Water Access in Tajikistan
Despite having the greatest natural supply of freshwater sources across the region, water access in Tajikistan is an ongoing challenge. Only 55% of the country’s residents have access to this human right that has turned into a luxury. The country already faces several shortcomings and obstacles across the rural areas. Tajikistan has progressed in the past decade in reconfiguring its water laws and existing supply systems. Although it increased access to improved water sources from 75% to more than 84%, the critical issues of water security and continuous supply still remain. The work that has occurred during the past decade has paved a way for further progress. More work is necessary to address the issue of water access at its core.

The Roots of The Issue of Water Access

According to the research that the World Bank conducted, obstructions to water access in Tajikistan are likely due to poor infrastructure. Much of the piping was built throughout the 1970s and 1980s and commissioned by the Soviet Union. Since the fall of the USSR in 1991, these facilities have seen little to no maintenance. According to research conducted by Marufjon Abdujabborov in 2020, a specialist in analysis in Tajikistan’s internal office, only 68% of water infrastructure in cities was in working order, and across rural areas that figure dropped to 40%.

Aside from the effects of consuming unsanitary water on internal organs, the inadequacies of water access in Tajikistan also have a strong bearing on hygiene facilities, instilling harsh inequalities across the country. For example, only 1.7% of households in rural areas have access to a flush toilet, compared to 60% across urban areas. The World Bank reported that “One in four households in Tajikistan does not have access to sufficient quantities of water when needed. Service is interrupted for long periods because of breakdowns in water supply infrastructure.” Poor access to water systems forces many in the affected areas to gather water from neighboring provinces and villages. Doing so has worsened tensions amongst rural communities and increased border disputes. Furthermore, the responsibility of gathering water typically falls on women and children of the household. This impedes children’s education and causes detrimental effects on their health.

A Project to Solve the Water Crisis

Tajikistan Water Supply and Sanitation Investment Project, which was introduced in 2021, outlines strategic initiatives for expanding safe and affordable water supply and sanitation across the country. On July 2022, the International Development Association (IDA) grant of $45 million was approved, thereby securing funding for the project. The proposal focuses on following a series of initiatives targeting strongly affected areas, starting with the region of Khatlon. Projected beneficiaries of this operation amount to 250,000 residents across the region. There are other 24 similar projects that the World Bank has financed across Tajikistan.

Additional investment by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will target vulnerable areas of the Dushanbe region. Reconfiguration of the regional water systems, including sanitation and sewage collection, are the overarching aims of the aforementioned programs. Further development initiatives under the Water Supply and Sanitation Investment Project can draw inspiration and models of sustainable operation that are developed by the current investments.

Women-led Solutions Through Associations

In 2012, the Tajik government introduced local “water users associations” in response to the challenges associated with water access in Tajikistan. It commissions private farms to manage the delivery of water across their respective regions and promotes the management of irrigation systems and water supplies. The struggle has seen resourceful individuals rise to the challenges and take action through the water users’ associations. Uguloy Abdullaeva, a local dairy farmer in Dushanbe, was elected as the acting head of her association. Through her fundraising efforts, she received $420,000 from the American embassy to fund the reformation of the project.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) offered two years of training in water management to Uguloy. As a result, she gained a comprehensive understanding of water management and effectively invested in a piece of land, an excavator, new pipes and water locks for the region. The knowledge she learned from the training programs has spread to farmers within her association. Since then, farmers have become more responsible with their farms and there are fewer issues with water.

Further funding for development assistance is necessary to extend operations and ensure access to clean water for those that need it. The inspiring work of associations and individuals is effectively handling investments and improving water access across their districts. It has changed the lives of thousands in vulnerable areas. Most importantly, it serves as a strong example for the youth and citizens to build a better Tajikistan.

– Bojan Ivancic
Photo: Flickr

polio vaccination in Tajikistan
In recent years, vaccine misinformation has arisen rapidly, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic; this has become a serious health concern. Polio vaccination in Tajikistan was successful for decades, but the country experienced a sudden outbreak in 2021. With the help of UNICEF, the country immediately responded to the crisis and introduced mass polio vaccination in Tajikistan which helped approximately 1.4 million children in the country. The community health centers and healthcare workers of the country played a major role in the success of this vaccination program. Their efforts provide a great model on how to combat vaccine misinformation through community and education.

