We’ve been working in Kyrgyzstan since 1994. Our work focuses on supporting children, their parents and community members and improving nutrition and health in communities. In 2017, we helped nearly 145,000 people.
Kyrgyzstan became an independent country in 1991 with the breakup of the Soviet Union. More than two-thirds of the population live in the mountainous countryside, where agriculture is the main source of income.
Despite significant economic development over the last decade, nearly a third of the population is living below the poverty line.
This poverty also leads to nutritional issues for families. The country’s most vulnerable families spend up to 70 percent of their income on food, and about 18 percent of Kyrgyz children are malnourished — some even experience stunted growth. Over 40 percent of children under 5 and 36 percent of young women are anemic.
Kyrgyzstan is also a young country. More than one third of the population is under the age of 15.
The country’s youth can be an asset. That’s why we’re invested in helping the young generation by providing nutritional programs in schools and communities and improving water access, sanitation conditions and hygiene education.
The team is led by Country Director Uma Kandalaeva and consists of around 71 national team members and two expats. During our 25 years of work, we have provided a full range of assistance: from humanitarian relief to economic recovery to long-term development programs.
In the early 2000s, we began providing humanitarian assistance to educational institutions across the country, including food and infrastructure repairs. Since 2012, we’ve been the implementing partner of the USDA McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition program. We rehabilitate school kitchens and establish school orchards, which create income-generating opportunities for the local community and small businesses.
Recently, we began focusing more on improving hygiene conditions in our target schools by building or repairing latrines, installing handwashing stations and introducing advanced filtration systems to ensure access to safe drinking water.
Since we began our work in Kyrgyzstan, we have helped hundreds of thousands of people build stronger futures. Here are just some of our results to date:
- In 2018, we reached nearly 145,000 people.
- From 2012 to 2019, our school feeding program reached 22 percent of the total schools in Kyrgyzstan.
- In 2018, we provided nutritious hot meals to more than 35,000 primary grade and preschool students.
- In 2018, we equipped 40 public schools with handwashing stations and supplies, reaching more than 7,000 primary grade students.
How to help
Kyrgyzstan: A token of gratitude, from Kyrgyzstan with love
Batina makes the felt rams that Mercy Corps gives its Partners In Mercy monthly givers. Read more about her story.
Kyrgyzstan: Nourishing success in rural communities
In mountainous Kyrgyzstan, we're helping people from the field to the classroom get the resources they need to build healthy, productive lives.
Kyrgyzstan: Meet our field staff: Alexander and Bakhtiyar
Alexander Kirillov and Bakhtiyar Ergashev have been part of our team in Kyrgyzstan since we began work there 20 years ago. Today, they're leading the fight against hunger and malnutrition in the country.
Kyrgyzstan: A new life starts with a small loan
From barely being able to feed her family to sending her kids to college, Anarkan Mambetova's story is one of many successes we're seeing after building Kyrgyzstan's microfinance services for the last decade.
Kyrgyzstan: Vegetables out of thin air
Sary-Mogol is a very remote village in the Chon-Alai region of southern Kyrgyzstan, located at 3,000 meters above sea level.
Kyrgyzstan: Cash to improve food security in southern Kyrgyzstan
On a recent crisp spring day in Osh, I was milling about one of our distribution sites in the Alymbek-Datka neighborhood, chatting with program participants.
Kyrgyzstan: A warmer New Year's Day for some deserving kids
A big "RAHMAT" — "thank you" in the Kyrgyz and Uzbek languages — to our donors who helped us respond to the crisis in Kyrgyzstan!
Kyrgyzstan: The laughter of a child
When I was briefed at Mercy Corps headquarters just before leaving for Osh this time, a field veteran mentioned an important security indicator to watch for when entering a conflict zone: the presence of children.
Kyrgyzstan: Friends in the field
According to the statistic around the world, 95 percent of Mercy Corps team members are nationals of the countries in which they work. Belonging to the other five percent I realize friendships formed with local staff, although inherently transitory, are an invaluable reward of fieldwork.
Kyrgyzstan: VIDEO: But you don't have to take MY word for it!
The decision process that goes into making a charitable contribution is different for each person. Still, most responsible donors have one thing in common — they want to know that their money is being used to help the intended recipients and that the programs being provided are beneficial.