Hunger in UzbekistanHunger in Uzbekistan remains a serious issue, yet it is not recognized as a national one.

Close to 75 percent of the working-class population in Uzbekistan live in rural areas, and thus the income of this stratum of the population typically remains low, which exacerbates the lack of food security. This level of poverty has its roots in Uzbekistan’s independence.

Both the domestic and foreign policy of Uzbekistan are inimical to any significant changes that would address the hunger that plagues the country. Since the main priority of such policies is to keep the ruling regime in power, securing food and combating hunger is simply not a huge priority.

Another cause of the lack of food security is the slow growth of the gross domestic product (GDP), which in recent years was as low as seven percent, which is not sufficient for the steadily increasing population.

Furthermore, the economy of Uzbekistan, in regards to agriculture, is largely confined to producing cotton. This lack of diversification exposes Uzbekistan to increased economic risk. This problem is exacerbated by rising food prices as well.

Despite all of these indicators painting a bleak picture of Uzbekistan in the long run, recent reports have shown a decrease in hunger. From 2000 to 2014 the number of undernourished Uzbeks was reduced to less than half of what they previously were. Currently, this number is at around 1.7 million. While much work has to be done, this is a great improvement.

Additionally, unlike the GDP, the rate of agricultural production increased gradually at about 6 percent every year from 2000 to 2007. Furthermore, wheat production grew nine-fold from 1991 to 2006. These stark improvements are largely a result of the isolationist approach Uzbekistan has adopted in terms of its foreign policy, which has both its pros and cons.

One of the downsides that the Uzbeks have experienced as a result of this foreign policy has already been mentioned: the aversion of the rigid regime to take chances that may benefit its population but would otherwise risk its own stability, such as lifting restrictions on trade. The pros of this are increased self-sufficiency that has spurred the growth in certain aspects of the agricultural sector.

There is much work that needs to be done in order to reduce hunger in Uzbekistan. The country has improved in some ways but further work is needed in order to develop a sustainable model that adequately addresses the needs of the citizenry.

– Mohammad Hasan Javed

Photo: Flickr


Uzbekistan Poverty RateAfter separating from the Soviet Union in 1924, Uzbekistan is finally getting its economic footing. This country has struggled with transitioning to a market economy, but it has finally found a solution. Because of this, Uzbekistan’s poverty rate has slowly been decreasing over the years. It has declined from 33 percent in 2004 to its current rate of just 12.8 percent in 2017.

Although Uzbekistan has successfully decreased its poverty rate, the country still faces the challenge of creating more jobs to keep the poverty rate down. Many urban cities – where most of the population live – lack adequate employment opportunities. An unsteady unemployment rate, high cost of basic necessities such as food and low wages are major factors contributing to the poverty rate in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan boasts 92.3 points out of 100 for food production stability and 88.5 points for quality, meaning the country does not have a problem producing high-quality food products. The problem is that the low wages plus the high cost of food mean many residents cannot afford to buy this high-quality food. In fact, 75 percent of the population has a low income. Because of this, the country reports high rates of iron, folic acid and vitamin A deficiencies in its citizens living in poverty.

Thanks to the overall economic growth, a decrease in unemployment and a rise in the labor force have contributed to the decrease in the Uzbekistan poverty rate. In fact, the GDP has steadily increased in the last decade. In 2016, the GDP was estimated at $67.22 billion, a rise from 2014’s $63.067 billion.

Uzbekistan’s poverty rate now ranks seventh compared to its neighbors. It follows countries such as Afghanistan (39.1 percent), Armenia (29.8 percent), and Georgia (20.1 percent).

