Children in Tajikistan, growing strong and healthy

As children begin their journey with the World Food Programme (WFP) to recover from malnutrition, their mothers learn life-long nutrition and hygiene habits.

Dilbar Ruzadorova
Sep 18, 2018 · 3 min read

Dilorom* lives in the small town of Uzun in southwestern Tajikistan. Uzun, a mountainous area with limited arable land, does not offer much to its residents, forcing many to search for work opportunities abroad. Dilorom doesn’t remember her father well since she was only six months old when he had to leave the family to find a job. Left alone, Dilorom and her mother moved to live with Dilorom’s grandmother, four aunts and their children.

While she liked to play with her older brother, she did not seem to be as active or cheerful as other children her age due to the severe diarrhea she was diagnosed with in late December 2017.

“My daughter’s health was getting worse by the day, so I decided to take her to the nearest clinic just to find out that she was severely underweight. Luckily for us, she was given ‘special food’ for children like her.”

Dilorom was malnourished but the specialized food enriched with vitamins and minerals she received from WFP helped her become healthy again. Photo: WFP/ Dilbar Ruzadorova

Dilorom was found to be too thin for her height, indicating recent malnutrition. Fortunately, WFP implements a programme to prevent and treat malnutrition in Uzun. Dilorom was enrolled in the USAID-funded program in January 2018. For eight weeks, she received specialized food enriched with vitamins and minerals to help her gain weight and restore her health.

At the same time, her mother received health and hygiene information and advice from the health center’s staff to help improve her children’s overall nutrition and health.

“My daughter’s illness taught me to be more cautious about the food we consume, personal hygiene and the importance of a well-balanced diet and healthy eating habits for my children,” Dilorom’s mother says.

One year and eight months old now, Dilorom has fully recovered. She continues to receive regular health monitoring.

Dilorom enjoying the company of her cousins and beloved grandmother. Photo: WFP/Dilbar Ruzadorova

WFP’s Prevention and Treatment of Moderate Acute Malnutrition Project is being implemented by the United Nations World Food Programme with the financial support of USAID in Balkhi, Shahrituz, Kulob, Dusti districts of Khatlon region and Ayni district of Sughd region. The project provides supplementary food for children aged 6–59 months to treat moderate acute malnutrition. The project will run from 2017 to 2021.

Although nutrition in southwestern Tajikistan has improved in the last five years, the number of children affected by wasting remains high in the districts targeted by the project. Inappropriate feeding practices and use of unclean water for drinking are thought to be among the main causes.

Despite being a lower-middle income country, Tajikistan remains the poorest in Central Asia, and remittances from labor migration accounts for approximately 26.9 percent of Tajikistan’s of its gross domestic product.

*Names were changed upon the parent’s request.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store