Tajikistan is a lower-middle-income, food-deficit country of approximately eight million people, three-quarters of whom live in rural areas.
About 47 percent of the population lives on less than US$1.33 a day and 17 percent subsist on less than US$0.85 a day. The majority of the population spends between 70 and 80 percent of household income on food. Despite improvements in food security in recent years, only 24 percent of Tajikistan’s rural population is food secure.
Tajikistan has the highest malnutrition rate among the former Soviet republics. More than one third of the population is undernourished, and an estimated 11 percent needs food assistance. The latest Tajikistan National Health Survey of 2012 showed 10 percent of children aged under 5 years are affected by acute malnutrition and 26 percent suffer from chronic malnutrition.
Recurrent natural disasters expose low-income families in rural communities to chronic food insecurity. Vast swaths of agricultural land are being affected by wide-spread deforestation, soil erosion and droughts. Climate change is affecting food security and livelihoods by increasing overall temperatures, causing more frequent extreme droughts and floods, and making rainfall erratic.
WFP has been present in Tajikistan since 1993, when it launched an emergency operation to provide life-saving assistance during the Civil War. WFP’s strategy has since shifted from providing crisis assistance to increasingly focusing on three longer-term objectives: ensuring that food security and nutrition are prioritized in national strategies, policies and programmes; enhancing the Government’s capacity to implement and monitor sustainable hunger solutions, through social safety nets for the most vulnerable; and supporting communities to respond to crises and to improve their longer-term food security and resilience to shocks.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Tajikistan
WFP’s School Meal Programme has increased enrolment and attendance rates since 1999 and currently complements government social safety nets by providing daily meals to over 370,000 schoolchildren in more than 2,000 schools (over 60 percent of the total schools) in rural areas. WFP is strengthening the capacity of national authorities to take over and expand the current WFP-supported programme.
In coordination with the Tajikistan’s Ministry of Health and Social Protection, and in close cooperation with the United National Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), WFP assists local health centers and parents to combat acute malnutrition. The programme benefits more than 8,000 children every year.
Support to tubercolosis patients and their families
Tubercolosis(TB) is a disease of poverty, and in Tajikistan’s food-insecure rural areas the families of TB patients are amongst the most destitute. TB patients are often returnees from Russia or Kazakhstan, where they had migrated to find work and where substandard living conditions for migrants make it easy to contract TB .WFP provides technical assistance to the National TB Center to support patients’ food needs through a dedicated safety net.
WFP supports Tajikistan’s emergency preparedness and response, working with the Government’s Committee for Emergency Situations and Civil Defence and other relevant agencies and contributing to the strengthening of the national Rapid Emergency Assessment and Coordination Team and National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. In case of rapid onset emergencies, a contingency stock is on stand-by for targeted distributions for an initial period of three months. In 2016, WFP provided food assistance worth up to USD 79,000 to people affected by natural disasters in Tajikistan.
Food Assistance for Assets
With the incentive of food, vouchers or cash transfers, communities work on assets such as irrigation systems, soil conservation and regeneration, drinking water supplies, bridges, roads and other infrastructure. While food assistance has immediate advantages in terms of food security and nutrition, the creation of assets reduces exposure and vulnerability to shocks, strengthens resilience to natural disasters, and contributes to sustainable livelihoods while ensuring environmental benefits.