Although Uzbekistan has a long way to go to completely eradicate poverty, Uzbekistan’s poverty rate has significantly decreased over the years. Continuing to create suitable jobs for urban residents while increasing the GDP will help the country maintain its steady poverty decline.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Flickr

Help People in UzbekistanThe Republic of Uzbekistan was formed in 1991 after declaring independence from the Soviet Union. However, this independence came at a cost. After losing subsidies afforded by the Soviet government, this nation experienced a serious economic decline. Today, not only do 12.8 percent of Uzbekistan’s citizens live beneath the national poverty line, it has a steady unemployment rate of 8.9 percent. With an economy largely based around agriculture, Uzbekistan’s GDP has suffered during the last few decades due to the fragile ecosystem caused by climate change, rapid population growth and environmentally-damaging economic pursuits.

These financial hardships are not helped by the Uzbek government, which has a track record of corruption, non-transparency and numerous human rights violations. Though there have been improvements in terms of income distribution and income rates, the future of this nation is ambiguous, given the likelihood that their high commodity prices will decrease with the current environmental and market disruptions. This places a great deal of pressure to establish a market-based economy, which calls for both higher education rates and outside investors.

As of now, agriculture still employs over a third of Uzbekistan’s population of 31.8 million. In order to achieve a measure of financial prosperity while subsequently lowering poverty rates and raising income rates, this nation must invest in the 58.5 percent of its population below the age of 30. Let’s take a look at how to help people in Uzbekistan.

SOS Children’s Villages in Uzbekistan

One way to help people in Uzbekistan is by donating to SOS Children’s Villages International, or specifically to one of its many bases in Uzbekistan. Founded by Hermann Gmeiner in 1949, this organization worked to provide orphaned and abandoned children with loving families after World War II. Today, this program has placed 577,000 children into healthy alternative care. On top of this, last year 297,000 children were reported to be learning at SOS Children’s Villages’ schools, training centers, and social centers.

In Uzbekistan, many children are forced to drop out of school at a young age and are exploited within the cotton industry. Oftentimes, young children are sent out to live, work and earn for their families. This ends in this nation’s youth fending for themselves on the street in order to survive. Without programs like SOS Children’s Villages, these young people are placed into institutions, which only perpetuates the trend of young adults unable to act independently. Reports relay that the majority of girls leaving institutions marry early, start families young and never achieve the educational and professional potential of which they are capable. Allowing this institutionalization empowers the cycle of poverty prevalent in Uzbekistan. By helping or donating to SOS Children’s Villages in Uzbekistan, you could be a powerful force in the creation of better, safer lives.

The Cotton Campaign

Another way to help people in Uzbekistan is by supporting The Cotton Campaign, a coalition working in the service of human rights and the eradication of both child and forced labor. Each year during the harvest season, the Uzbek government is responsible for forcing adults and children alike out of their jobs, homes and schools in order to contribute to its annual cotton quota. While this is dangerous enough with consideration to the health of these forced laborers, who are more often than not placed into unsafe housing, exposed to harmful chemicals and forced to pick beyond their limits, the power the government holds over these citizens compromises both their education and their profession.

The Cotton Campaign works to help people in Uzbekistan by mobilizing communities, organizations and individuals to advocate against the exploitative terms of citizenship in Uzbekistan. In educating potential lobbyists about the necessary ramifications and laws that need to pass through the Uzbek government, this coalition gives each individual the power to work against this existing inhumanity. By supporting their efforts, you can contribute to the end of modern-day slavery.

Both of these organizations are doing important work to help people in Uzbekistan. By donating, volunteering or raising awareness, you can contribute to improving the lives of Uzbekistan’s impoverished people.

Briana Fernald

Photo: Flickr

Uzbekistan Poverty Rate
Since gaining independence in 1991 after the fall of the USSR, Uzbekistan’s prosperity has grown by leaps and bounds. Located in Central Asia, just south of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan has become the fifth-largest cotton exporter in the world and is quickly growing its gold and natural gas industries. Its forecasted GDP growth for 2017 is seven percent, which is well above the 3.2 percent average of other Central Asian countries. In fact, Uzbekistan’s GDP has more than tripled since 2007. Despite these exciting changes, there is still much room for improvement, particularly concerning the poverty rate in Uzbekistan.