Polio in Tajikistan

Polio, also referred to as poliomyelitis, typically impacts children under 5, and can spread either through people or contaminated water supplies. Since 1988, cases of polio globally have been reduced by 99.8% and the only countries that are still endemic are Pakistan and Afghanistan. Although there is no cure for the disease, effective vaccines for polio exist and are the primary way of fighting it.

Tajikistan, a country that had been free of polio for decades and was certified polio-free by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2020, experienced a sudden emergence of the disease in 2021. That year, 34 children contracted polio and became paralyzed, while 26 more tested positive without developing paralysis. For diseases like polio, even one case could be an outbreak and thus, necessitates an immediate response. The type of polio detected in Tajikistan was the vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2).

Organized Response to the Crisis

Response to the polio outbreak was swift and effective. UNICEF coordinated with the Tajikistan government and provided 4.6 million doses of an oral polio vaccine and a mass immunization program began quickly. The Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Population increased poliovirus surveillance, conducted a thorough risk assessment regarding the scale of outbreak and kind of vaccine response required and was quick in verifying the preparedness of the immunization program.

The first wave of polio vaccination in Tajikistan began in February 2021, with a second round beginning a few months later in June and lasting until September 2021. With both waves, an extensive program of social mobilization began to reach groups most at risk of infection such as internal migrants and unregistered children, according to WHO.

Community health centers played a critical role in the success of the immunization program by providing the necessary vaccine education to the population. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the centers thrived and helped to foster an organized response to the health crises.

Learning from Tajikistan

Since the immunization program began, 1.4 million children got their vaccine against polio, and Tajikistan once again became a polio-free zone in April 2022 according to WHO. Healthcare workers and community health centers played integral roles in the success of the immunization program by reaching the most vulnerable segments of the Tajik population. Moreover, the government of Tajikistan did its part by responding to the polio crisis in a timely manner. Tajikistan’s eradication of polio is an illustrious example of how governments and global organizations can work together to end polio.

– Umaima Munir
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Tajikistan
The U.N. Trafficking Protocol defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.” Human trafficking in Tajikistan is a pertinent issue — The U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report of 2021 lists Tajikistan as a Tier 2 country, joining the ranks of Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone and Panama.

Tajikistan’s TIP Ranking

A Tier 2 ranking means “Tajikistan does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but it is making significant efforts to do so.”

The TIP 2021 report highlights that instances of human trafficking in Tajikistan itself are less common. Rather, traffickers exploit Tajikastini people who have migrated to other countries for financial reasons. In particular, “Labor traffickers exploit Tajikistani men and women in agriculture and construction primarily in Russia, UAE, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia, as well as in other neighboring Central Asian countries, Turkey and Afghanistan,” the report said.

Additionally, women who lost their husbands to armed conflict and are struggling for money are more vulnerable to “coercive local marriages” containing elements of forced labor or sex trafficking. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic led to widespread job losses and income cuts, exacerbating the financial stability of Tajikistani families and making them more vulnerable to the lure of traffickers.

In the 2021 report, Tajikistani “authorities identified 24 trafficking victims during the reporting period, compared with 53 in 2019.” However, authorities did not supply “information on victims’ nationalities, genders, ages, locations or types of exploitation.”

In terms of prevention efforts, while the government ran a 24-hour trafficking hotline for victims, the government did not note the number of phone calls that led to trafficking victim identifications.

In previous years, the police force has used a registry of names of sexual minorities to blackmail these individuals into “sex trafficking and forced informant roles.” While same-sex relationships are legal in Tajikistan, sexual minorities face discrimination and stigma from both the authorities and the public. Tajikistan created an “official list” of LGBTQI+ citizens in 2017.

The TIP report says that the government of Tajikistan has achieved “a significant increase in trafficking convictions” as well as provided “shelter to more victims than the previous year.” However, the report also highlights “allegations of possible official complicity in some localities” but Tajikistan did not report any investigations or arrests regarding the matter.

Creating Change

The report recommends creating “standard operating procedures for identifying trafficking victims and referring them to care.” It also encourages the government of Tajikistan to focus on vulnerable groups at risk of trafficking such as “LGBTQI+ individuals [and]foreign and returned Tajikistani migrant workers,” among others.

