Global warming has received a lot of attention of late as we see its detrimental and damaging effects around the world. Unfortunately, countries who often do not aid in the cause of global warming are often the ones hit the hardest by its effects. Tajikistan is no stranger to the problems this crisis is causing. With a population of 8.5 million in this heavily mountainous region, Tajikistan is extremely vulnerable to droughts, landslides, and floods.


Current State of Tajikistan

The year 2015 brought high temperatures that caused massive glacial flooding and mudflows, damaging critical infrastructure in Tajikistan and forced 10,000 people to evacuate. Tajikistan’s development progress is extremely threatened with the risk of more such disasters. The nation has cut their poverty rate in half since 1999, which is an amazing accomplishment; but with major disasters wreaking havoc across this country, the nation is vulnerable once again.

In order to protect the socioeconomic gains and continue the development effects of infrastructure in Tajikistan, the World Bank and USAID have stepped in, partnering with the Tajikistan government on necessary and vital projects.


Bridges and Transportation

Strengthening the project Critical Infrastructure Against Natural Hazards aims to strengthen the country’s capacity to prepare for, mitigate and respond to natural disasters while reconstructing and upgrading critical infrastructure in vulnerable regions of Tajikistan. Bridges in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) will be improved to offer more resistance against flooding and mudslides.This will also allow more fluid traffic and secure access for emergency transportation.

Reconstruction of selected river embankments to improve river flow in the Khatlon region will increase household safety and prevent erosion. This project also seeks to develop a disaster risk financing strategy in order for Tajikistan to aid with post-disaster response, recovery and reconstruction.

According to the World Bank, this project is especially important “considering that, over the next 20 years, we will collectively build more infrastructure than over the last 2,000 years – locking in either risk or resilience for future generations.”


Irrigation and Clean Water

This considerable water damage has also affected Tajikistan’s clean drinking water. Almost 60 percent of the population lacks fresh water, and polluted irrigation water often substitutes for potable water in village households. In addition, waterborne diseases are increasingly high in many communities.

To help combat these issues, USAID works with the local government to deliver water services and works with farmers to better manage their irrigation water while educating families how to improve sanitation and hygiene behaviors. This effort has helped over 100,000 people in nine communities gain access to safe drinking water as infrastructure in Tajikistan continues to improve in aid.

Through strategic and climate-smart investments, and a more active and safe approach to emergency response and safe infrastructure, Tajikistan can better protect the lives of its citizens and continue to make strides in development as a nation.

– Kailey Brennan

Photo: Flickr

Development Projects in TajikistanA former member of the Soviet-bloc, modern-day Tajikistan, unfortunately, answers to the calling card of poorest country in Eurasia. In 2012, the U.N. Population Fund found that 50 percent of Tajiks live in poverty and the economic downturn has only worsened in Eurasia since this figure was published. High rates of food insecurity also beset Tajikistan, due to its mountainous terrain, harsh winters and scarcity of arable land.

An incredible 93 percent of Tajikistan’s territory is covered by some of the tallest mountains in the world. This fact alone is a significant contributing factor to many of the obstacles to development that currently beset Tajikistan. In addition to high rates of food insecurity, other contributing factors include lack of a reliable power supply, limited transport connectivity and low levels of private investment.

Because the Tajik economy is highly dependent on remittances from migrant workers, the country is especially vulnerable to the regional economic hardships. The World Bank estimated that remittances constituted more than 50 percent of the country’s GDP in 2012. Russia and Kazakhstan have been the favored destinations of Tajik migratory workers since the mid-2000s and the remittances received from migrant workers in these countries have lifted many Tajik families out of poverty. Over the course of 2015, however, remittances from workers in Russia fell dramatically, which had the effect of contributing to a decline in the value of the Tajik currency by almost 17 percent relative to the dollar, since January 2015.

