Over the past decade, Fund for Armenian Relief has been a pioneer in battling malnutrition in Armenia. FAR has focused activities to combat the impacts of hunger, including anemia and stunting in children. Its efforts to make healthy eating more accessible and to raise awareness about this issue continue to break ground and raise attention, most recently by Columbia University and its prestigious Mailman School of Public Health.

A recent study by researchers at Columbia highlight the impacts of FAR’s childhood malnutrition project in its journal Public Health Nutrition. The multidisciplinary Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP), which is implemented in Armenia’s Berd Region, has been successful in improving several measures of childhood nutrition, like anemia rates, breastfeeding duration, and more diverse food consumption.

“Our study finds that a robust, multi-pronged program can be successful in improving short-term indicators of childhood nutrition in this frozen conflict zone such as anemia and minimum dietary diversity,” said the senior author Arin A. Balalian, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School. “The program also reduced suffering, as we saw fewer reports of children going to sleep hungry. However, further study is needed to assess whether this approach can make a difference over the longer term by promoting linear growth.”

Started in 2015 as part of FAR’s Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP), which aims to reduce poverty in Armenia’s most impoverished region of Tavush Province, BCPP’s childhood malnutrition component aims to provide balanced and nutritious food to preschool children and boost public awareness on proper nutrition in 16 communities in the Tavush’s Berd Region, which borders Azerbaijan. FAR has also since expanded its work in this area, implementing a similar program in Aragatsotn Province, and this Christmas is focusing on raising money to combat malnutrition in Armenia. FAR’s Ayo! initiative also recently launched its “Jashig” initiative, which aims to secure funding for four kindergartens in the Aragatsotn Province.