Lack of employment is a major issue for Uzbekistan, with 12.8 percent of its population living below the poverty line. Since becoming a sovereign nation, a time when Uzbekistan’s economy was in flux, the country has become dependent on its exportation of its gold and cotton products; however, these commodities are tightly controlled by the regime, with much of the profits lining the pockets of the wealthy leaders, leaving many average citizens high and dry. Job stagnation also hurts the poverty rate in Uzbekistan as the number of Uzbek citizens of eligible employment age has increased and industries with little room for growth dominate the country.

Because there is little money to be made in Uzbekistan, many people migrate or work abroad, usually in Russia or Kazakhstan. The citizens often face harsh repercussions including harassment from Uzbek security services and government interference with remittances. These poor economic conditions, along with restrictions on human rights and religious freedoms nearly thrust Uzbekistan into a civil war during the Andijan massacre in 2005, when hundreds of protesters were shot dead for demanding their president’s resignation.

In 2016, a new Uzbek president was elected to office for the first time in 25 years: Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Since taking office, Mirziyoyev has partnered with The World Bank in a five-year strategy to use a $100 million loan for the creation of 500,000 new jobs. The goal of the plan is to decrease the poverty rate in Uzbekistan and to help the country reach upper-middle-income status by 2030.

Although there is still more progress needed to improve the livelihoods of average Uzbek citizens, it is important not to understate the growth and development that has been at work in the country for decades. Since 2001, the poverty rate has been cut by more than half. These numbers, along with new leadership and the implementation of the stimulus package being proposed, give hope to the prospect of a wealthy and economically secure Uzbekistan.

Micaela Fischer

Photo: Flickr

In Central Asia lies the Republic of Uzbekistan, a country just north of Turkmenistan and south of Kazakhstan. With a physical size only slightly larger than the state of California, Uzbekistan’s population is just under 29.5 million. Although a sovereign nation today, Uzbekistan only just gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Today, the country’s economy remains largely state-run with little diversification. As of 2015, around 12.8 percent of individuals living in the country were below the poverty line. As it has now been decades since the nation gained independence from the Soviet Union, this begs the question: why is Uzbekistan poor? Below are a few reasons:

“White Gold”
Cotton, also referred to as “white gold,” currently accounts for a whopping 60 percent of Uzbekistan’s export earnings. This fact is in large part because of the actions of the Soviets in the 1940s. Because cotton is a highly water-intensive crop, the Soviet Union built various canals which would serve to divert water from the Aral Sea to the Uzbek cotton fields. Now, the Aral Sea has shrunk to 15 percent of its original volume and former ports around the Aral Sea rest as ghost towns.

The effect of this is that Uzbekistan’s economy remains undiversified. As the current government of Uzbekistan retains tight controls on most facets of the economy, farmers are highly pressured to meet cotton quotas. Therefore, as other farmers can grow so little else, “white gold” has indirectly compromised food supply.

Worse yet, governmental corruption drains farmers’ deserved income from cotton. A U.K.-based charity called The Environmental Justice Foundation has stated that the official price that farmers receive in return for their cotton represents just one-third of its real value. However, the real outlook is far bleaker. Farmers have reported that they do not even receive the official procurement price. To understand the answer to the question “why is Uzbekistan poor,” one must know that corruption has persisted in Uzbekistan long after the fall of the Soviet Union. This persistence is not merely because of social and cultural norms, but because such practices have continued to actively benefit the elites of Uzbek society, both economically and politically, for decades.

Therefore, to answer the question “why is Uzbekistan poor?” one takes into account the primary reason Uzbekistan’s economy remains stifled and undiversified–cotton–but also the reason no changes have been made–corruption. If one hopes to end poverty in the region, both issues must be addressed.

