High food prices contributing to malnutrition in Tajikistan

An analysis of the data from household surveys in rural Tajikistan in July 2011 shows that 29.1% of children are stunted and 12.5% are wasted. Malnutrition among children was found to be more pronounced than in previous assessment rounds. The data were collected through the country’s Food Security Monitoring System. WHO/Europe is assisting Tajikistan to develop a national action plan on nutrition.

An assessment of practices in feeding children aged 0–24 months showed that almost all under 6 months (98.6%) received breast-milk (although not confirmed to be exclusively breastfed) and around 50% of children aged 12–23 months received breast-milk the day before assessment. Breastfeeding was stopped for 47% of children after 12 months. The recommended introduction of semi-solid foods after 6 months took place for 40% of children aged 6–8 months.

Dietary diversity was very low in children aged 6–11 months: at the same level as in summer 2010. During the week before the assessment, children consumed only three food groups, and the average consumption of meat, eggs or legumes was very low for all age groups.

An assessment of the nutritional status of women showed a significant increase in the percentage of underweight women (from 7.7% in August 2010 to 11.8% in July 2011), as in a similar situation in 2006. Dietary diversity among women ranged from poor to borderline.

Conclusions drawn from the assessment include the following.

  • A child’s diet and nutritional status are linked to the food consumption of the whole household, and the mother’s level of education.
  • The high prevalence of diarrhoea among children is linked to loss of body mass.
  • High food prices have forced half of households to rely on less preferred and less expensive food, or to limit the portion size at meals.

National nutrition action plan

To help the country address malnutrition and the emerging challenge of diet-related noncommunicable diseases (including diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases), WHO/Europe is providing technical assistance in developing a national action plan on nutrition. A mission to the country ended last week, after conducting a series of consultations and discussions with different sectors and partners, and a workshop to ensure that equity was integrated into the plan from the start.

Food Security Monitoring System (FSMS) in Tajikistan

FSMS provides a seasonal snapshot of food insecurity in rural Tajikistan by analysing data from over 600 households and 400 individuals across 19 livelihoods and geographical zones every quarter.