Child Poverty in UzbekistanUzbekistan has made remarkable strides in reducing poverty and improving child welfare. Despite these gains, child poverty in Uzbekistan remains a pressing issue, with many children living in disadvantaged conditions. 

Declining Child Mortality Rate 

Uzbekistan has significantly reduced the infant and under-5 mortality rates over the past four decades. According to World Bank data, the infant mortality rate fell drastically from 98 per 1,000 live births in 1980 to just 13 per 1,000 live births in 2021. Likewise, the under-5 mortality rate reached an all-time low of 14 per 1,000 live births in 2021. 

Child Poverty in Uzbekistan

Nonetheless, child poverty remains a pressing issue in Uzbekistan. UNICEF’s 2019 report, “Building a Better Future: A Child-sensitive Social Protection System for Uzbekistan,” stated that 30% of young children and 24% of children between five to 14 years old belong to the poorest quintile of Uzbekistan. While the general poverty in Uzbekistan is 21%, the child poverty rate stood higher at 24%. 

As of 2019, 57% of children in the country lived on less than 10,000 UZS per day, approximately 1.5 times the minimum wage. The minimum wage in Uzbekistan also serves as the income eligibility threshold for families to receive child benefits. The prevailing circumstances signified that many children lived in households struggling to provide adequate child care. 

UNICEF currently estimates that children in Uzbekistan are one and a half times more likely to be poor than adults.


Many young children in Uzbekistan experience undernutrition. Another 2019 UNICEF report, “Building a National Social Protection System Fit For Uzbekistan’s Children and Youth,” reported that 9% of children are stunted, causing irreversible damage to the children’s cognitive development. The report also highlighted that stunted children were likely to earn 26% less as adults than their non-stunted peers, further exacerbating a cycle of poverty and inequality. 

However, from 2002 to 2017, the stunting rate in Uzbekistan dropped from 21% to 8.7%, thanks to Uzbekistan’s immense strides in reducing malnutrition and expanding social welfare.  

Children With Disabilities 

In 2019, 13% of children with disabilities between the ages of 7 and 15 were not enrolled in school. Nearly one-third of young people with disabilities could not attain any diploma, limiting their educational and employment opportunities.

Moreover, UNICEF also determined that 52% of children with severe disabilities lacked access to services from the Child Disability Benefits program, indicating the limited reach of social support for vulnerable children and their families in Uzbekistan.

Social Insecurity 

52% of Uzbekistan’s impoverished households are excluded from any support by the national social protection system, leaving many families with children without benefits and social services. Subsequently, only 17% of children living in households have access to child benefits, only 23% of children under two gain Child Allowance, and only 10% of children between 2 to 14 years old collect the Family Allowance.

Ongoing Efforts by UNICEF

Currently, UNICEF’s global interventions emphasize child-sensitive social protection programs and investing in early childhood and adolescent development. For example, UNICEF is helping Uzbekistan develop a cash benefits program to address household income poverty. The organization plans to further invest in childhood education, health care access, clean water and sanitation to provide impoverished children with the needed care, security and nutrition. The organization hopes to establish sustainable social investments and integrate child-poverty-reduction policies into government budgets. 

Addressing child poverty, improving social security systems and ensuring better access to education and health care for children with disabilities are crucial areas that require concerted efforts from the government, civil society and international organizations to improve the well-being of children in Uzbekistan. 

– Freya Ngo
Photo: Flickr

Charities in UzbekistanUzbekistan has a population of 35 million citizens with nearly 17% of the population living below the national poverty line. Corruption and gender-based violence run rampant in the country with a lack of freedom of expression. Here are five charities in Uzbekistan that are actively guiding the country towards a better future.

