Consolidating social and agricultural approaches with advanced nutrition
The Cash+ initiative in Kyrgyzstan demonstrated that integrated social protection and agricultural interventions can generate sustainable improvements in food security and nutrition of vulnerable rural households, enhance their agricultural productivity, and support their pathways out of poverty. The pilot intervention could help to benefit 150 households (840 people, half of which are children) in Suzak district of Jalal-Abad oblast, 22 percent of which were female-headed households and 19 percent of which were single mothers. Pilot participants were given an informed choice between productive options tailored to their unique livelihood profiles as well as to local agroecological conditions and opportunities.
The overall aim of the Cash+ pilot intervention was to increase agricultural production and income as well as diversify production towards nutrient rich vegetables and, in this way, impact food security and nutrition of household members. Taking into account that the food security and nutrition concept requires an integrated approach, the Cash+ approach seeks to bring together key sectors, such as social protection, agriculture, and nutrition, in an effort to holistically tackle key determinants of poverty and some underlying causes of malnutrition (through the design of nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems policies and programmes). For this reason, nutrition sensitive social protection policies and programmes are increasingly linked with nutrition actions to support diets and productive potential of the vulnerable populations.
The pilot took an integrated approach to addressing poverty and malnutrition. This one in Kyrgyzstan offers vulnerable families the opportunity to provide for themselves, improving their knowledge of nutrition and sharpening their agricultural skills to have a better access to diversified and healthy food. Working with local communities, initiatives like these are helping reduce food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty and keeping us on track to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 1 (Zero Poverty) and 2 (Zero Hunger) by 2030. According to the rapid assessment done on Covid-19 impact in April 2020, it was shown that many beneficiaries became more resilient to the external socio-economic and climate shocks.
The project participants were given a choice between three productive packages. The first package aimed to improve household nutrition through diet diversification and self-sufficiency in some nutritious foods. The second productive package helped households without regular access to irrigation water or with limited labour resources to diversify their diet, but does not guarantee self-sufficiency. The third productive package enabled vulnerable households to be involved in income-generating activities and to unfold their labour potential. Out of three options offered to pilot participants, the productive package aimed at income-generating activities was the most popular. Out of 150 households participating in the pilot project, it was selected by 123 families. The high demand for the productive package that supports income generation served as an evidence for the desire of vulnerable families to overcome poverty and actively participate in the economic life of the pilot region. Income diversification and their progressive growth will also have a positive impact on the nutritional status of vulnerable households. In addition to high value crop seeds, such as cauliflower, cucumber, lentils, lettuce, spinach and tomato, under the income-generating productive package project beneficiaries receive medium-sized unheated tunnel greenhouses. These greenhouses allow households to produce certain crops almost throughout the year, from early spring to late autumn, thus meeting the demand of the local community for fresh vegetables and greenery in low agricultural season. Nutrition education will also ensure that additional income leads to improved nutritional status of vulnerable households.
Cash Plus initiative provided a unique opportunity for beneficiaries (150 households (840 people, half of which are children) receiving state Monthly Benefit for Low Income Families) in engaging them in other activities, which help them to use their knowledge and skills to improve their livelihood. In accordance with the result of 74% of households improved agricultural productivity and could generate income, and the income of 27% of families exceeded the guaranteed minimum income. Over 70% of households improved their food security, while more than 90% of the pilot project participants reported improved dietary diversity and the nutrition of children and women. The results of the Cash Plus pilot have also contributed to evidence-based policymaking in the area of labour and social protection. Evidence on enhanced impact of complementary social protection and agricultural measures on livelihoods and poverty reduction outcomes derived from the Cash+ pilot informed the first draft of the National Labour and Social Protection Development Programme 2020-2023. The idea on complementing social cash transfers with productive agricultural support was also translated into the respective programmatic measures under the draft national social contract programme for 2020-2023.
Government has defined the social contract strategy and its concept, implementation modalities and monitoring and evaluation framework based on the Cash+ approach, which defined as a priority tool for poverty reduction in the National Development Strategy 2018-2040, Government Programme “Unity, Trust, Creation” 2018-2022, National Food Security and Nutrition Programme 2019-2023, and the draft Employment and Social Protection Development Programme 2020-2023.
The issue of sustainability is important for any good practices. Since the pilot was not only successfully implemented technically, it provided evidence-based results, which could serve as a model in reducing the poverty of population and improve dietary diversity and the nutrition of children and women. The Government currently is seeking funds to replicate this model in other oblasts, which definitely contribute in achievement of SDG 1 (Zero Poverty) and SDG 2 (Zero Hunger).
To understand the impact of COVID-19 health and economic crises on Cash Plus pilot beneficiaries, who obtained complementary social protection and agricultural support before the pandemics, a rapid phone monitoring exercise was conducted in April-May 2020. The rapid monitoring included randomly selected 73 households, of which 63 households were interviewed. The majority of the respondents noted that quarantine measures including restriction on movement negatively affected income and employment status of one or more members of their families, who were temporarily released from work or had to terminate their employment due to the lockdown measures. However, 87 % of interviewed households claimed they relied on social protection payments they received and agricultural knowledge, skills and inputs they received in the course of the pilot to sustain and restore livelihoods during and after the pandemics. The interviewed beneficiaries noted that complementarity between social protection measures and agricultural support made them more prepared to withstand the crisis, enhancing their resilience to shocks and preventing them from reverting to negative coping strategies, such as reducing the amount and diversity of food consumed or ceasing agricultural production, thus preserving their food and nutrition security.
SDGS & Targets
Deliverables & Timeline
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Yes, the practice implemented at sub-national level in Suzak district, Bagysh ayil okmoty, Jalal-Abad oblast.