More on Kyrgyzstan

What are the current issues in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz Republic, is a landlocked low-income country in Central Asia dominated by the majestic Tian Shan snow-capped mountain range. A former Soviet Republic, the country gained independence in 1991. Although it has since made some economic progress, almost 37 percent of the people remain below the poverty line and an estimated 12 percent are chronically food-insecure. One of the main reasons large parts of the population are locked in a cycle of poverty and hunger is that the country is frequently exposed tonatural disastersshocks such as earthquakes, mudslides and floods combined with dilapidated infrastructure, dependence on food importsand a complex ethnic and political environment.

Kyrgyzstan, officially the Kyrgyz Republic, is a landlocked low-income country in Central Asia dominated by the majestic Tian Shan snow-capped mountain range. A former Soviet Republic, the country gained independence in 1991. Although it has made significant economic progress since, about 37 percent of the people remain below the poverty line and an estimated 12 percent are chronically food insecure. One of the main reasons large parts of the population are locked in a cycle of poverty and hunger is that the country is frequently exposed to natural disasters shocks such as earthquakes, mudslides and floods combined with dilapidated agricultural infrastructure, dependence on food imports and a complex ethnic and political environment.

Already a food-deficit country, Kyrgyzstan suffered in 2008 a crippling drought that destroyed the harvest and was followed by the harshest winter in 40 years. Energy blackouts and food shortages for weeks on end combined with a significant drop in remittances and soaring food prices have pushed food insecure households over the edge.

In 2010, a violent uprising that resulted in the overthrow of the government followed by inter-ethnic clashes in the southern region of the Kyrgyz Republic created a new pool of vulnerable people in need of immediate emergency assistance.

WFP responded to the acute needs of the most vulnerable and food-insecure households with two emergency programmes: seasonal food assistance, which provided staple foods to the most needy rural households in six out of the country’s seven provinces, and targeted general food assistance, which provided immediate support to those struggling to rebuild their livelihoods after the inter-ethnic violence in Osh and Jalal-Abad. From 2009 to 2011, WFP reached more than one million people with its emergency food assistance programme.

After the violence subsided, WFP provided long-term support to rebuild infrastructure and support the reconciliation and peace-building process in communities worst affected by the inter-ethnic violence. In 2011-2014, WFP implemented a three-year operational plan to help improve the food security situation of poor rural households, as well as to enhance their access to agricultural resources.

In 2013, WFP launched a development project 'School Meals Optimisaiton' aimed at providing the Kyrgyz Government with technical support to improve the national school feeding through policy support and design of sustainable and cost-effective models of school meals. WFP also implements pilots to introduce nutritious meals in 250 pilot school across the country, renovate school canteens and improve sanitation facilities.

In mid-2014, WFP launched another development project 'Support for National Productive Safety Nets and Longer-term Community Resilience' aiming to strengthen the Government’s capacity to reduce food insecurity and undernutrition and to support long-term resilience of communities, focusing on rural development, social protection, disaster risk management and climate change adaptation.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Kyrgyzstan

In the Kyrgyz Republic, insufficient and outdated infrastructure hinders improvements in the agricultural sector on which many in the rural areas depend. Lack of employment opportunities results in a constant flow of outmigration, leaving rural households without key wage earners and dependent on uncertain remittances for livelihoods. Insufficient social safety nets leave the poorest families with few options for developing their skills and opportunities, or meeting the immediate needs of their families. Frequent natural disasters, such as landslides and earthquakes, further exhaust household resources already under stress. Of the population of around 5.8 million, 37% live in poverty (this increases to 41.4% of the rural population).

At the request of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, WFP established a presence in the country to respond to growing food insecurity following the global food crisis and the harsh winter and failed harvests of 2008. In 2010, a violent uprising that resulted in the overthrow of the government followed by inter-ethnic clashes in the southern region of the Kyrgyz Republic created a new pool of vulnerable people in need of immediate emergency assistance.

WFP responded to the acute needs of the most vulnerable and food-insecure households with two emergency programmes: seasonal food assistance, which provided staple foods to the most needy rural households in six out of the country’s seven provinces, and targeted general food assistance, which provided immediate support to those struggling to rebuild their livelihoods after the inter-ethnic violence in Osh and Jalal-Abad. Through its emergency operations WFP managed to assist more than a million vulnerable people in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Initially operating in an emergency capacity, WFP interventions are progressively emphasizing development and recovery over relief efforts. Active in all seven provinces of the Kyrgyz Republic, WFP is implementing field operations that include optimizing school meals; restoring and replacing community productive assets, such as bridges, roads and irrigation systems; forestry; and, training on agriculture and alternative livelihoods.

In 2011-2014, WFP in the Kyrgyz Republic implementeda Protracted and Relief Operation (PRRO) targeting more than half a million people to helpimproving food security nationwideand promote asustainable foundation for development through a strategy aimed at preventing hunger in the most food-insecure rural communities, as well as helping communities build a more food-secure future.

WFP supports the country in strengthening the national system for monitoring food security in order to better predict and respond to food insecurity in an efficient, and timely manner. WFP is coordinating closely with government counterparts including the Ministry of Agriculture and National Statistics Committee to ensure government ownership, sustainability and integration of the system.

Since 2010, WFP has been conducting twice a yeara nation-wide HouseholdsFood Security Assessment (HFSA) to provide a timely evidence-based planning of food and nutrition security interventions, as well as to analyse the food security dynamics and trends throughout the country.

Also, on a monthly basis, WFP in the Kyrgyz Republic monitorsand analyzescommodity price developments in both rural and urban areas throughout the country to provide near real time insights into the rapidly changing food security environment, particularly food price and its impact at the household level.

In 2013, WFP launched a development project - School Meals Optimization - to provide the government withtechnical assistance to improve the country’s national school meals programme. Over the course of this three-year-programme, provide technical assistance to the Kyrgyz government to increase the effectiveness, accountability, sustainability and cost-efficiency of the existing school meals programme, while at the same time building the government’s capacity. WFP is also assisting the government in developing a national school meals policy and implementation strategy. Through the same intervention, WFP is alsoimplementing pilots to introduce more nutritious meals in about 250 selected schools, renovate school canteens and water and sanitation facilities.

In mid-2014, WFP launched another development project -Support for National Productive Safety Nets and Longer-term Community Resilience -aiming to strengthen the Government’s capacity to reduce food insecurity and undernutrition and to support long-term resilience of communities, focusing on rural development, social protection, disaster risk management and climate change adaptation.

Featured Kyrgyzstan publications

  • Kyrgyzstan: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 518 KB)

    A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.

Looking for more publications on Kyrgyzstan? Visit the Kyrgyzstan publications archive.