Amidst the troubling economic hardships facing many Tajiks today are several aid programs and development projects that are working to keep hope alive in this country. Here are five of the most salient development projects in Tajikistan:

  1. The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Tajikistan Partnership Strategy seeks to help the Tajik government “achieve sustained and inclusive growth that is less susceptible to external shocks and create higher-paying jobs” through three key initiatives: infrastructure investments and urban and transport development; investment in climate reforms, technical and vocational education and training for the purposes of economic diversification; and enhancing water resource management and climate change adaptation, targeting poorer regions in order to improve food security. These strategic objectives were implemented in 2016 and have a target completion date of 2020.
  2. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) sees Tajikistan as a “linchpin” for regional security in Eurasia and has dedicated a significant amount of resources, with the goal of increasing the country’s security and stability. To combat food insecurity, USAID includes Tajikistan in its Feed the Future initiative, which addresses the root causes of hunger through accelerated agricultural development and improved nutrition. USAID has additionally worked to bolster the Tajik economy by assisting in the evolution of a regional electricity market.
  3. In an effort to foster economic recovery, The World Bank has dramatically increased its lending commitments to Tajikistan, from $10 million in 2016 to $226 million in 2017. Additionally, The World Bank implemented a Social Safety Net Strengthening Project in 2011, which aims to “improve the capacity of Tajikistan to plan, monitor, and manage social assistance for the poor.”
  4. Founded by the hereditary Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has operated in all regions of Tajikistan since 1992 and currently employs over 3,500 Tajik people. AKDN “supports the establishment of programs and institutions that allow the Government, private sector and civil society to play complementary roles” towards the goal of fostering prosperity and development in Tajikistan.
  5. The European Union (EU) has invested in development projects in Tajikistan since the formation of their partnership in 1991. Between 2014 and 2020, the EU’s development support for Tajikistan will focus on the health (€62 million), education (€75 million) and rural development (€110 million) sectors.

The current economic downturn has exacerbated Tajikistan’s struggle to overcome its numerous obstacles to security and stability, but these five development projects in Tajikistan provide hope for a more prosperous future.

– Savannah Bequeaith

Photo: Flickr

Progress and Education in Tajikistan

Despite some progress, Tajikistan, a post-soviet emerging nation, faces several obstacles today as a result of poor performance from its education system. Compulsory education in Tajikistan (primary and lower secondary) is free for all children, but, according to the Global Partnership for Education, there are many issues with the education system. Issues include problems with curriculum, minimal teaching and learning resources, deficient learning environments and an “insufficient use of the information system for decision-making and strategic planning.”

Like many other countries, Tajikistan has taken an initiative to solve these issues through the adoption of The National Strategy for Education Development (NSED). The NSED, which will continue until 2020, was approved by the Government in July of 2012. The strategy is separated into three general goals consisting of specific actions to be taken in the near future. The goals are: changing the structure of education, implementing a structural adjustment of the education system and business mechanisms and ensuring equal access to quality education.

While these goals are vague and appear to be far off, the strategy also outlines specific steps for following through with the developmental plan. For example, in the past, education in Tajikistan was based on a knowledge-based model. Part of the “structural” change to education will be constructing the system on a competency-based model instead.

Additionally, in order to implement a structural adjustment of education and business mechanism (another overarching goal), the NSED specifies introducing more early education programs. This would also allow students the liberty to choose which supplementary classes they would prefer to take. Additionally, it discusses “establishing a national education quality monitoring system for all levels” in order to implement these “adjustments.”

In terms of guaranteeing equal access to quality education, the NSED specifies greater access to education for children with disabilities and special needs. It will also ensure that minority students receive education in their native language. Furthermore, there will be a greater focus on providing incentives and means for girls to continue their education beyond the compulsory years.

In Tajikistan, the management of education is a task shared across all levels of government. The federal government takes charge of overall planning, the Ministry of Education monitors state policies and standards and establishes the curriculum. Meanwhile, the local governments supervise primary and secondary education. These levels of government must work together to follow through with the NSED if they wish to achieve its goals by 2020.

