This Operation has been modified and extended in time 30 June 2011 as per Budget revision 6 (see below).
The Kyrgyz Republic, like the rest of central Asia, experienced extremely cold temperatures during the first months of 2008 and saw a large-scale depletion of the country’s hydroelectric resources. Two successive drought years and, additionally during 2008, a sequence of locust infestations, hail storms, lack of precipitation and spring frosts inflicted serious damage on the agricultural sector and reduced growth to only 1.2 percent during the first five months of 2008, despite an increase in land under cultivation. A sharp increase of food prices, largely due to a wheat price increase (estimated at 20.4 percent since the beginning of the year) and compounded by a 23.3 percent increase for fuel and utilities and sharp reductions in remittances from expatriate Kyrgyz, due to the global economic downturn, make it very difficult for people to achieve a minimally acceptable dietary intake, especially vulnerable groups or people in poverty. There is increasing evidence that the poorest are resorting to negative coping strategies.
According to the WFP Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) of October/ November 2008, based on analysis of household food security data collected by the Kyrgyz National Statistics Office in the first quarter of 2008, one household in five is at high nutritional and health risk because of poor food consumption. Their diet is extremely low in calories and the consumption of fats and oil shows a decreasing trend since 2006. Even though food insecurity is chronic in nature, the high food and fuel prices and the coming winter call for urgent relief assistance to severely food insecure households in order to stabilize and improve their dietary intake. The majority of the vulnerable are located in rural areas and in districts where over 20 percent of the population live below the Guaranteed Minimal Consumption Level (GMCL), which is at a level below the threshold used to define the ‘extremely poor’. Numbering 580,000 people, they live in districts which are remote and require support. These districts have been further prioritized according to their vulnerability, so those which have more than 50 percent of the population living below the GLMC have first priority for the receipt of assistance.
A one time bulk distribution of 75 kg of wheat flour and 7.5 kg of vegetable oil to pre-identified families living below the GMCL is foreseen. This ration has been designed to bridge the energy gap which exists between current intake and actual minimum requirements and to allow for a fast efficient distribution to achieve the greatest possible impact in the shortest timeframe. The ration is expected to cover the food gap of up to 450 kcal (per day) for 580,000 beneficiaries over three winter months. The objective of the operation is ‘to reach vulnerable communities whose food and nutrition security has been adversely affected by shocks’, WFP Strategic Objective (SO) 1: Save lives and protect livelihoods in emergencies and MDG 1 to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
The Government requested the UN to assist with the coordination of donor actions to avert the potential winter difficulties and requested specific assistance from WFP. A response plan, of which food assistance is a vital component, was developed by the UN and focuses on the humanitarian needs of vulnerable groups during winter. A related UN Flash Appeal was launched on the 27 November 2008. WFP has already initiated its response through the approval on an IR EMOP to cover initial start up costs and to provide a limited amount of vegetable oil.
WFP does not have an operational presence in the Kyrgyz Republic; therefore this intervention has been designed to be a short-term humanitarian response to an impending acute crisis. WFP is establishing an office in Bishkek, which will be managed by an Emergency Coordinator, under the leadership of the Country Director in Tajikistan.