Shannon Golden

Photo: Google

Causes of Poverty in UzbekistanIn Central Asia lies the Republic of Uzbekistan, a country just north of Turkmenistan and south of Kazakhstan. With a physical size only slightly larger than California, Uzbekistan’s population is just lower than 29.5 million. Although a sovereign nation today, Uzbekistan only just gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Today, the nation’s economy remains largely state-run with little diversification. As of 2015, around 12.8 percent of individuals living in the country were below the poverty line. Roughly 75 percent of these individuals lived in rural areas. Here is one of the major causes of poverty in Uzbekistan:

“White gold,” also known as cotton, currently accounts for a whopping 60 percent of Uzbekistan’s export earnings. This resulted from the actions of the Soviet government during the 1940s. Because cotton is a highly water intensive crop, the Soviet Union built canals to divert water from the Aral Sea to Uzbekistan’s cotton fields. Now, the Aral Sea has shrunk to 15 percent of its original volume and former ports around the Aral Sea rest as ghost towns. The loss of these ports has been another cause of poverty in Uzbekistan.

This has also meant that Uzbekistan’s economy remains undiversified. As the current government of Uzbekistan retains tight controls on most facets of the economy, farmers are pressured to meet cotton quotas, and other farmers can grow little else. This has compromised the country’s food supply.

What makes matters worse is that governmental corruption drains farmers’ deserved income from yielding cotton. A U.K. charity called The Environmental Justice Foundation has stated, “the official price that farmers receive in return for their cotton represents just one third of its true value. But the real outlook is far more bleak. Farmers have reported that they don’t even receive the official procurement price.”

Therefore, the conquest for “white gold” or cotton has been one of the major causes of poverty in Uzbekistan. If dreams for a more thriving economy are to be realized, the economy must expand to include more than cotton.

Shannon Golden

Photo: Google

Water Quality in Uzbekistan
As one of the largest countries in Central Asia with a population of 32 million, Uzbekistan is a regional economic and political leader. Recently, Uzbekistan has turned its attention to the pressing issues of environmental protection and water quality. In the last decade, water quality in Uzbekistan has been a main focus thanks to government and service providers’ efforts to expand and modernize the water sector across the country. Although access to an improved water source has declined by less than one percent, increased investment in water supply and sanitation has provided the foundation for reform in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan has amassed the largest borrowing portfolio for water projects of any Central Asian nation, including the Alat and Karakul Water Supply Project. Started in 2013 with financing from the World Bank, the project has improved quality and efficiency of water supply for more than 220,000 Uzbeks from the districts of Alat and Karakul in the Bukhara region. The World Bank has partnered with Uzbekistan since 1992, and its total commitments to the country exceed $1 billion.

The government has taken on these initiatives in response to the recent problems facing water quality in Uzbekistan, including water availability and pollution. More than half of Uzbekistani households do not connect to a piped water system; sewerage systems serve only 40% of the population. Much of the government’s efforts concentrate in the rural region of Karakalpakstan; it has some of the worst water quality in the country and has dealt with setbacks due to a uranium scare in 2008.

While the government-established State Committee for Environmental Protection has made limited efforts to curb water contamination in the last 15 years, nongovernmental organizations have spearheaded the effort to establish regulation to reduce harmful runoff and protect water resources.

Much of Uzbekistan’s economy relies on its environment, from its booming cotton industry to its oil and natural gas supplies. Environmental issues pose a threat to the country as a whole, with water availability as a top concern. Studies have shown that global warming may hit Central Asia the hardest in terms of temperature risings and potential drought. Uzbekistan must confront existing issues such as chemicals from cotton production contaminating freshwater, as well as future threats from climate change.

Though the government has acknowledged the extent of the country’s environmental problems, and the State Committee for Nature Protection has looked to contain environmental issues, grassroots organizations have called for the government to lay down further regulation and take more urgent action. Water quality in Uzbekistan has improved, but environmental issues threaten the country’s welfare if further action is not taken.

