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.