The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Migration Agency-International Organization for Migration (IOM) marked the migration-themed World Food Day with series of information events conducted in the country. This year the World Food Day is dedicated to: “Change the future of migration: invest in food security and rural development” and is being celebrated as part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals Campaigning Month globally.
The events held in Tajikistan cities of Dushanbe on October 14 and Norak on October 17 and engaged hundreds of schoolchildren, returning migrants, migrant families and youth.
Food security through supporting returning migrants and importance of personal hygiene while in migration were brought to theatrical scenes through two performances scriptwritten and played by schoolchildren. The performances were followed by a food quiz challenging and enhancing the knowledge of the target audience on healthy diet and personal hygiene.
According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, Overall number of hungry people in the world is 815 million out of which 2.6 million live in Tajikistan. Tajikistan population, especially children are vulnerable to food insecurity and according to international estimates, the number of stunted children is high in the country. In Tajikistan, the prevalence of undernourishment has decreased from 41.5% to 30.1% during the period 2004-2016, though the number of people affected has slightly decreased from 2.8 to 2.6 million. The families are economically highly dependent on remittances sent by Tajik migrant workers, which make up a substantial part of the country’s annual GDP (some years up to 50%).
A quarter of the GDP of the country is made up from the agriculture sector, which employs up to 75% of total employment internally. An exhibition of locally produced vegetables conduced during the events marking the World Food Day aimed to promote easily accessible local production for preparing nutritious meals. By cooking nutritious meals from local products high school students competed for the Best Meal Award. Other events included poster contest illusatrating linkage between migration and food security and distribution of thematic information materials in crowded places around the cities.
Dragan Aleksoski, IOM Tajikistan Chief of Mission, says: “The World Food Day is here to remind us that while in the developed world, food is linked to abundance and diversity, for many, access to food is still a constant battle. Food insecurity is too often a motive for migration as a mechanism to seek out income-generating opportunities. IOM will continue to work with FAO, WFP, other UN agencies and partners to ensure that people migrate as a matter of choice rather than by necessity. Consequently, we strongly commit to combating factors that lead to forced displacement, such as food insecurity.
In Tajikistan, FAO, WFP and IOM have a unique role in managing internal migration, in view of their experience in supporting the creation of better conditions and resilient livelihoods in rural areas. Together with their partners they commit to further expand their work towards strengthening the positive contribution that migrants and refugees are bringing for poverty reduction, food security and nutrition, and resilience of rural households.
The involving agencies support the national plan for food security and nutrition in the country and try to ensure that local communities, in particular most vulnerable and food insecure can meet their needs.