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WFP to Expand Kyrgyzstan Operations Before Winter Sets in

OSH – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is gearing up its operations in Kyrgyzstan, taking into account rising food prices, a poor harvest, the onset of winter and the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the ethnic violence that erupted in the south of the country in June.

“Donor response has so far been very positive – for which we are extremely grateful,” said Carl Paulsson, WFP Kyrgyzstan Officer in Charge. “But we are going to have to ask the donors to dig even deeper into their pockets to prevent people going hungry through the winter.”

A nationwide Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) carried out by WFP in July showed that more than one quarter of Kyrgyz households – or some 1.4 million people – were food insecure.  And this was in midsummer, when food availability is at its highest. WFP plans to assist the most vulnerable amongst them.

The report warns that a further  340,000 people are at risk of becoming food insecure over the coming months, due to the deteriorating economic situation  and winter hardship, when food stocks are exhausted and additional expenses are required for heating and winter clothing.

The EFSA noted that food insecurity was high in Osh and Jalal-Abad provinces, where ethnic violence broke out in June, and the situation remains extremely volatile. The impact of the events will not be fully reversed by the reconstruction of infrastructure or payment of compensation for lost lives and livelihoods.

Food insecurity among the estimated 84,000 people displaced by the violence (IDPs) had reached alarming levels by July and is expected to deteriorate further.  The food security status of all residents in the affected areas is also expected to worsen, as access to jobs, fields and markets remains problematic.

In the meantime, the recently announced ban on grain exports by Russia has already driven up the price of flour. Prices are increasing from traders in Kazakhstan, on which Kyrgyzstan depends for the bulk of its wheat imports.

Even before the violence, WFP was providing food assistance to up to 333,000 vulnerable people to help them through the lean winter months and had started a number of  food-for-work projects in rural areas, with beneficiaries working to improve community infrastructure including road repairs and maintenance, tree planting and river bank protection.

In the wake of the violence, WFP carried out blanket distributions to some 530,000 people living in affected areas. Starting in September, distributions will be targeted to some 287,000 of the most severely affected and food insecure, who will receive a monthly ration at least until the end of the year.

WFP is also planning direct cash transfers from next month to some 37,000 IDPs in the affected areas to help them purchase complementary food over and above the ration they already receive from WFP.

For Further Information:
Abeer Etefa, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +2 02 25281730 ext. 2600, Mob. +2 016 663 4352
Dena Gudaitis, WFP/New York, Tel.  +1 6465566914, Mob. +1 9173402588