Trends in the May 2016 round of FSMS indicate that the food security situation has deteriorated in Tajikistan compared to the findings of the last FSMS round (Dec 2015); food insecure households have increased of 5% compared to round 16 (Dec 2015) and of 6% compared to round 15 (April 2015).
Household food consumption, measured through the Food Consumption Score (FCS), improved in May 2016 compared to the last Dec 2015 round, reflecting the expected seasonal trend.
Economic contraction in the Russian Federation and the depreciation of Russian rouble have caused remittance reduction in Tajikistan, possibly influencing the food security status of the household relying on remittances.
The percentage of the households reporting the experience of high food price and natural shocks increased in the first half of 2016.
The percentage of the households that adopted coping strategies to manage their food needs had gone downward in trend over the past few years, but it bounced up in the first half of 2016.
Context and Recent Developments
Tajikistan is a landlocked, lower-middle income, food deficit country with a population of approximately eight million, three quarters of whom live in rural areas. The mountainous landscape confines the arable area to just seven percent of the country’s surface and poses enormous challenges to food security during the winter period. It is the poorest in the Commonwealth of Independent States, with 47 percent of the population living on less than USD 1.33 a day and 17 percent subsisting on less than USD 0.85 a day. Tajikistan ranks 129 out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index.
The majority of the population spends between 70-80 percent of their income on food yet around one fifth of the population is affected by food insecurity. According to findings of the 2015 Global Hunger Index (GHI) and FAO, Tajikistan tops malnutrition among the former Soviet republics and 33.2 percent of Tajikistan’s population is suffering from undernourishment. Malnutrition remains an issue in Tajikistan.
Inflation rate during January to June 2016 period is reported at 5.5 percent (National Bank of Tajikistan, June 2016) and annual GDP growth is reported at 4.2 percent (World Bank, 2015). Agriculture sector comprises 20 percent of the GDP and employs to 53 percent of the population. Furthermore, imports of goods and services make up 68.3 percent of the GDP (World Bank, 2015).
From January to June 2016, more than 308,600 labour migrants have reportedly left to work in the Russian Federation (over 99 percent of the total migrants), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. During the same period, 106,400 labour migrants have returned back to Tajikistan. Remittances, predominantly from migrants working in Russia, account for approximately 43 percent of Tajikistan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The recent reduction in volume and frequency of remittances, due to reduced migration, is negatively impacting household food security, whereby 80 percent of remittances are used by Tajik households to purchase food. The reduction in migration is due to legislative changes in the Russian Federation that introduced strict regulations for foreign migrants, because of the on-going economic crisis.