Nicholas Dugan

Photo: Flickr

Uzbek Refugees
The Republic of Uzbekistan is a Central Asian country with a population of about 32 million. From 1924 to 1991, Uzbekistan was a constituent republic within the Soviet Union. Since gaining independence in 1991, the Uzbek people have been dominated by an authoritarian government. Here are 10 critical facts about Uzbek refugees from the former Soviet state:

  1. According to the World Bank’s most current released data, there were 4,205 Uzbek refugees spread out across the world in 2015. This fact makes Uzbekistan the largest source of refugees in Central Asia, ahead of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.  These are all former Soviet republics as well.
  2. The number of Uzbek refugees is decreasing. Despite the world’s refugee population growing by millions annually since 2011, the Uzbek refugee population has declined each year in the same amount of time. The Uzbek refugee population is about a third of the size it was in 2011.
  3. Uzbek refugees often flee what the Human Rights Watch has described as an “abysmal” state of human rights in Uzbekistan. The country does not allow independent criticism and denies Uzbeks fundamental freedoms in regards to religion and expression.
    Torture is commonplace in the Uzbekistan justice system, and adults and children are subjected to forced labor. Collecting data on Uzbekistan, especially on its human rights violations is difficult.  This lack of information is due to Uzbekistan refusing to allow U.N. human rights experts access to the country since 2002.
  4. Some Uzbek refugees leave Uzbekistan because of their sexual orientation. Homosexual relations carry a maximum prison sentence of three years in Uzbekistan.
  5. Many Uzbek refugees left their country after the 2005 Andijan massacre. In June 2004, 23 businessmen from the city of Andijan were arrested on baseless charges of “religious extremism.” About 10,000 people eventually filled the streets in protest when the businessmen were subsequently found guilty. In a violent suppression of the protests, the Uzbekistan military opened fire on the crowd. Estimates of the number of people killed during the Andijan massacre start at 187. According to the Uzbekistan government’s official count, potentially nearly 2,000 people died.
  6. Some of the Uzbek refugees are whistleblowers and former government officials. For example, in 2008, Ikrom Yakubov sought asylum in London. Yakubov worked as a spy for ten years in the Uzbek National Security Service, including two years on the president’s National Security Council. When he arrived in London, he had already been hiding out in Europe for months, fearing for his life. Yakubov says that he no longer wanted to work for “the executioner,” and has accused the Uzbekistan government of routinely murdering its citizens for political reasons. His estimated death toll of the Andijan massacre is 1,500 people.
  7. The authorities often harass the families of Uzbek refugees who stay in Uzbekistan. If the refugees leave for political reasons, such as those that did following the Andijan massacre, their families are put under surveillance, interrogated and threatened with criminal charges. Children in these families even get publicly shamed at school.
  8. Uzbek refugees often find that their families will no longer talk to them after they leave Uzbekistan. Due to threats from the government, families are often too scared to receive phone calls or letters from their refugee relatives. The government threatens to take the families’ homes away or beat them. According to one Uzbek refugee, Nodir N., authorities detain his brother back in Uzbekistan for several days before each holiday to ensure he does not protest.
  9. Uzbekistan’s government does not acknowledge its refugees as such. Uzbek refugees are branded as “traitors,” “criminals” and, above all, “terrorists” after leaving their homeland.
  10. Uzbek refugees still struggle with the Uzbekistan government after fleeing the country. The Uzbekistan government has surveilled people in the country for a long time, but Amnesty International says they have received reports of Uzbek refugees being spied on outside of Uzbekistan, likely by government hackers.

Some Uzbek refugees have had to bounce from country to country until they feel safe from the Uzbekistan government. Furthermore, countries like neighboring Kyrgyzstan, close to Uzbekistan geographically and culturally, deport Uzbek refugees in compliance with the Uzbekistan government’s request. Kyrgyzstan has never granted the request of an Uzbek refugee.

President Islam Karimov ruled Uzbekistan from its independence from the Soviet Union until his death in September 2016. The current president, Shavkat Mirziyaev, has vowed to bring human rights reforms to Uzbekistan. However, organizations like the Human Rights Watch say that there has been little to no progress thus far.

