Burulbu is standing in front of her little house with her two children. Photo: WFP/Jyldyz Begalieva
WFP seasonal assistance to the poorest rural communities across the country helps many families cope with the consequences of the harsh winter they had been through. The family of thirty-year old Burulbu Moldomusaeva is among those families who have been worst-hit by the cold season and has benefited from WFP food assistance.
Burulbu lives with her two toddlers in a small, inaccessible mountain village in southern Kyrgyzstan. “This year winter was very long and cold and we used up the entire food stocks as low temperatures kept all of us at home,” says Burulbu. “We couldn’t even borrow food from neighbours as we all shared the same fate”.
The village sits on an extensive mountainous terrain at 3,000 metres above sea level. Prolonged seasonal constraints; heavy snowfall in winter and floods and avalanches in spring mean the only life-line transport route to the village is available for a short period in late spring and summer before the autumn snowfalls cuts the road off. This season WFP raced against time to reach this remote and food-insecure community with life-saving assistance for Burulbu and her community. By the end of June, WFP will have delivered three-month food rations to more than 370,000 of the poorest people in the most food-insecure rural areas across the country.
Burulbu’s family lives in one of the poorest province in Kyrgyzstan, Jalal-Abad, where poverty exceeds the national average reaching an alarming 45 percent and job prospects are scarce. The majority of Jalal-Abad residents work in farming their own lands or, like Burulbu's husband, leave the village in search for work. However, Burulbu’s husband has not yet been able to send any money home from Russia where he works as a migrant labourer and her property is a two-room hut the local authorities gave her as charity. She survives on earnings from pasturing other villagers’ cattle and charity from neighbours and relatives.
In the search for employment, her husband left for Russia to work as a migrant laborer. Though he left almost a year ago, he wasn’t able to send any money home yet and burdened Burulbu with the complex task of bringing up their children and supporting the family. Burulbu receives a three-month ration of staple food commodities from WFP. The fortified wheat flour and vitamin-enriched vegetable oil helped Burulbu out of penury and desperation.
This past winter and spring have exhausted Burulbu’s scarce resources and tested her ability to survive as extreme temperatures of –30 to –40 Celsius made any work impossible. Burulbu spent her entire earnings on warming the house while spending weeks eating only bread and tea.
“The last time my children ate meat was in March when we celebrated Nooruz (a holiday commemorating the arrival of spring) and neighbours traditionally shared plov with us,” said Burulbu. “The kids ask for sweets and I feel sorry I cannot afford them,” she says.