Melanie Snyder

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in TajikistanTajikistan is hardly at the forefront of many Westerners minds when it comes to global poverty. This landlocked and mountainous nation, nestled in the heart of Central Asia, is often forgotten about, but it requires assistance just as much as many other developing nations around the globe. For those interested in how to help people in Tajikistan, opportunities do indeed exist, largely in the form of NGOs working on the ground.

32 percent of Tajiks live below the poverty line, a rate significantly higher than its Central Asian neighbors. The nation is by far the most economically deprived in the Central Asian region, and its problems are frequently compounded by its unstable economy and geopolitical situation. More than one million Tajiks work in Russia and other ex-Soviet republics, leading 50 percent of the country’s GDP to be reliant on remittances. Additionally, its rarely-policed border with Afghanistan has led to pressure from Al-Qaeda extremists in its most remote corners.

How to help people in Tajikistan is reliant on the NGOs and aid organizations that operate there. Save the Children (STC) has had a presence in Tajikistan since 1992. Around 10 percent of school age children are currently absent from the education system. STC works to ensure Tajik children are in full-time education, especially girls. They have also made strides to protect the large homeless child population in the capital, Dushanbe, and have paid special attention to orphans. Consider donating or volunteering for STC to join them in their efforts.

The U.S. government has also joined the fight against poverty in Tajikistan. USAID has implemented the Feed the Future initiative, which assists farmers in achieving the crop development they need to sustain their families and communities. Thousands have achieved a more secure and sustainable relationship with their land as a result. USAID has multiple opportunities for American citizens to join them in their work. Volunteers are accepted on various projects both at home and abroad, and they are also eager to build partnerships with businesses and organizations to further their mission.

Rural Tajiks in the nation’s remote areas also receive support from groups such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Its agricultural financing facility is helping alleviate the crushing debt faced by many agricultural communities due to uncertain crop yields. A 25 million euro investment through the Tajik Agricultural Finance Framework (TAFF), set up by EBRD, has allowed farmers access to purchasing the crop of their choice, diversifying production and allowing for more economic stability. The EBRD also accepts volunteers, as well as businesses interested in partnering with non-profits that work in the Central Asia region.

These organizations offer the most salient answer for how to help people in Tajikistan. Through participating with these organizations, those interested in alleviating the crushing poverty experienced by many Tajiks can make a tangible difference.

Jonathan Riddick

Photo: Flickr

Why Is Tajikistan PoorTajikistan has done an incredible job over the past 15 years of reducing poverty and strengthening its economy. However, the poverty rate still remains at 31 percent. Despite being in the top 10 percent of countries in terms of poverty reduction, the question of why Tajikistan is poor remains.

Poor soil and a lack of employment opportunities have driven more than one million Tajiks to work abroad, mostly in Russia, in order to support their families. Additionally, narcotics are a huge source of economic activity in Tajikistan, leading to hostile environments for students and driving away foreign investment.

Education in Tajikistan is often truncated. There is limited opportunity for secondary school, and higher education is an opportunity only the most privileged can afford. The levels of education across Tajikistan are lower for women, as 12 percent do not end up graduating the compulsory nine years of primary school.

Minimal infrastructure is another explanation as to why Tajikistan is poor. Though there is a fairly well developed system of roads, they are in need of repair and supplement. Access to the internet and clean water, not to mention basic health care, is also restricted, and the railway system is rudimentary and ineffective.

Besides a lack of education and overall infrastructure, the rule of law in Tajikistan is weak, likely due to a history of civil war and a former dependence on the Soviet Union. This makes foreign direct investment unlikely, leaving little chance for new businesses to grow and develop.

Much has been done in recent years to continue to strengthen the Tajikistan economy, yet the question of why Tajikistan is poor remains. The country must work even harder than in the past, increasing access to the internet and energy, developing the private sector more fully and making the country an attractive one for foreign direct investment if they wish to continue the impressive growth that has been the norm for fifteen years.

Connor S. Keowen

Photo: Flickr

Tajikistan Poverty RateAs of 2017, the Tajikistan poverty rate is 32 percent, meaning that 32 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line. Additionally, 3.7 percent of people live on less than $1.90 a day, according to the Asian Development Bank.

