© WFP/Elizabeth Zalkind
Despite the economic and human development progress experienced over the past decade, Kyrgyzstan still faces significant challenges in the pursuit of Sustainable Development Goal 2 on Zero Hunger and improved nutrition.
About one quarter of the population (22 percent) – or 1.5 million people – live on less than US$ 1.3 a day. Although they spend up to 60 percent of their income on food, this is not enough to provide them with the calories and nutrients they need.
High consumption of starchy, rather than nutritious, foods is at the root of nutritional problems, including vitamin and minerals deficiencies. 13 percent of children under 5 suffer from stunting, and 43 percent in the same age group are affected by anaemia, as are 39 percent of women of reproductive age. Moreover, 62 percent of pregnant women and 43 percent of school-aged boys and girls show iodine deficiency.
In an almost entirely mountainous country, two out of three food insecure people live in remote valleys, where high altitudes, harsh winters and hot, dry summers limit livelihoods potential. Recurring climate-related shocks and disasters, including floods and mudslides, further affect the resilience of families and communities.
The small size of farms, limited access to equipment and finance, poor farming practices and inadequate post-harvest storage contribute to limited productivity of the agricultural sector, which is unable to satisfy domestic demand. As a result, Kyrgyzstan depends on imports of basic foods, especially wheat.
Social infrastructure and services are lacking and fragmented, especially in rural areas. Existing social protection schemes and learning opportunities are limited and have no proven impact on inclusion and reducing inequalities.
Since mid-March, when the first COVID-19 cases were registered in the country, the Government announced a state of emergency and introduced border closures, lockdowns throughout the country, and the closure of various places such as educational institutions and shops. The Ministry of Labour and Social Development has estimated that over 1.8 million people will become vulnerable and require social protection support due to the outbreak.
WFP continues its life-saving assistance in the country and has distributed over 2,000 tons of food assistance to 64,000 poor people through a joint programme with the Ministry of Labour and Social Development. Over 53,000 families received take-home rations of wheat flour from the WFP’s school meals programme and over 3,200 residents of social institutions for elderly, orphans and people with disabilities received emergency food assistance and consultations on COVID-19 preventive measures.
Present in the country since 2008, the World Food Programme (WFP) operates at all levels of Kyrgyz society – from the field level up to Government ministries – to ensure the voice and needs of vulnerable communities living in the remotest valleys is heard by decision makers.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Kyrgyzstan
WFP leads the critical sectors of food security and logistics in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and helps to strengthen the assessment of the socio-economic situation and plan appropriate responses. WFP continues its field work and food distribution to vulnerable households, ensuring the highest safety standards are met. WFP also supports emergency food distributions to the most vulnerable people to cover their immediate needs during the crisis.
WFP has created a sustainable, cost-effective model to introduce hot meals in about 640 primary schools. The Government is replicating WFP’s model to further expand the reach of the programme to all of 2,200 primary schools across the country. Every day, children receive one hot, nutritious meal comprising soups or cereal porridges, fresh pastries and vitamin-rich drinks. WFP provides fortified wheat for the meals as well as technical assistance and trainings for school cooks.
Support for smallholder farmers
WFP provides vulnerable families with food or cash as they build or rehabilitate productive assets, or undergo skills trainings, including on farming techniques, sustainable management of natural resources, post-harvest storage, processing and marketing. WFP has a special focus on empowering women, who make up a large proportion of the rural workforce but tend to work in lower-end value chains with less predictable incomes. WFP is planning to support 100,000 poor families.
In areas prone to disasters and climate change risks, WFP provides food or cash to communities as they participate in activities that improve their disaster preparedness and mitigate climate-related risks. WFP also provides technical assistance to local government authorities to enhance community-level risk profiling and planning, disaster preparedness, mitigation and response, as well as climate adaptation.
WFP supports institutions at the central and decentralised levels to improve their capacities to manage food security and nutrition issues. This includes improving the coverage, effectiveness and quality of social safety nets to promote equal access to benefits and reduce inequality, including through the institutionalization of WFP-supported systems and approaches such as school meals and productive safety nets.
WFP is also contributing to develop the National Food Security and Nutrition Programme, National Social Protection Programme. WFP is a co-facilitator of the National SUN (Scaling-Up Nutrition) Movement and supports to enhance the national food security monitoring