© WFP/Muzaffar Nodirov
Tajikistan is a lower-middle-income, food-deficit country of nearly nine 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 subsists 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.
According to the 2017 Global Hunger Index, Tajikistan has the highest rate of malnutrition among the former Soviet republics and faces serious food security issues: 30.1 percent of its population suffers from undernourishment. Nutrition indicators for the country, as measured by the latest Demographic Health Survey (2012), are the worst in Central Asia, and chronic malnutrition is of significant concern, with 26.8 percent of children aged between 6 months and 5 years suffering from stunting.
Recurrent natural disasters expose low-income families in rural communities to chronic food insecurity. Vast swaths of agricultural land are being affected by widespread 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
School MealsWFP’s School Meal Programme has increased enrolment and attendance rates since 1999 and currently complements government social safety nets by providing daily meals to some 500,000 schoolchildren in nearly 2,000 schools (over 54 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.
NutritionWFP 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) assists local health centres and parents to combat moderate acute malnutrition (MAM). Every year more than 6,000 children are enrolled in a WFP-supported supplementary feeding programme treating MAM in selected local health centres through provision of specialised nutritious food (Super Cereal Plus).
Food Assistance for AssetsWith 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.
Emergency Response and PreparednessWFP 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. Between 2016 and 2017 WFP provided food assistance worth up to US$90,000 to people affected by natural disasters in Tajikistan.