David Mclellan

Photo: Google

With a population of 32 million, Uzbekistan is one of the largest and fastest-growing countries in Central Asia and, as a result, it has faced a number of challenges regarding hunger and malnutrition. In 2016, the Global Hunger Index listed Uzbekistan as a country suffering from moderate hunger problems, citing 4.2 percent of the population as undernourished. Uzbekistan ranks 63rd on the 2016 index, just outside of the top 50 countries experiencing “alarming” hunger rates. This ranking comes as no surprise, but the nation has taken great strides toward addressing the underlying causes of hunger in Uzbekistan.

In the last decade, Uzbekistan has made monumental progress in battling its hunger issue. Compare the undernourished population of 4.2 percent in 2016 to 2013’s 5.5 percent — and 2008’s 9.4 percent. Since 1990, Uzbekistan has been one of the 26 countries to have successfully reduced hunger by more than half.

One of biggest reasons for these decreasing hunger rates is a decline in the amount of poverty in Uzbekistan thanks to sustained economic growth, educational opportunities and increased employment. The former Soviet Republic leads Central Asia with an economic growth rate of around eight percent annually since 2011. Prosperity in recent years even prompted the World Bank in 2011 to reclassify the country from a low-income to a lower middle-income nation.

A concentrated effort to increase wheat production has specifically attacked the issue of hunger in Uzbekistan. As the country continues to grow, greater demand for agricultural products like wheat and cattle has helped rural farmers feed their communities and contribute to solving the hunger problem.

The efforts of countries like Uzbekistan helped contribute to a 29 percent drop in hunger levels globally since 2000, according to the Global Health Index. The GHI’s main goal focuses on achieving zero hunger by 2030, a mark dependent upon further reform and the acceleration in hunger’s decline in Central Asia, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Nicholas Dugan

Photo: Flickr

tertiary education in Uzbekistan
Recent trends show that although education in Uzbekistan has come a long way since the nation’s Soviet days, Uzbekistan needs to focus on improving its tertiary education to secure a successful economic and social future. Currently, tertiary enrollment in Uzbekistan is among the lowest in Central Asia at just 15 percent.

After Uzbekistan gained independence in 1991 from the Soviet Union, the Uzbekistani government shifted its focus to prioritizing educational reform. However, major economic and social challenges were placed on Uzbekistan as a result of past Soviet reforms, making it difficult for Uzbekistan to reform its education system. Although Uzbekistan has put effort into improving its economy and social system, education in Uzbekistan needs attention, especially postsecondary education.

When first comparing general education net enrollment rates in Uzbekistan to respective sub-regional and regional averages, the country is above average for primary and secondary school enrollment. However, learning outcomes and overall education quality is concerning. Despite recent reforms such as increasing teacher salaries and revising the Law on Education, school performance is subpar. UNICEF states that Uzbekistan has plans to improve school infrastructure, teacher working conditions, and access to quality basic education. The World Bank believes that the biggest concern for education in Uzbekistan is tertiary education.

Over the past 20 years, Uzbekistan’s economy has shifted from agriculture to the service sector. According to the World Bank, tertiary education in Uzbekistan has failed to adapt to this shift in the economy and the limited access to tertiary education is concerning for the future of Uzbekistan. Statistics show that of total public spending on education in Uzbekistan, only 5.2 percent is spent on higher education. Many firms report that it is difficult to find qualified specialists in Uzbekistan due to the lack of higher education. It is predicted that if Uzbekistan does not shift its focus to postsecondary education, then there will be long-term ramifications on the economy, ultimately creating more social challenges in Uzbekistan.

Reports state that “experts from the World Bank Group have worked with key stakeholders in the country to analyze the challenges and design policies, recommendations, and interventions capable of overcoming these challenges.”

A recent report titled “Uzbekistan: Modernizing Tertiary Education” explores the education system in Uzbekistan and its relations to the economy. Experts believe that by doing things such as expanding equitable access to higher education for all students and increasing spending on tertiary education, Uzbekistan will see more economic growth.

Morgan Leahy

Photo: Flickr