5 Charities Operating in Uzbekistan

  1. The Rory Peck Trust – The Rory Peck Trust is an NGO dedicated to aiding freelance journalists and their families during challenging times across the globe. It was established two years after the death of Rory Peck, a brave freelance cameraman who died in a crossfire in Moscow. Peck was reporting Russia’s October coup during the Russian constitutional crises in 1993. The organization aims to elevate the visibility of journalists, safeguard their well-being and security and defend their freedom to report without constraints. One of the most innovative charities in Uzbekistan, they provide psychological support, monetary aid and safety training for journalists. The trust has supported more than 100 journalists reporting in Ukraine during the last 12 months of the Ukraine war. In 2019, at the Human Rights House Tbilisi in Georgia, the Trust partnered with the Justice for Journalists Foundation to provide safety training to Russian-speaking media professionals from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Belarus and Armenia. They also host the prestigious Rory Peck Awards annually, a celebration that honors the bravery and accomplishments of freelance journalists and filmmakers across the world.
  2. The Smile Train – The Smile Train empowers local medical professionals across the world by equipping them with the skills necessary to provide life-changing cleft care and free surgeries to patients who might otherwise not have access to such services. Out of all the charities in Uzbekistan, the Smile Train is the biggest cleft-focused NGO. The organization is dedicated to ensuring that children in need receive the best possible treatment for their condition. They have completed more than 4,000 surgeries in Uzbekistan.
  3. Anti-Slavery International – Anti-Slavery International is the world’s oldest international human rights organization. It was founded in 1839 by Thomas Clarkson, Thomas Fowell Buxton and several other abolitionists. It is not only one of the most important charities in Uzbekistan but the entire world. The organization supports the fundamental human right of freedom for everyone. Around 50 million people suffer from modern slavery around the world today. For 15 years, Anti-Slavery International, the Cotton Campaign, the Uzbek Forum for Human Rights and several other NGOs have been advocating with the United Nations and the International Labor Organization to stop forced and child labor in Uzbekistan. In 2021, the organization made a historic achievement by eliminating state-imposed forced labor in the Uzbek cotton harvest in the country. Uzbekistan has unlocked the potential to export cotton textiles to countries around the world. However, wider labor risks remain in the country. International companies need to be ethical and stop exploitation of Uzbekistan’s cotton textiles.
  4. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – Médecins Sans Frontières is French for ‘Doctors Without Borders.’ It is a renowned international medical humanitarian organization committed to delivering high-quality medical care to individuals facing crises, regardless of their race, religion or political beliefs. Over 1 million patients are admitted to MSF clinics across the globe. MSF was established in France by a group of journalists and doctors during the beginning of the war and famine in the temporary state of Biafra in Nigeria in 1971. They extend their assistance to people affected by war, disease, natural and human-made disasters and those marginalized from access to health care in over 70 countries. In Uzbekistan, MSF primarily focuses on addressing the challenges posed by multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) patients. They introduced directly observed treatment (DOT) to combat the issue. This is an innovative approach that was invented using video links during lockdowns. Through this method, TB patients receive their treatment at home, with the guidance and supervision of a nurse virtually. By leveraging technology, MSF aims to ensure the continuity of TB treatment even during challenging circumstances.
  5. SOS Children’s Villages – SOS Children’s Villages is a prominent international NGO dedicated to providing essential support to children without parental care and families facing the risk of separation. One of the major charities in Uzbekistan, they provide support to vulnerable families and children during crisis situations, offer educational aid to teachers and children in the region and create loving and nurturing homes for children who have lost parental care. So far, they have brought up more than 170 children in the cities of Tashkent, Samarkand and Urgench. The organization was founded by six individuals: Hermann Gmeiner, Maria Hofer, Josef Jestl, Ludwig Kögel, Herbert Pfanner and Hedwig Weingartner in 1949 in Austria. Thousands of children had lost their families because of the Second World War. In the past 70 years, they have supported around 4 million young people with programs that are flexible and can be suited to different races, cultures and religions. The organization has roots in the capital of Tashkent in 2000. They are currently supporting around 150 adolescents in the city.

These charities in Uzbekistan endeavor to create a positive impact on the lives of the Uzbek people as well as international journalists and reporters.

– Sharvi Rana
Photo: Unsplash

Poverty in Uzbekistan
Situated between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan sits the culturally rich and beautiful country of Uzbekistan. With thriving cities and lush mountainsides, Uzbekistan’s environment makes for blossoming communities. However, the country and communities within it have drastically changed within the last two decades. The Uzbekistan government has successfully lowered poverty rates, decreased unemployment rates and increased education, although these instances rarely make headlines. Here are five facts to know about poverty in Uzbekistan.

5  Facts About Poverty in Uzbekistan

  1. A Large Drop in Poverty Rates: The poverty rate has decreased by a staggering 14.7% in less than a decade. The national poverty rate in 2015 was 12.8%, in comparison to 27.5% in 2001.
  2. The Issue of Unemployment: In 2019, 5.9% of Uzbekistan’s population did not have employment, and 19.7% of those unemployed made less than $2 a day. A lack of job opportunities and a distinct living standard between those in urban and rural areas are only some challenges the country is facing. Due to unemployment, many choose to migrate to Kazakhstan or Russia in hopes of more opportunities to send money back home to loved ones.
  3. Maternal Mortality: In 2000, the maternal mortality rate was 33.1 for every 100,000 births. By 2013, that number had fallen to 20. The fertility rate and the number of unplanned pregnancies had also decreased. Further, rectifying vitamin A, iodine and iron deficiencies as well as affordability and effectiveness have become critical in the development of national health care programs.
  4. Growing Access to Education: In 2017, only 29% of children between the ages of 3 and 7 had been enrolled in educational facilities. The Uzbekistan government, through a project in collaboration with the World Bank, predicts that 40% of children within that age range will be part of education programs by 2024. The project aims to combat the high student-to-teacher ratio and create remote learning programs for those in rural areas. Access to education is one of the most important ways to fight poverty. Education helps reduce inequality, strengthen the economy and lower the risk of vulnerability.
  5. Water Access: In March 2020, Uzbekistan accepted a $239 million credit from the World Bank to invest in a water service project. This project aims to reduce water loss and energy usage through improved sewage infrastructure within five communities. When the project reaches completion, more than 500,000 people throughout Uzbekistan will have access to clean water. Access to water will help those in rural areas become more sustainable. Staying clean, hydrating and growing crops will become more available.

