Tajikistan is a landlocked, low-income, food-deficit country with a population of approximately 7.5 million, three-quarters of who live in rural areas. Only seven percent of land is arable. The rugged, mountainous terrain poses enormous challenges for people, especially during the winter when bad weather and natural disasters impede movement and routinely trigger energy and food shortages.
The country is the poorest in the Commonwealth of Independent States, with 47.2 percent of the population living on less than US$1.33 a day and 17 percent subsisting on less than US$0.85 a day. Tajikistan ranks 125 out of 187 countries on the 2012 UNDP Human Development Index. The majority of the population spends between 60 to 80 percent of their income on food. Access to food is a major challenge, with around one-third of the population affected by food insecurity.
In recent years, income from remittances from migrants working abroad, mostly in the Russian Federation, has increased to almost 50 percent of GDP. Fifty-five percent of rural households depend on remittances as their main source of income. However, while remittances represent an important contribution to the country´s economic growth, they are also the last resort of poverty-stricken rural families who are unable to survive on other more sustainable livelihoods. Although, the direct impact of the global financial crisis has been limited as Tajikistan is not integrated into global markets, the indirect consequences have been serious, with the reduced global prices and demand for aluminium and cotton (the main export commodities) decreasing.
The goal of WFP operations in Tajikistan is to provide food assistance to the most vulnerable and food-insecure people through relief, recovery and development activities. WFP addresses the immediate food needs of those affected by recurring natural disasters, especially floods, earthquakes and droughts, with targeted emergency responses. WFP supports the livelihoods of food-insecure households through seasonal vulnerable group feeding (VGF) and helps improve the nutritional status of malnourished children through targeted supplementary feeding. Under the food-for-assets activity, WFP assists fragile communities to rebuild their livelihoods through the restoration and creation of community assets that will promote food security. WFP provides school meals to 360,000 primary schoolchildren and their teachers, creating a safety net for vulnerable families. WFP also provides food assistance to TB clients and their families, contributing to increased success rates for treatment.
WFP's activities in Tajikistan are aligned with the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, the Government of Tajikistan's Poverty Reduction Strategy and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 1 (eradication of poverty and hunger), MDG 2 (universal primary education) and MGD 3 (promotion of gender equality), as well as WFP Strategic Objectives 1, 3, 4, and 5.