U.N. human rights expert Siobhán Mullally recommended that the Tajikistan government increase protections for refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Mullally also says the nation must address the stigma and discrimination that female sex trafficking victims face when seeking help.

The government should also provide financial support to female-headed households and female informal workers as these groups are more susceptible to trafficking due to their generally impoverished economic circumstances.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) plays an important role in combating human trafficking in Tajikistan. In 2019, one day before World Anti-Trafficking Day (July 30), the IOM held a national youth debate tournament centering around human trafficking. This aims to raise awareness of human trafficking in Tajikistan. In 2019, the IOM also gave “direct assistance” to 17 human trafficking victims in Tajikistan and “prevented eight other cases of potential trafficking.”

While Tajikistan is progressing in the right direction in terms of efforts to reduce human trafficking, the government must make more concerted efforts to provide greater support to the most vulnerable groups.

– Priya Maiti
Photo: Flickr

Impact of COVID-19 in Tajikistan Tajikistan is a Central Asian country landlocked between Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, China and Uzbekistan. It is among the most impoverished countries in the world, with 26.3% of its population living below the poverty line in 2019. This high poverty rate persists as a consequence of modern political instability and a civil war that erupted after its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Since the Tajikistani Civil War, the national poverty rate has shrunk as the country recovered, but the impact of COVID-19 in Tajikistan has added to the financial stressors that many citizens face.

5 Facts About the Impact of COVID-19 in Tajikistan

  1. The Numbers: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Tajikistan reported 17,493 COVID-19 cases from Jan. 3, 2020, to Jan. 21, 2022. From Jan. 18, 2021, to June 21, 2021, there were no reports of new cases in the nation. On Jan. 26, 2021, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon claimed that the country was “without COVID-19” in an address to parliament, asserting that the nation noted “no new cases” in the month of January. However, the Ministry of Health did in fact report new cases in January, a fact backed up by WHO data. The disease continued to spread for a few months longer, with the last new cases occurring on Sept. 13, 2021. Out of all the nation’s total confirmed cases, Tajikistan notes 125 deaths.
  2. Vaccines: In July 2021, Tajikistan made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all citizens of at least 18 years old. As of Jan. 2, 2022, Tajikistan has administered a total of 6.8 million doses, allowing for the full vaccination of roughly 3 million citizens, equating to 31.27% of Tajikistan’s overall population. In order to increase its overall vaccination rate, authorities aim “to expand their communication activities to address vaccine hesitancy and misinformation” related to the COVID-19 vaccine with the support of the World Bank.
  3. Remittances: The influx of remittances to Tajikistan fell at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many citizens choose to leave the country to earn an income as migrant workers and send money back to their family members back in Tajikistan. In fact, “Tajikistan is one of the most remittance-dependent countries in the world,” with this form of monetary exchange accounting for around 28% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018. However, the value of remittances fell in the wake of COVID-19 to 26% in 2020. Economic crises and travel restrictions led to fewer remittances, especially due to the stringent regulations in Russia and other nearby countries where Tajikistani migrants often seek work. As a result, during the first half of 2020, remittances shrunk by close to 15% ($195 million) in comparison to the first half of 2019. In conjuncture with the other impacts of COVID-19 in Tajikistan, like the rising prices of agricultural goods, this fall in household income served to exacerbate poverty and heighten food insecurity in Tajikistan, with 33% of households reporting “reduced food consumption” as of August 2021.
  4. U.S. Foreign Aid: Responding to the negative effects of the pandemic, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supplied significant amounts of aid to Tajikistan, including “1.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine” in July 2021 and “325,260 doses of the Pfizer vaccine” in September 2021. In addition, USAID efforts include significant assistance to bolster Tajikistan’s health care systems and the capacity of its medical labs, public health outreach programs and community engagement. By March 2021, USAID had provided more than $10 million in aid to strengthen the country’s health care system and mitigate the financial impacts of COVID-19 in Tajikistan. Furthermore, as COVID-19 “disrupted import/export transport,” USAID has “launched an online freight portal” to help traders communicate and also created “a hotline to help traders and exporters locate the latest information about new import and transit procedures.”
  5. International Aid: Tajikistan also received support from other countries and international organizations. On Dec. 22, 2021, the World Bank approved a grant adding $25 million to the Tajikistan Emergency COVID-19 Project. The money will go to necessary medical resources, such as safety boxes, personal protective equipment, COVID-19 tests, vaccine cards and other supplies. The grant will also cover the cost of vaccine distribution and official communication efforts to combat medical misinformation.

