What's happening in Kyrgyzstan?
In June 2010, Osh, Kyrgyzstan's second city which is located in the south of the country, saw a wave of violence between different ethnic groups, including Uzbeks and Kyrgyz. More than 400 people lost their lives, up to 3,500 were injured and many homes and businesses were destroyed
The unrest has had a severe impact on the most vulnerable in society, including older people and those they support. Many lost their homes and belongings, including pension books and identity papers. Since the violence, food has been scarce and older people's livelihoods, such as small scale farming, have been badly affected.
Many of the older people affected in Osh care for and support their grandchildren because their adult children have migrated overseas in search of employment.
What are we doing to help?
Together with local partners and the Kyrgyz social services department, we have conducted several surveys and assessments. This has helped us identify the most pressing needs of affected older people and their families.
As a result, we have:
- distributed wellbeing kits to 2,500 vulnerable older women and men in Osh city. The kit contains towels, soap, shampoo, combs, crockery and cutlery sets, toilet paper, hand wipes, toothpaste and brush, antiseptics and tea.
- distributed cash envelopes of 1,000 som (US$20) to 940 individuals as part of a project funded by Refugees International Japan.
- distributed kitchen sets and food to 500 households through local community organisation Luch Lotosa (with funding from UNHCR). This includes 4,000 three litre jars of preserved fruit and vegetables and 3,000 one litre jars of honey with nuts, raspberry jam, plum jam and pickled vegetables.
- distributed 1,000 tonnes of coal to 1,000 older people and households with the community fund Mehr Shavkat (with funding from Mercy Corps and USAID/OFDA).
- distributed 5,000 three litre jars, 1,000 machines to seal bottles (needed for jam making) and 1,000 kitchen sets (tea pot, six tea cups and six soup bowls) to 1,000 older people and their families.
- set up 11 older people's groups in Osh city and Kara Suu region and organised community activities and intergenerational events.
The difference we've made
So far, we have:
- helped improve older people's food security over the harsh winter by arranging activities to preserve food. Not only do these activities provide a secure source of food, they also strengthen bonds between people as they involve the whole community.
- supported older people's role as mediators in their own communities and strengthened the cohesion between ethnicities and generations.
- improved the capacity of 90 service providers in Osh and Jalal-Abad to better meet the needs of vulnerable older people and their families in areas such as social protection, psychosocial rehabilitation and document restoration, which is essential to help older people access their pensions.
In the next few months, we will continue to work with our partners in three key areas:
- Community mobilisation: We will support good relationships between ethnic groups by establishing older people's groups, and organising training and intergenerational activities.
- Social support: We will improve older people's financial security through cash transfer distributions and legal support to replace identity documents.
- Age awareness: We will raise awareness in local communities of the issues older people face in emergencies through the media, such as the "Echo Osha" newspaper, "Radio-Almaz" and "OshTV".