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: Oh where have you been, my blue eyed son?
Name that tune!
Kyrgyzstan: The humbling reality of recent events
I was several days into my Mercy Corps internship and still couldn’t kick the jet-leg. I decided to trade in the view of my bedroom ceiling for some fresh air. I walked towards the city center as dawn crept over the jagged snowcapped peaks of Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyzstan: You're going where?
A couple of weeks ago, I began informing my friends and family that I will be spending this summer interning out of Mercy Corps’ Kyrgyzstan office. Apart from the "Borat" jokes (wrong country, folks), general responses have included:
Kyrgyzstan: Toilets and community capacity development
I arrived on a typical school day to what seemed an empty school. That was because everyone was in the bathroom!
Kyrgyzstan: Getting creative with nutrition for Kyrgyz kindergarteners
Kyrgyzstan: Microfinance and development in Kyrgyzstan
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Kyrgyzstan: Kyrgyzstan: A confluence of crisis
The paradox of development is when our work meets a need, but that need has arisen from an unforeseen event or conditions.
Kyrgyzstan: Leaving a Blooming Legacy
The 2,000 people of Tosor are proud of their little lakeside village. Located at the base of a spectacular mountain range, on the shores of one of the world's largest mountain lakes, Tosor boasts a long history of writers, painters and composers.
Kyrgyzstan: Apple Festival Unites Villages of Southern Issyk-Kul
On October 10, 2008, the Association of Orchardists and the Gardens and Plastics (GAP) project held the Third Annual Apple Festival in the village of Kyzyl-Tuu on the southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyz Republic
Kyrgyzstan: Building Furniture and a Foundation
Earlier this year, the sound of saws returned to an abandoned furniture-making plant in the center of Kyzylkia, a once-prosperous industrial town located in the heart of Kyrgyzstan's Ferghana Valley.