Looking Forward

Although the impact of COVID-19 in Tajikistan will likely continue to affect the nation’s economy, the country has not noted any new COVID-19 cases since 2021. Currently, COVID-19 cases remain under control despite concerns over the newly emerging Omicron variant. International organizations are continuing their efforts to improve Tajikistan’s economic resilience and strengthen its health sector. As a result of diminishing cases and international assistance, experts predict that the economy will continue to grow throughout 2022 despite ongoing challenges.

– Lauren Sung
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Electricity Shortages in Tajikistan
Seasonal electricity shortages in Tajikistan are a common occurrence. This winter will be no different, as the government has drafted a plan for winter electricity rationing and the rural parts of the country have undergone electricity rationing since October 2021. These areas only have power from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. This means during normal operating hours, businesses and public facilities are without electricity.

According to Radio Liberty, hospitals are not exempt from rationing either. Hospitals have to rely on diesel-powered generators due to not having access to electricity. However, not every hospital in Tajikistan has or can afford such generators, leaving staff and patients in the dark and medical equipment inoperable. Depending on the severity of the shortage, even facilities in the country’s capital, Dushanbe, could experience a loss of electricity, as it has in the past.

The Reason for Electricity Shortages in Tajikistan

The simplest explanation for why Tajikistan undergoes seasonal electricity shortages is the country does not have a great enough supply of energy to meet demand all year round. A major reason for this gap in supply and demand is Tajikistan relies heavily on hydroelectricity.

Hydropower is the country’s largest energy source. In 2019, Tajikistan had a hydropower supply of 69,012 terajoules, compared to its coal supply of 50,377 TJ. Its oil supply was 44,533 TJ and its natural gas supply of 8,122 TJ.

The problem is hydroelectricity accounts for 98% of Tajikistan’s electricity consumption, according to the Access to Green Finance Project. However, it is also a form of energy that fluctuates based on factors like a river’s volume or freezing. The volume of Tajikistan’s rivers like the river Vakhsh continues to decrease yearly in tandem with a decrease in rainfall. Energy demand rises in the colder months. Therefore, the country finds itself without enough electricity.

Sometimes, the electricity shortages end up not lasting for the winter, but for the entire year. Substituting hydroelectricity with different energy sources is difficult because the country needs to use coal and imported oil for purposes other than electricity. Moreover, Tajikistan exports a significant portion of its energy to countries like Afghanistan, according to the Access to Green Finance Project.

Solutions to Electricity Shortages in Tajikistan

The Rogun hydropower plant became partially operational in 2018. According to Radio Liberty, many people in Tajikistan believed the electricity shortages would end with this. Since the rationing will almost certainly continue into 2022, the plant becoming partially operational was evidently not enough to meet the country’s needs. However, hope exists that the shortages will come to an end.

After the Rogun plant has become fully operational, it will have an electricity production capacity of 3,600 megawatts. For reference, Hoover Dam’s capacity is 2,080 MW. This means Tajikistan should not only have enough electricity to consistently meet its needs, but it might also be able to export more energy to other countries. This would be greatly beneficial to the developing nation’s economy. Regardless, the Rogun plant is a much-needed development in Tajikistan’s energy sector since the old Soviet plants are becoming less economical.

For Now, Electricity Shortages in Tajikistan Continue

Enduring electricity rationing, the prices of coal, natural gas and firewood are high. The people of Tajikistan will experience immense hardship this winter. It will be up to the government and NGOs to support them through difficult times.

However, once the Rogun plant is fully operational, Tajikistan’s electricity shortages may be a thing of the past. People could have consistent access to electricity all year, every year.

– Nate Ritchie
Photo: Flickr


Tajikistan is a landlocked country within Central Asia and the poorest Central Asian country to emerge from the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 2019, Tajikistan had a national poverty rate of more than 26% and an extreme poverty rate of 11%. To reduce poverty at home, young Tajik men in particular travel abroad to countries such as Russia to work and send their earnings home to their families. In 30%-40% of households in Tajikistan, at least one member works abroad and sends funds home. As a result, the country’s economy has become heavily dependent on the money its migrant workers bring in. Remittances to Tajikistan in 2017 were equivalent to nearly 35% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Now, with the spread of COVID-19, the economy is struggling to recover from restricted travel abroad.

