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: Teaching street kids a lesson
Kyrgyzstan: Helping Quake Survivors
Mercy Corps is helping house families left homeless after an Oct. 5 earthquake struck Kyrgyzstan's mountainous Alai Region.
Kyrgyzstan: The Apple Project Video
This nine-minute documentary shows every step of the Apple Project, Mercy Corps' program to help farmers grow better varieties of apples and to increase their financial independence in one of Central Asia's poorest countries.
Kyrgyzstan: Aziz: Welding His Way to Work
Kyrgyzstan: A Recipe for Healthy Kids
It's nearly lunchtime in Kyrgyzstan, and the kindergarteners in Nasiba Tashirova's classroom are getting a bit restless. A gaggle of bouncy boys and girls are dancing and exchanging handclaps while their teacher helps a group of classmates wash up for lunch.
Kyrgyzstan: Seedlings of Change
Nearly one million families in Kyrgyzstan tend home gardens. Most of these families grow apples. And many rely on the income they get from the round fruits — which originated in modern-day Kyrgyzstan and its northern neighbor, Kazakhstan — for life's basic necessities.
Kyrgyzstan: Selling the Harvest
Tamga, Kyrgyzstan — Mariam Jeenalieve's backyard orchard produces a colorful mix of apples: there's the Chinese Kulon Kitika, recognized by its alternate streaks of pink and lime-green, the golden-yellow Tashaima, and an inordinate number of pale-red McIntosh.
Kyrgyzstan: Learning to Grow
Tamga, Kyrgyzstan — It's a crisp, late-September morning that feels perfect for plucking apples, and a tree in Murat Toguzbaev's backyard is sagging with dozens of plump Red Delicious varietals just ripe for the picking.
Kyrgyzstan: Tools for Sustainable Change
Kyrgyzstan: The Pearl of Kyrgyzstan
The village of Ornok sits on the touristy northern shores of Lake Issyk Kul, the so-called "The Pearl of Kyrgyzstan."