Better nutrition for women and young children in rural Tajikistan

Project description

Title: Mother Infant Child Nutrition (MICN) Project
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Tajikistan
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Population (MoHSPP)
Overall term: 2019 to 2022



Almost one-third of the population of Tajikistan suffers from undernourishment or malnutrition. In 2017, only 12 per cent of the rural population was categorised as food-secure. This makes Tajikistan the least food-secure country in Central Asia, ranking 96th out of 119 countries in the 2017 Global Hunger Index. The basic prerequisites of food security, such as access to sufficient and nutritious food, clean drinking water, adequate health care and education, are not guaranteed. This means that the right to adequate food and the highest attainable level of health is not guaranteed for a large proportion of the population in Tajikistan.

Women of childbearing age, infants and young children in particular are severely affected by undernourishment and malnutrition. The mortality rate among children under five years of age continues to be high, at 43 out of every 1,000 live births. Around one-third of deaths are due to undernourishment and malnutrition. More than 20 per cent of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition and exhibit signs of physical and cognitive impairments.


The nutritional status of women of childbearing age, infants and young children in the region of Khatlon has been improved.

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Qualified volunteers and primary health care (PCH) workers provide advice particularly to women of childbearing age to encourage them to change their dietary habits and, consequently, their own nutritional status and that of their children. The project includes mothers-in-law and heads of households in order to firmly establish the sought-after changes to family behaviour. By qualifying trainers for educational purposes, nutrition is set to become an established part of the training programme for health care workers.

With the help of a communication strategy – brochures and radio programmes, for instance – that is tailored to the target group, the project creates awareness among women of childbearing age and child caregivers of the importance of a healthy diet.


The Water, Hygiene and Sanitation concept for babies (BabyWASH) is implemented in the project area. The concept, an interface between hygiene and nutrition, focuses on the first 1,000 days of life, which are crucial for a child’s development. By creating a clean environment and by introducing food-hygiene practices in the preparation of food for infants and small children, BabyWASH ensures that diarrhoea is prevented to the greatest extent possible and that nutritional intake is improved.

The project also supports the Scaling Up Nutrition initiative in Tajikistan. Under the initiative, government and private sector actors join forces to develop more realistic and coherent approaches that improve food security and are implemented in a coordinated manner.


  • A ten-part food module has been developed and integrated into the training curricula for doctors and nurses.
  • Nutrition has been added to the curricula for medical studies and advanced training for doctors.
  • 150 nurses in primary health care have been trained in measuring haemoglobin in the blood, issuing appropriate prescriptions, calculating the correct dosage and administering iron supplements.
  • 110 Community Nutrition Volunteers (CNVs) have been trained in nutrition counselling and have counselled 5,500 households on nutrition and hygiene issues.
  • The CNVs have conducted 2,600 training courses to change old behavioural patterns towards more balanced dietary behaviour.
  • 140 nurses working in PHC centres have conducted training courses on a more balanced diet in selected villages of the project area.
  • Communication strategies have been drawn up under the project aimed at changing the dietary behaviour of women of childbearing age.
  • 30 PHC centres have been equipped with computers. In addition, 20 employees in the PHC centres took part in a computer course to pass on their newly acquired knowledge as multipliers.
  • A handbook on nutrition was developed for the medical staff, which is supplemented by a ten-part e-learning module. This is available both online and offline for self-study

Last updated: February 2021