Remittances in the Short Term

Remittances to Tajikistan are a major source of revenue for the country. Yet, they have both positive and negative economic implications. Remittances are often beneficial in the short term as a lifeline to the poor. They essentially provide the means by which the poor can purchase basic goods and services to lift themselves out of poverty. Moreover, more than 80% of remittances to Tajikistan go toward essentials like food, clothing and shelter. Still, the lack of economic opportunity at home leaves little room for the Tajik people, particularly those in rural areas, to thrive independently.

Remittances in the Long Term

Economic dependence on remittances to Tajikistan opens up the country to risk in the long term. Tajikistan’s economy so heavily intertwines with Russia’s that it leaves itself at the mercy and political goodwill of Russia. Additionally, the dependency also exposes Tajikistan’s economy to external shocks from Russia’s economy. While Russia may recover from these shocks, Tajikistan itself may not. Furthermore, Tajikistan’s dependence on remittances reduces the incentive for the Tajik government to create programs that help develop the country’s own domestic economy.

Remittances in the Pandemic

During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian imposed lockdown caused the Tajik economy to suffer. Now, Tajikistan is slowly trying to recover from those economic damages. Russia’s lockdown meant that Tajik laborers in Russia suffered a decrease in work opportunities and thus, a fall in income. In addition, it also restricted Tajik migrants from traveling to Russia to work and earn the money they need to support their families. In the spring of 2020, President Emomali sought financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) because remittances to Tajikistan from Russia declined by 50%.

The faltering economy hit the poor in Tajikistan especially hard. The World Bank has reported that around 40% of Tajikistan’s population reduced the consumption of food during the peak of the pandemic and that the fall in the value of remittances could push the poverty rate even higher. However, the international community and the Tajik government are working to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the state of migrant workers.

Solutions

USAID and the World Bank are a few organizations working to help get Tajikistan’s economy back on track. USAID began providing assistance to Tajikistan in 1992, and its work continues today. To help build Tajikistan’s domestic economy and decrease its dependence on remittances, USAID is supporting the expansion of the private sector in a variety of ways. For example, USAID supplied technical assistance to 7,906 individuals and generated 2,409 jobs in the dairy and horticulture practices.

In April 2020, the World Bank also approved a grant of $11.3 million for the Tajikistan Emergency COVID-19 Project to provide aid. This will go toward providing emergency cash assistance to poor households and strengthening the country’s healthcare capacity.

The Tajik government is also working to ameliorate the economic fallout from COVID-19. For example, the government offered a number of targeted social assistance programs, deferred tax collections and relaxed monetary policy. Deferring tax payments provided households and firms with the additional support they needed to finance temporary disruptions in cash flow. Additionally, the government’s targeted social assistance programs increased public sector wages and pensions by 10%-15%. Still, the government is doing little to diversify the Tajik economy to avoid economic disaster in the future. It needs to implement domestic economic policies that encourage private sector development. Additionally, policies that help maintain a stable environment for that private sector activity are necessary. These solutions would help businesses thrive in Tajikistan and decrease their dependence on remittances.

Looking Forward

The COVID-19 pandemic changed Tajikistan’s economy and the lives of the Tajik poor. However, the country should still be able to rebound. The Asian Development Bank predicts that Tajikistan’s GDP growth rate may reach 5% by the end of 2021 from a pre-pandemic growth rate of 7.5%. Thus, Tajikistan may still reach the target it set in its National Development Strategy up to 2030. The strategy sets a target of increasing domestic incomes by up to 3.5 times by 2030 and reducing poverty in half. Should the Tajik government grant the private sector more opportunities to invest, create jobs, and thus, contribute to the economy, it may very well attain this goal.

– Savannah Algu
Photo: Unsplash

Tajikistan’s Response to COVID-19In February 2020, many countries arranged a summit to discuss how they would assist countries with weaker health care systems due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tajikistan’s response to COVID-19 was one of the topics at the summit.

Tajikistan, a small country in Central Asia, is regarded by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the most impoverished countries. Primarily private out-of-pocket deals run the country’s health care system. According to the WHO, this process undermines the system’s ability to grow in equity, efficiency and quality.

