Kyrgyzstan: Food for Work in progress

Bishkek (19 August 2010) - As part of a jointly run "Food for Work" project, by WFP and UNDP, the village of An-Aryk, in the oblast of Chuy, Northern Kyrgyzstan, today successfully completed the distribution of a 23 MT consignment of wheat flour and around 2 MT of vegetable oil.

The village project has provided the incentive to get together a community, with a view to regenerate part of its public infrastructure, which would otherwise have been left abandoned and in ruins.

In clearing a blocked irrigation canal, the danger for flooding and the potential for a public health hazard - due to stagnant water, a breeding ground for mosquitoes - was averted, as well as the damage to local housing and food stocks, which saw damp and seepage in cellars.

Clearing around one kilometre of canal and around 1,200 cubic metres of earth and debris, the project was to provide ten days work to a village, whose population of 876 people, who are largely food insecure and rely mostly on agriculture for their subsistence.

Noted for high poverty rates, affecting 51% of the population, who live under the poverty line, the village of An-Aryk was chosen by UNDP's Disaster Risk Management Programme and WFP for the implementation of this project- based on prior needs assessment. With a flexible timetable, participants could continue to work in the fields, as well as provide the manual work within the framework of the project.

While WFP provided in-kind remuneration for the work performed by each participant (based on the amount of work done); UNDP provided some 70,000 soms (approx. US$ 1,520 for the purchase of construction material and fuel. Prior to its commencement, WFP and UNDP conducted training sessions for the community on the project implementation stages and requirements, discussing all stages with those involved.

A commitment from the community was made to continue seasonal maintenance work and to ensure functioning of the canal, in order to avoid similar problems in the future. With this, community provided labour, and the local authorities managed beneficiary selection, implementation monitoring and assistance during the distribution process.

With most of the young people in An-Aryk working seasonally on land or travelling to Bishkek to seek employment, this WFP/ UNDP initiative has provided a boost to an impoverished village economy, with 57 people, from each household, participating in the initiative, including a number of local women. Although the number of participants may seem to be relatively low, the whole population of An-Anaryk (some 850) are today benefiting from the results.

WFP and UNDP's Disaster Risk Management Programme completed 4 projects, similar to the one in An-Aryk, in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, and affecting some 3,500 people- aiming at mitigating disaster and improving agricultural infrastructure. Moreover, WFP and UNDP have now projects in 80 villages; in addition, WFP is working with FAO, UNIFEM, and a local NGO CDA, as direct projects with local authorities.