Tajikistan is the poorest nation in Central Asia and one of the world’s most impoverished countries. The rugged, mountainous terrain covers approximately 93% of the country’s territory, making food production nearly impossible. As a result, the 9.1 million people that inhabit the country often face food insecurity and high malnutrition rates that affect mostly women and children. Fortunately, the former Soviet constituent has been working alongside various countries and organizations to overcome this struggle and has been successful throughout the last decade. However, hunger throughout the country is still widespread and will need continual support. Here five projects fighting hunger in Tajikistan.
5 Projects Fighting Hunger in Tajikistan
- The Prevention and Treatment of Moderate Acute Malnutrition Project: The Prevention and Treatment of Moderate Acute Malnutrition Project is a plan that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) gave funding to and the World Food Programme (WFP) implemented. The project started in January 2018 and will go to 2022. It intends to improve nutrition and healthcare in the region by “[providing] specialized nutritious food to over 24,000 malnourished children aged 6-59 months in more than 300 national primary health centers in targeted districts.”
- Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN): In September 2013, the Republic of Tajikistan joined SUN, a movement consisting of 61 countries that work alongside central and local governments to improve nutrition. Since joining, Tajikistan has passed several laws and documents that address improvements in health, nutrition and food security. Not only that, but the government has also installed the Food Security Council of the Republic of Tajikistan (FSCT) to delegate strategic methods on how the country should allocate food to alleviate widespread hunger. Since joining the movement, the country has made various improvements in all aspects of nutrition. For instance, from 2016 to 2019, SUN was able to decrease stunting in children under 5 years of age, a very prevalent issue throughout the country, by 9.3%.
- Women’s Dietary Diversity Score (WDDS): The Women’s Dietary Diversity Score, or better known as the WDDS, is a qualitative global nutrition evaluation that studies the types of food that a person consumes over 24 hours. The objective is to monitor the quality of the Tajik peoples’ current diet so the government can determine how to integrate better nutrition. The indicator focuses on women because experts believe that if women can satisfy their high nutritional needs, especially mothers and those expecting, then family members should also achieve their dietary needs. In the pilot WDDS study in 2016, the mean score on a scale from one to nine was six. Future studies will focus more on having comparable food-related information.
- Agrarian Reform Programme: From 2012 to 2020, the Agrarian Reform Programme of the Republic of Tajikistan addressed how to enhance the country’s low agricultural productivity. The landlocked state often faces hardship when it comes to food production because 7% of arable land is often prone to soil degradation. With assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the country has received support to revise and advance policies regarding federal policies on food security, distribution and nutrition. Through various agrarian reforms throughout the eight-year period, the amount of arable land increased to nearly 65%.
- Feed the Future: Feed the Future is an American global hunger and poverty initiative that emerged in 2010. It aligns people from various sectors and the U.S. government to create an effective way to assist countries that need help enhancing their food production and distribution systems. With the support of USAID, the initiative has been able to help farmers boost their rate of food production while simultaneously teaching the importance of proper nutrition. The majority of the focus has been on Khatlon, a key province for agricultural production in the southwest area of Tajikistan that also has the highest rates of undernutrition and the largest number of those living below the poverty line.
Through various technological and modernization developments, Feed the Future has had a huge success, including secure access to land and water, increased breastfeeding rates and the establishment of a pilot program to prevent and treat moderate acute malnutrition in children. One of the most notable accomplishments was the introduction of seedling technology that helped produce more than 1.5 million seedlings of improved produce, such as cucumbers, tomatoes and sweet peppers.
While hunger is still a very prominent issue throughout Tajikistan, the Tajik government and international organizations’ efforts have brought forth numerous improvements throughout the last 10 years. With continued support, Tajikistan has high hopes for an improved future.
– Heather Law