Combating COVID-19

Tajikistan was one of the first countries to receive COVID-19 support. In April 2020,  the World Bank provided emergency relief to Tajikistan, along with aid from various other countries. The World Bank said that it is a continuous goal to strengthen Tajikistan’s response to COVID-19 by improving its health care system.

On June 7, 2020, Tajikistan received emergency medical teams (EMTs) and mobile laboratories from Poland, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom. After this support, the country began to see an increase in COVID-19 contact tracing, testing and optimization of patient care. The EMTs gave Tajikistani health care workers advice on how to handle severe COVID-19 cases.

Tajikistan enacted a national COVID-19 laboratory upscale plan, and with help from international aid, the Tajikistan government established a Public Emergency Operations Center. On July 22, 2020, Russian lab experts arrived in the Central Asian country to help strengthen its data management system. Now, Tajikistan is seeing an increase in testing and staff capacity.

In addition, USAID donated $7.17 million to the Tajikistan government. Tajikistan used the funding to support migrants that traveled into the country. The country is also buying new, life-saving equipment and medical supplies. In April 2020, the USAID and other American organizations sent 58,620 kilograms of food to more than 100 health and social welfare institutions. These donations totaled approximately $171,000.

Further, the World Bank allocated $11.3 million to a grant for the Tajikistan Emergency COVID-19 Project. The project works to improve healthcare for Tajikistan’s citizens, sending funds to impoverished households and informing the public on COVID-19 safety measures.

Hope for Tajikistan

The Intensive Care Unit in Varzob, Tajikistan, was one of 10 hospitals chosen for refurbishment with funding from the World Bank. The hospital received upgraded medical equipment and supplies to strengthen Tajikistan’s response to COVID-19The Tajikistan hospital can now serve all district citizens instead of only private out-of-pocket citizens.

Several hospitals throughout Tajikistan received batches of medical equipment. Donations included 68 ICU ventilators, 68 ICU beds with patient monitors and 400,000 pieces of personal protective equipment.

According to the World Bank, 41% of Tajikistani households reported that they had to reduce food consumption, while 20% of families could not afford health care. With international funds, the Tajikistan government sent out one-time cash payments of 500 somonis to approximately 65,000 low-income families with children less than three years old.

In February 2021, Tajikistan received a grant for COVID-19 vaccines and to increase the oxygen supply in 15 of the country’s hospitals. Most of the funding went to Tajikistani patients suffering from COVID-19 to receive top-of-the-line care. Subsequently, the remaining grant money provided one-time cash assistance to an additional 70,000 poor households.

Future of Tajikistan

On June 16, 2021, the Asian Development Bank approved a grant of $25 million to strengthening Tajikistan’s response to COVID-19. This grant helped the country procure COVID-19 vaccines and improve its vaccination system. On the same date, Tajikistan created a goal to vaccinate about 62% of its population. This grant is one of many that allowed the country to strengthen its supply of medical equipment and care for the maximum number of high-risk COVID-19 patients.

As of July 9, 2021, Tajikistan has vaccinated 1.2% of the population, administering 223,648 doses. With help from international aid, the country is giving out approximately 9,273 doses each day. It will take more than 200 days to vaccinate 10% of the population, but Tajikistan is steadily recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

– Rachel Schilke
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid in Central Asia
Central Asia comprises Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. The combined population of these countries is about 72 million. Promising foreign aid efforts in Central Asia are working to combat a variety of issues in these countries.

Food Distribution

One critical area for foreign aid in Central Asia has been food security. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Food Programme (WFP) has been leading a program to provide food to impoverished children in Tajikistan. This program has given vegetable oil and flour to more than 22,000 households in Tajikistan.

This has been part of a more significant effort by the WFP School Feeding Programme to ensure student food security in Tajikistan. The School Feeding Programme has helped more than 600,000 students across the country.

Russia is a critical contributor to these aid programs. Since 2012, Russia has given more than $28 million to the School Feeding Programme to facilitate food distribution and the modernization of food infrastructure for schools.

The World Food Programme and Russia are not the only sources of food aid in Central Asia. The United Arab Emirate’s 100 Million Meals campaign has distributed more than 600,000 meals to Central Asia as of June 2021.

The organization gave out food baskets with enough food to feed an entire family for a month. It assists families in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The campaign coordinated with other charity organizations within these three countries, and the campaign target has already increased from 100 million meals to more than 200 million meals.