Looking Ahead

With a continuous decrease in poverty rates and an increase in educational and sanitation infrastructure, Uzbekistan has made large strides to improve the lives of its citizens. Poverty in Uzbekistan has dramatically shifted over the last two decades. Unemployment rates have dropped, neonatal mortality rates have decreased by more than half and resources such as education and clean water are becoming more accessible to all communities. With progress like this, Uzbekistan is on its way to great improvement.

Hannah Kaufman
Photo: Flickr

Water Supply in Karakalpakstan
The autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan occupies the entire northwestern end of the country of Uzbekistan. With a poverty rate of 32 percent, this region is considered one of the poorest in Uzbekistan.

The Necessity of Water

Because most of this nation’s produce comes from agricultural production, water is an essential resource for the people of Karakalpakstan. The economy is supported through the production of cotton, melons and livestock, making extensive irrigation systems critical for the smooth execution of farming practices and water management.

Water is essential to life in Karakalpakstan; more than 30,000 hectares of land have been abandoned because of the lack of water. Since the shortage of water in the region often results from farmers using water inefficiently, new and effective water-saving technologies are in high demand.

Improving irrigation systems would help these impoverished farmers move out of poverty. Effective water management can reduce the cost of supplying and storing water, which would inevitably increase the farmers’ yields and enable them to cultivate more crops. With a steady and reliable source of water supply in Karakalpakstan, the region’s farmers can be assured that they will be able to tend to their crops and rely on them for financial support.

The Project to Improve Water Supply in Karakalpakstan

In response to the ongoing water crisis, the World Bank initiated a project that aims to help 1,500 private farms and 40,000 small farming households secure access to water in Karakalpakstan.

The South Karakalpakstan Water Resources Management Improvement Project (SKWRMIP) for Uzbekistan focuses on the restoration of irrigation systems and improvements in water management. With 80 percent of its resources aimed at irrigation and drainage, the project aims to build a sustainable water distribution system and a financially stable community of farmers.

“Better water management and irrigation will lead to increased farm productivity, and thus help farmers in South Karakalpakstan build their assets and improve their living standards,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, the World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia. “We estimate that 41,000 water users will be provided with new or improved irrigation and drainage services under this project.”

Financial Benefits of the Project

This project would replace the 1950s water infrastructure in Uzbekistan, which is experiencing many complications due to age. The deteriorating infrastructure and poor water management of the 1950s system is estimated to cost Uzbekistani government $1.7 billion USD annually. However, the SKWRMIP proposal comes with a total annual energy cost of $2.4 million USD, saving the government a significant amount.  It also relieves much of the burden on rural farmers paying operation and distribution fees, allowing them the freedom to save the money for themselves.

“Our firm is planning to complete the civil works along the Buston channel this year. Thousands of farmers in several districts of South Karakalpakstan will be able to receive water for the irrigation of their lands,” said Islombek Ismatov, a SKWRMIP construction manager. “Lack of water in this region makes it more valuable than gold.”

In regions like Karakalpakstan, water is extremely valuable for livelihood. Water supply has been erratic and fleeting over the past few decades in the Republic of Karakalpakstan, but the SKWRMIP works to build and maintain a functional and accessible source of water supply in the region.

– Jenny S Park
Photo: Google

credit access in Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan is setting strong economic precedents for the European and Central Asian region. New supportive legislative policies have increased government spending on education and training programs. Global economists argue this is one of the main reasons Uzbekistan’s GDP has increased by more than eight percent the past three years.

Recent economic success is also attributed to growing economic freedom allowed by a currently changing Soviet-style economy. Uzbekistan has the most diversified economy in Central Asia. This provides an increase in GDP per capita, which has been increasing steadily over the past three years as well. Improvements in GDP per capita are strong indicators of improvement in personal living standards.

