Formative research on infant and young child feeding and maternal nutrition in Tajikistan

Final Report 2016

mother holding her baby boy
UNICEF Tajikistan


Tajikistan is a mountainous, primarily rural country of approximately 8 million residents in Central Asia. Despite economic growth since achieving independence twenty five years ago, Tajikistan continues to be the poorest nation in the CIS region.

Malnutrition in Tajikistan remains a significant public health problem. The first Demographic Health Survey in Tajikistan, conducted in 2012, found that 2 per of children under 5 years old are stunted, due to chronic malnutrition, 10 per cent  are wasted, a sign of acute malnutrition, and 12per cent are underweight. Micronutrient deficiency is widespread, with the prevalence of anaemia and iodine deficiency among children 6-59 months being 28.8 per cent and 55 per cent  respectively, and anaemia prevalence among
women of reproductive age being 24.2 per cent. Although the vast majority of children are offered breast feeding at birth, only 34 percent of infants below 6 months old receive exclusive breastfeeding, only 49 per cent of the children are introduced to complementary foods at an appropriate age, and only 20 per cent of children 6-23 months receive the optimal infant and young child feeding (IYCF) in terms of food diversity and meal frequency.

As nutrition at the population level is a complex phenomenon impacted by many factors, the government of Tajikistan is working across all sectors, in concert with development partners involved in child health and nutrition programs, to plan strategic interventions at multiple levels. In order to intervene effectively across the diverse geographic settings, ethnic and cultural groups, and unique contexts in the country, formative research was essential, to understand the drivers behind the concerning nutrition statistics. UNICEF Tajikistan, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, engaged Drexel University as a consultant, to design and conduct formative research on IYCF practices in Tajikistan. 

a girl with fruits in hands
Drexel University
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