Press tour to Osh province of Kyrgyzstan within the framework of UN Delivering as One
18 and 20 September 2013
Women represent up to 40% of the population, employed in agricultural sector, in the Kyrgyz Republic, where agricultural production prevails. Their rights to land and access to economic resources are limited. The lack of land lot and migration of their male relatives very often are resulting in limited job, income and opportunities for supporting their families. Due to this fact rural women represent the largest part of rural households with permanently low level of food security and restricted opportunities for improving social and economic status.
The joined UN FAO, UN Women and WFP press tour aimed to distribute information through the media about the positive impacts of the programme on changing the life of the most vulnerable social groups in rural areas – women of low-income families. The programme also provided possibility for the beneficiaries to summarize by themselves what lessons learned and what they managed to achieve within this project.
The press-tour has an important role in strengthening partnership not only among UN agencies and media, but also among beneficiaries of the program and local authorities. Media is used to play a vital role in the life of Kyrgyzstan, because it is considered at all levels of decision-making, and each visit of journalists gives a reason for closer and more efficient cooperation at the local level.
The project was implemented by three UN agencies in four oblasts of Kyrgyzstan, comprising 2620 households. The participants of the project receive technical assistance in the form of seeds of high-yield crops, fertilizers, sprayers, small greenhouses and permanent support of experts through consultations. It contributes not only to gross income, but also to improvement of soil fertility. Moreover, using new methods of cultivation, women increase volume of ecologically clean vegetable production at national markets – without pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Participants contribute to Rural Funds with part of their wages – these are unique, interest-free credit unions. New participants may get interest-free loans to purchase good seeds or money for a sowing campaign. Having gathered the crops, they would return seeds or money into the rural fund – so it is renewable and permanent source of funds for rural dwellers. Totally 51 Rural Funds are already established in four oblasts of Kyrgyzstan according to the project.
Within the frame of the project, the households also receive food aid in the form of fortified flour or vitamin enriched oil in order to provide their families with staple food for the period of participation in trainings and field work.
Beneficiaries of the joint UN FAO, UN Women and WFP project “Agricultural assistance to vulnerable, food insecure female-headed households” have carefully prepared to the arrival of journalists from Bishkek and Osh, heads of thee UN agencies accompanied by Dyikanbek Kenzhebaev, the deputy minister for agriculture and melioration of the KR.
The “Day of Field” was organized in Don-Bulak village, 60 km from Osh – directly on the farmer land lots. Representatives of local authorities, heads of Rural Funds from other districts of the oblast and also beneficiaries of the project from the village were invited to this event.
Reporters had interviews with rural women about knowledge obtained within the project and how this knowledge was transformed to improve welfare of their families. The women shared their future plans and answered the questions of the reporters.
This part of press tour was a particular pleasure for the partners. Three UN agencies extended letter of gratitude to the main partner of the project – the Public Foundation ”Ak-Niet” represented by its director, Busayra Abdrakhmanova, who actively assists in the development of local communities in pilot villages.
During the second half of day the participants of the press tour met the heads of Rural Funds established in Osh oblast within the framework of the first (2010-11), second (2012) and third (2013) project phases in Kenzhekul village, Karasuu district. After the welcome speech delivered by the heads of UN agencies and the deputy minister, the women told about their work, what they managed to achieve and how they save money in the Funds. They spoke about how this knowledge conveyed by donors helped them. They also shared their future plans. This part of programme aimed at demonstrating sustainable project results and after termination of donor’s aid rural dwellers will not stop and will continue their independent way of development. For instance, representatives of Rural Funds established in the first phase in 2010 told that they are ready to pay for trainings on agricultural techniques and are going to make agreements with organizations offering such services. Some Funds have already gained grants and improve infrastructure in their villages. They plan to learn and use new techniques and in general they have rather ambitious future plans.
Another important event took place in Kenzhekul - the official ceremony of opening the Rural Fund office of the village. Women proudly told to guests that the head of the village, persuaded by the effective work of the Fund and its positive influence on the development of the village, decided to pass his own office to the Fund. The women prepared an exhibition of products they raised in the fields and preserved for the winter, communicated with representatives of fourth branch of power, the pupils of the local school gave a small concert for the guests.
The next site of the press tour was Kaarman village, near Osh, where the local women made a Harvest Festival. In fact rural women make this festival every year in order to introduce fellow villagers and guests how to prepare for winter, and also to have fun, different contests and quizzes and taste various delicacies together.
The press tour organizers definitely wished that the guests take part in the Festival, to share success and joy of harvest with rural women. All participants enjoyed the programmes and took part in the jury of the dance competition.
Finally the Harvest Festival proved to be a grand final of the press tour which was a perfect occasion for all participants, in particular for the rural women to meet each other. These women deserved the opportunity for the merry gathering and had a good reason to celebrate at the end of the harvest.
Olga Grebennikova, PR and Communication Expert, UN FAO in the Kyrgyz Republic
Elizabeth Zalkind, Public Information Officer, WFP in the Kyrgyz Republic
Umutai Dauletova, Public Information Officer, UN Women in the Kyrgyz Republic