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: Getting entrepreneurs back on their feet
Yesterday was a really good day. We approved over 130 “equity grants” (cash disbursements) to micro-entrepreneurs who suffered direct losses. Mostly their businesses or inventories had been burned or looted.
Kyrgyzstan: A day spent assessing the damage in Osh
I was feeling the heat by mid-morning in Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second largest city. I took refuge from the sun under a slice of metal roofing. Less than a minute passed before a firm grip on my forearm gently escorted me away from my prized spot of shade.
Kyrgyzstan: VIDEO: Bleeding hearts and pragmatic minds
Ainash Mamatova and her husband had just finished remodeling their home earlier this year; it had taken them many years to save up enough money to do this. Ainash had worked at the bazaar for 16 years, mainly selling shoes.
Kyrgyzstan: A fund in Kyrgyzstan to rebuild micro-enterprises
In a quiet Osh neighborhood there stands a torched shop with no roof. The hot afternoon sun shines over what little remains of Nadira Abdusatarova’s once-thriving seamstress business.
Kyrgyzstan: There vs. Here
There: I rode the N-Judah to work, which could take anywhere from 20-50 minutes depending on SF Muni's mood. Here: My flatmate and I walk to work, playing “Frogger” as we cross the streets (jaywalking is standard here, but that doesn't mean drivers slow down).
Kyrgyzstan: On the Streets of Osh
Gul Luba stood in front of her burnt-out home. It was also her burnt-out business. She sold food items and cold drinks out of her store front facing a main road in the heart of Osh city. She stands stout, has a round face that expresses experience, and sun hardened skin.
Kyrgyzstan: VIDEO: How Kompanion is spurring development in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan: Distributing food, relief items in southern Kyrgyzstan
Over the weekend we distributed US$17,000 worth of relief items -- baby food, salt, soap, towels, toilet paper, dishware, detergent, diapers and bedding -- in two locations.
Kyrgyzstan: VIDEO: Renewing local economies in Kyrgyzstan
In response to the recent violence in Osh and Jalalabad, Mercy Corps has provided local area hospitals with baby food, sanitation products and basic medical supplies.
Kyrgyzstan: Responding to needs in displacement camps and host communities