Children seated at desks in school in kyrgyzstan

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.

The context

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.

Our team

Mercy corps' country director serves breakfast to primary grade children at one of the program schools where we work in kyrgyzstan
Uma Kandalaeva, Mercy Corps' Country Director in Kyrgyzstan, serves breakfast to primary grade children at one of the 500+ program schools where we work.

The Mercy Corps team consists of approximately 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.

Our impact

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.
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