At present, the service sector accounts for about 45 percent of GDP. Examples of common Uzbekistan services include car repairs, the medical industry, teaching and the food industry. Not far behind services lies industry and agriculture. Uzbekistan is the world’s fifth-leading cotton exporter and seventh-leading producer.

Economic projections for the private sector show a steady increase over the next few years. Fiscal space in the government budget allows the economy to increase stimulus without increasing public debt. This leaves the public to continue growing in wealth while working simultaneously to steadily boost GDP.

The Banking System

Credit access in Uzbekistan is likely to increase due to recent banking growth. More money circulating through the Uzbekistan economy raises banking lending power. In the past, Uzbekistan banking systems limited access to foreign investments due to governmental regulations. Almost all money contributed had come from the domestic system.

Exclusive banking provided benefits such as domestic accountability. An increase in Uzbekistan credit access relied on loans by the population. Other past pros to this system included resilience to global financial crises. Banks proved most effective in 2014 when domestic capital injections provided immunity from failing global counterparts.

This, however, has changed in 2018. Total banking capital increased 26 percent in 2014, and this year banking directors met to discuss boosting central bank interdependence with foreign allies to target foreseen inflation rates.

Banking directors continue to emphasize the importance of regulation to create and maintain a newly inclusive baking system. The new system would include an interactive global policy regarding foreign loans and cooperation.

Personal Credit Access in Uzbekistan

Smaller banking also influences credit access in Uzbekistan. A closer look reveals smaller economic changes, some of which include assistance from the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The IFC is a member of the World Bank and works to improve business in the private sectors of developing countries.

Private sector investments from the IFC have improved credit access in Uzbekistan in several ways. For example, the financial Markets Infrastructure Program (2009 to present) aims to create and improve credit information sharing. Members of the public can now receive an accurate prediction of loan repayment possibilities.

The current program also educates possible loan participants on formal risk factors associated with taking a loan. The certification for financial institution employees is the most prevalent in this project, as it allows job creation while creating a more knowledgeable private sector.

The Mortgage Market Development Project also instituted public credit access in Uzbekistan by improving mortgage lending procedures in local banks, made possible through set lending practices. Both programs continue today, allowing the general public higher access to jobs, loans and savings options.

Strong Projections

Expansion into the global economic sphere is a huge step for Uzbekistan, as previous years of Soviet-style economics would not have allowed this type of growth. Compared to its European-Asian counterparts, the Uzbekistan economy is at the forefront of balance and diversity.

The shift from exclusive banking to possibly inclusive is a prime example of the forward economic thinking propelling the country forward. Further improvements to liberalize the Uzbekistan economy, establish rule of law, social safety, constructive foreign policy and personal banking are also paving the way for success in the coming years.

– Logan Moore
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Uzbekistan

Poverty in Uzbekistan is dropping. Though rarely seen making headlines, the country of Uzbekistan has seen sustained growth over the past several years. If trends continue, the country is expected to be on its way towards becoming a successful, developed country free from extreme poverty in the near future. Below are ten facts about poverty in Uzbekistan and the progress to alleviate it.

10 Facts About Poverty in Uzbekistan

  1. In a population of just over 31 million, 13.7% live below the poverty line. This is down from nearly 30% in 2001.
  2. While Uzbekistan has experienced increased urbanization in recent years, 75% of those living in extreme poverty in Uzbekistan still live in rural areas.
  3. Child health remains a hurdle to overcome, with 34 out of every 1,000 babies dying before their first birthday. In comparison, only six babies die in the first year of life on average in the U.S.
  4. Poverty in Uzbekistan is contradicted by the overall economic growth of over 8% in the past five years.
  5. In 2011, The World Bank reclassified Uzbekistan from a low-income country to a lower-middle income country. This indicates the country is making sustained progress toward development.
  6. Between 2001 and 2013, real wages doubled as job prospects improved.
  7. Education, often a prerequisite for growth and poverty reduction, has risen to 99.8% as of 2013.
  8. Foreign trade has quadrupled in the past 15 years, helping to improve household incomes across the country.
  9. Recent investment through The World Bank has provided more than 60,000 farmers with training in improved crop protection and pest control. This has allowed farmers to improve their crop yield, thereby increasing their income and reducing poverty.
  10. To further reduce poverty in Uzbekistan and improve living conditions, the country has set a goal of becoming an industrialized, upper-middle income country by 2030.

With steady growth and economic improvements, Uzbekistan has positioned itself to become a successful, developed nation in the near future. As these improvements continue, poverty in Uzbekistan is anticipated to decline and living standards should significantly improve across the country.

Sara Christensen

Photo: Flickr