Developing capacity for strengthening food security and nutrition

Social protection – a driver of change for poor and vulnerable households in rural Kyrgyzstan

23 October 2019 | Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan – In Bishkek, a national seminar was held on a pressing topic - the development of social protection in the rural areas of the Kyrgyz Republic. This seminar was not only an opportunity to sum up the evaluation of the joint pilot project of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and FAO “Productive Social Contract / Cash Plus”, but also provided a multilateral platform to discuss the role of social protection in reducing poverty, improving food security and nutrition, and fostering adaptation to climate change.

Government agencies, development partners, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector discussed the new roles that social protection can take on in rural areas. These include the diversification of livelihoods, supporting food security and nutrition, building resilience, advancing the adaptation to climate change, as well as other innovative approaches to the social protection of the rural population through coordinated policies and programs.

According to Dinara Rakhmanova, Deputy Representative of  FAO in the Kyrgyz Republic, despite the significant progress made by Kyrgyzstan in reducing poverty and improving food security and nutrition, thousands of rural households still live below the poverty line, while remaining vulnerable to various risks and disasters. “Their productivity and incomes are falling, which accordingly affects their spending, creating an endless cycle of poverty and vulnerability for them and their children, as well as hindering agricultural development and wider economic growth,” she added.

Available evidence suggests that, together, social protection and agriculture can effectively reduce rural poverty and malnutrition, as well as stimulate economic growth at both local and national levels, through job creation and decent employment in the rural areas. In fact, agriculture and social protection can not only complement but also mutually reinforce each other accelerating progress toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

As a result of the seminar, a vision on the need for an intersectoral, but differentiated approach to social protection of the rural population was developed, and recommendations regarding the further implementation of the social contract program based on the “Cash Plus” approach were made.

The pilot project "Productive Social Contract / Cash Plus" was implemented with the financial support of the Russian Federation in the framework of the project “Developing capacity for strengthening food security and nutrition in selected countries of Caucasus and Central Asia”.