The power of civil society: Making nutrition voices heard in Kyrgyzstan – Kyrgyzstan

The Food Security and Nutrition Programme in Kyrgyzstan for 2019-2023 is a nationwide cross-sectoral policy, aimed at ensuring food security and high-quality nutrition for every Kyrgyz citizen. With the support of the SUN Movement Pooled Fund, Civil Society Alliance SUN Kyrgyzstan was able to integrate the right to food and guidelines on using local products into the Programme, with a total of 11 out of their 14 proposals accepted.

Since stunting rates remain moderately high at 12% in the Central Asian state, the Civil Society Alliance (CSA) SUN Kyrgyzstan identified the Food Security and Nutrition Programme 2019-2023 as a key opportunity to engage the government and advance its nutrition agenda. In addition to appointing eight parliamentary Nutrition Champions as speakers in roundtables in food security discussions, the CSA SUN Kyrgyzstan lifted the voices of citizens affected by the Programme into the consultation process.

Representatives of villages and members of the CSA participated in discussions leading up to the Food Security and Nutrition Programme. They helped to prepare regional nutrition plans and held public hearings thanks to training financed by the Pooled Fund. Local representatives sent letters to parliamentarians, arranged meetings, contacted media outlets, held press conferences, and promoted the cause on social media. In turn, sharing knowledge on peaceful and constructive advocacy created an enabling environment for local demands in nutrition.

Azamat Turumbekov, headman of the Zhalgyz Terek village in the Naryn district, explains the situation before the CSA SUN Kyrgyzstan supported him:

“From year to year, our village is promised to be included into the program for providing clean water, but the turn does not reach our village in any way. We are told, be patient, there is no money. In a neighbouring village, a school, a kindergarten was built in a year, the road was repaired. There are no deputies from our village, well-known opinion leaders who could pay attention to the problems of the village.”

After participating in activities funded by the SUN Movement Pooled Fund, Azamat is now active in talking to the media and writing letters about the needs of the village to parliamentarians. He met with parliamentarians and raised the issue at press conferences. Together with the international news agency Azattyk he prepared the report “Okmottun ogoy ayil”, highlighting the lack of water resources leading to insufficient nutrition. As a result, the Asian Development Bank promised to allocate 27 million soms, or approximately USD 320.000, to support his village’s needs.

The CSA SUN Kyrgyzstan collected concerns from his village, and several others within the Naryn, Jumgal, Jety Oguz, and the Tyup districts and included in their inputs to the Food Security and Nutrition Programme in Kyrgyzstan for 2019-2023. Eleven out of 14 village proposals were accepted in the national programme.

Since food security is one of the main priorities of the country’s sustainable development plan and a factor in its food independence, the Food Security and Nutrition Programme includes a wide range of activities in sectors such as agriculture, health care, education and social protection. With valuable input from the CSA SUN Kyrgyzstan, the Food Security and Nutrition Programme for 2019-2023 aligns with the global World Health Assembly (WHA) targets to improve maternal, infant and young child nutrition.

It is with hard work, local engagement, and a collaborative spirit that stakeholders will end all forms of malnutrition in Kyrgyzstan.

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