Electrical and Water Supply

Another critical area for foreign aid in Central Asia is the development of electrical infrastructure and water management. The U.S. recently started an effort via USAID to develop a sustainable and reliable electricity market in the region. An October 2020 agreement between USAID, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan planned to create an electrical market with “expected economic benefits from regional trade and… reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

USAID also recently started the Water and Vulnerable Environment project, which will help all five Central Asian countries. The project aims to “promote regional cooperation to improve natural resources (water) management that sustains both growths, promote[s] healthy ecosystems, and prevent[s] conflict.” This is the second water management project USAID has supported in the region in recent years, as it recently completed the Smart Waters project.

The Smart Waters project successfully ensured that dozens of citizens received degrees in water management or received additional training in the field. The project also trained almost 3,000 people in “water resources management, water diplomacy, water-saving technologies, and international water law through 100 capacity building events.”

Medical Assistance

USAID partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2021 to help Uzbekistan address the management of drug-resistant tuberculosis. The project’s goal is to better manage the disease by providing assistance to Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Health. The program conducted 35 training sessions throughout Uzbekistan, which resulted in more than 600 specialists receiving certification to prevent, identify and treat drug-resistant tuberculosis.

In recent years, foreign aid in Central Asia has resulted in food distribution, medical assistance, efforts to develop an electrical grid and assistance in water management. The U.S., Russia and the United Arab Emirates have contributed to these efforts alongside various international and local organizations.

– Coulter Layden
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate Reduction
The World Bank published an analysis in 2019 of the 15 countries with the greatest poverty rate reduction from 1999-2015. Of those 15 countries, Tanzania, Tajikistan, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and The Kyrgyz Republic were the most successful in reducing poverty. While some of these five countries are continuing to reduce their poverty levels, others have recently faced hardships, stagnating their ability to eradicate poverty.

5 Leaders in Poverty Reduction

  1. Tanzania: Tanzania saw a poverty rate reduction of 3.2% from 2000-2011. Moreover, its poverty rate is continuing to reduce as from 2007-2018, the poverty rate fell from 34.4% to 26.4%, and the extreme poverty rate fell from 11.7% to 8%. However, the wealth gap increased during that same time period, with the Gini coefficient rising from 38.5 to 39.5. This uptick in the wealth gap may be due to the fact that education and sanitation have become more accessible in cities but not rural areas. However, despite this increase, Tanzania is persisting in reducing its levels of poverty.
  2. Tajikistan: Tajikistan reduced its poverty levels by 3.1% from 1999-2015. Poverty rates fluctuate in Tajikistan depending on job availability and remittance. However, the poverty rate mostly remains on the decline in Tajikistan, albeit it is slower than in the past. From 2012-2017, the poverty rate fell by 7.5%, but now it is decreasing about 1% per year on average. The poverty rate has been decreasing slower because the remittances that Tajikistan has received have lessened over the past few years. Additionally, COVID-19 has negatively affected the economy, causing more food insecurity. Fortunately, expectations have determined that the country will recover quickly from this downfall.
  3. Chad: Chad experienced a reduced poverty rate of 3.1% from 2003-2011. The projected number of impoverished people in Chad increased from 4.7 million to 6.3 million from 2011-2019. Additionally, Chad ranks last on the World Bank’s Human Capital Index. The good news is that many nonprofit organizations are working to help decrease the poverty rate in Chad. The World Food Bank has established many support systems and has helped 1.4 million people so far. The International Development Association (IDA) improved learning conditions for over 300,000 elementary school children from 2013-2018. The IDA also provided health support for over 50,000 people from 2014-2018. These are only two examples of organizations that work to improve the quality of life of the people and reduce the poverty rate in Chad.
  4. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): The DRC reduced its poverty rate by 2.7% from 2005-2011. It remains low on the Human Captial Index with 72% of people living in extreme poverty. Yet, like in Chad, there are many nonprofits working to help reduce the poverty rate in the DRC. For example, the IDA helped 1.8 million people receive health services and provided work support programs for 1 million displaced people through 2018. The United Nations Capital Development Fund has been working in the DRC since 2004 and helps create a more financially inclusive environment. Even though the country has a long way to go, the hard work of these organizations shows a promising future for the DRC.
  5. The Kyrgyz Republic: The Kyrgyz Republic reduced its poverty levels by 2.6% from 2000-2015. The Kyrgyz Republic’s economy has experienced fluctuations since 2010 and remains vulnerable. Many citizens live close to the poverty line. However, the poverty rate in rural areas continues to steadily decline. Like Tajikistan, COVID-19 negatively impacted The Kyrgyz Republic’s economy. On July 30, 2020, the World Bank decided to finance three projects that will help “mitigate the unprecedented health, economic and social challenges caused by the…pandemic.” One of these initiatives includes direct financial help for up to 200,000 poor families. Overall, the Kyrgyz Republic has prevailed in reducing the poverty rate and increasing access to healthcare and education in the past 20 years.

