Food insecurity in Tajikistan
Tajikistan is an agrarian country of nearly nine million people, three-quarters of whom live in rural areas. Despite agriculture accounting for 60 percent of employment, Tajikistan has the highest rate of malnutrition among the 15 former Soviet republics. Recurring natural disasters expose low-income families in rural communities to chronic food insecurity while vast plots of agricultural land are being degraded by pervasive deforestation, soil erosion, and droughts. Approximately 31 percent of young children in the mountain communities of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) experience moderate or severe stunting, attributed to poor hygiene, inadequate knowledge and education, poor health services, and household food insecurity. In response, AKF seeks to address both immediate and long-term food and nutrition security of communities in GBAO, the most remote and isolated region of Tajikistan.
Gulrukh’s mother, Azizbegim, is nearly 72 and cannot hear properly nor move around the house without assistance. That being said, she’s the type of person you meet and immediately feel close to. The entire time I was there, I don’t think she stopped smiling once. Despite the children being at critical growing stages, the family is often forced to make a meal out of only tea with milk, salt, butter, and occasionally bread. With no source of income apart from the grandparent’s monthly pension of $50, the family is being supported by AKF as a most vulnerable household.
Winter is very difficult. We have to barter for wood to heat the house. My children go to school, but I can’t buy warm clothes for them. We struggle to find enough food.
To address their immediate needs, AKF provided Gulrukh and his family with locally-produced nutritious food items for the lean season including dried mulberry, apricot, juices, fruit jams, beans, potato, cabbage, and nuts.
Over the long-term, investments in citizen-led innovations like an all-season greenhouse and climate-resilient agriculture help local women and men find new solutions to their common challenges. Read about this work in AKFC's brief: Feeding a hunger for solutions in rural Tajikistan.