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Developing capacity for strengthening food security and nutrition

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Responding to country-specific challenges, the “Developing Capacity for Strengthening Food Security and Nutrition in Selected Countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia” project is implementing six distinct pilots in the Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, with the aim to operationalize the linkages between agriculture, food security, nutrition and social protection.

In each project country, a different “School Food and Nutrition Program linked to the Agricultural Sector” pilot is being implemented to enhance local diet quality and promote broader sustainable agricultural development. In Armenia, this involves the establishment of school gardens in three schools, and in Tajikistan, 15 school gardens and five community gardens are being set up. Kyrgyzstan will benefit from the implementation of a sustainable centralized model for the supply of agricultural products; a total of 30 schools and other social institutions will be supported by the services of this Logistics Center.  

Furthermore, the project is testing two “Strengthening Food Systems with Nutrition Sensitive Social Protection” models, which provide beneficiaries with additional livelihood support for improved nutrition and rural development outcomes. The “CASH+” approach being implemented in Armenia and the “Productive Social contract/CASH+” model being tested in Kyrgyzstan will link the countries’ national social protection programmes that support households with children to small-scale nutrition-sensitive agricultural innovations, training and extension services, and nutrition education. The pilot in Kyrgyzstan will additionally promote the regularity of transfers to social protection beneficiaries, and include agricultural input support and assistance in the marketing of agricultural produce.

In Tajikistan, one of the world’s top remittance-receiving countries, the project is implementing the “Promoting Inclusive Economic Growth through Matching Grants”  pilot, which seek to leverage the remittances of migrant workers by investing them in the development of family farming.  Participants themselves invest 50% of the funds needed for a small-scale agricultural project and obtain the remaining 50% from project funds, while additionally benefitting from professional FAO guidance.

By providing an evidence base on the effectiveness of an integrated approach to rural development, these six models will help shape and improve key policy and programming processes in the project countries. This relates to the project’s broader effort of promoting an enabling environment for fostering food security and nutrition by identifying gaps and opportunities for cross-sector action and synergies in the field of food security, nutrition, social protection, and sustainable agriculture. The project’s efforts regarding coordination and advocacy are crucial to increasing interministerial support and collaboration with other partners for the actual implementation of the models, their incorporation of the models into policies and programmes, and eventually for the development of a Comprehensive Program on Food Security, Nutrition and Social Protection.