Looking Forward

While some countries have regressed in poverty rate reduction, others continue to decrease poverty rates. However, good news exists even for countries with increased poverty rates. Nonprofits work to provide relief, aid and policy changes that help those in poverty.

Sophie Shippe
Photo: Flickr

Tajikistan During the COVID-19 PandemicIn the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan, which lies at the heart of Afghanistan, Pakistan and China, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have hit the population particularly severely. Since many of the country’s citizens rely on remittances that family members send to them from abroad, Tajikistan has been facing economic difficulties for years. Moreover, with the loss of employment that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, thousands of families are struggling to make ends meet. Here is some information about Tajikistan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food Insecurity in Tajikistan

Although the Tajik government has implemented emergency cash payments for public distribution and promised to raise the national wages, the donations of private individuals and the subsidization of food are the solutions that will make the largest difference according to Tajik citizens. As evidenced by the surveys that the World Bank conducted in 2020, the effects of COVID-19 have caused families to cut the size of their meals significantly and for parents to go hungry so that their children may have food to eat for lunch at school the next day. Nearly half of respondents to the World Bank survey reported reducing their food intake to compensate for the increased pressure on finances.

The Tajikistan Emergency COVID-19 (TEC-19) Project

Yet amid all of this misfortune and sorrow, the humanitarians working with the World Bank have helped draft a relief bill called the Tajikistan Emergency COVID-19 (TEC-19) Project with the government of Tajikistan to provide some support and assistance to the Tajik citizens. The program, which is specifically intended for low-income families, aims to provide immediate and direct solutions to public health challenges by supplying funding for more ICU beds and granting emergency cash transfers to families with toddlers and infants.

Despite these efforts, only 50,000 families who the Targeted Social Assistance Program listed as critically poor were eligible to receive these funds. The resources that charitable organizations can give are finite and the government of Tajikistan does not have the capacity to offer the level of resources that the country requires for recovery. Among the 9.3 million people within Tajikistan, about 2.5 million individuals still fall below the poverty threshold. In 2019, Tajikistan began experiencing promising economic growth, with contributions from Tajiks abroad allowing the percentage of those in poverty to decrease by several points for the first time in years. However, in this most recent economic crisis, projections have determined that poverty rates will rise again.

Solutions to Help Tajikistan During the COVID-19 Pandemic

So, what can individuals and organizations do to aid Tajikistan during the COVID-19 pandemic? In an article from RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty by Farangis Najibullah, a Tajik woman named Maryam suggested that institutions implement free lunch programs for school children, at least until the COVID-19 pandemic becomes more readily treatable in Tajikistan. Providing mid-day meals to young students free of charge would alleviate financial pressures immensely for families during a time of extremely high food insecurity and allow parents to save their money for other necessities.

Additionally, the World Bank predicts that the Tajik economy will experience future growth within the next couple of years, suggesting that there is room for private investors to fund projects and get laborers back to work. Despite the current global conditions, Tajikistan’s surrounding neighbors, China and Russia, may soon rein in an era of recovery that will offer trade opportunities for adjacent economies. Private donors have the power to spark a period of upward mobility in Tajikistan and drastically revitalize the market.

Tajikistan’s potential financial growth, which the World Bank estimates could go up to more than 3% in 2022, is beneficial for both the Tajik workers and the investors in the larger sphere of trade as an increase in international trade would bring Tajikistan out of its economic slump and bring about a reliable source of labor for future endeavors. If these efforts succeed, the government of Tajikistan would be able to make great progress in providing more in-depth public programs, financing social enrichment efforts for families and youth and addressing its international debts, paving the way to a more stable footing for the nation in 2022.

– Luna Khalil
Photo: Flickr