Tajikistan has one of the highest poverty rates of central and west Asian nations. It is currently third, following Afghanistan and the Kyrgyz Republic.

The current poverty rate is only slightly higher than that of 2015, when it was at 31.5 percent. Over the last five years, the Tajikistan poverty rate has hovered around the low 30 percent range.

Notable strides have been made since Tajikistan declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. According to UNICEF, the Tajikistan poverty rate was above 70 percent in the early 2000s. However, it remains one of the poorest countries in western Asia.

Poverty in Tajikistan has a particularly significant effect on children, large families with multiple children, and families in rural areas. For every 1,000 babies born, 39 die before their first birthday.

The poorest people in the country live in the rural Khation region. Here, 78 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line. The primary cause of rural poverty is a reliance on agricultural activities that do not provide an adequate income.

Tajikistan is currently the largest remittance-dependent country in the world. In 2012, it was the top receiver of remittances from Russia. Today, remittances make up over half of Tajikistan’s GDP (52 percent in 2013). The majority of families in Tajikistan have a migrant member of the household. In general, remittances have had a positive impact on reducing child poverty. They have been shown to improve living conditions for children, especially in terms of nutrition and morbidity rates.

The World Bank’s solutions for reducing poverty in Tajikistan are geared primarily towards private sector development, specifically private investment and private sector-led growth. An increase in both areas, and especially in agriculture, are represented in the World Bank’s ongoing Country Partnership Strategy (CPS). The organization has highlighted the need for a more “competitive” and “transparent” business environment. The movement of goods across borders to regional markets needs to be made easier as well.

Several achievements in the fiscal years of 2011 and 2013 have helped combat poverty in Tajikistan. This includes the implementation of a “single window” that simplifies import and export procedures, as well as the implementation of a revised tax code simplifying tax reporting procedures. These results and others are evidence that growth and solutions are underway in Tajikistan.

Melanie Snyder

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Tajikistan

Since its independence, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the government of Tajikistan has made incredible strides in reducing poverty across the country. Since 1991, its pace has placed it among the top 10 percent in the world. Despite this, approximately 32 percent of the country’s 8.6 million citizens remain below the national poverty line, with 3.7 percent living on less than $1.90 per day. With so much strong work already done to combat poverty across the nation, it is important to understand the remaining causes of poverty in Tajikistan in order to successfully continue the fight to eliminate poverty.

The first of these causes relates to Tajikistan’s economy. The poorest of the former Soviet states, Tajikistan has an economy that is largely reliant on remittances from Tajiks who are working abroad – such remittances comprise almost 50 percent of the nation’s total GDP. This leaves the economy open to external factors with the potential to heavily damage the economy, particularly in times of global financial crisis. Additionally, Tajikistan has an apparent inability to draw in foreign direct investment (FDI) due to a perceived unfavorable business environment, inadequate infrastructure and a weak legal system. Without significant change in policy in these areas, investment is unlikely to be forthcoming, limiting the ability of the country to lift itself fully out of poverty via economic means.

The lack of FDI and general private sector investment is also damaging to employment opportunities in the country. Tajikistan’s most valuable asset is its human capital and, at present, the country is incapable of creating enough jobs for the growing workforce. This has led to only 43 percent of the working age population being employed, with younger workers and women particularly hard hit by the lack of opportunity. With private sector opportunities only comprising 13 percent of jobs across the country, there are significant barriers to employment for much of the population, which can further exacerbate Tajikistan’s poverty dilemma.

The third of the primary causes of poverty in Tajikistan is related to infrastructure. An estimated 60 percent of the population is unable to access clean drinking water, leading to water from irrigation ditches – which is often polluted – being consumed instead. Adequate sanitation is similarly inaccessible, which has led to waterborne illnesses such as typhoid and diarrhea being widespread throughout the country. Both of these are particularly dangerous to children and infants and, as such, infant mortalities and malnutrition levels are above acceptable rates.

Through the aid of foreign governments and nongovernment organizations (NGOs), progress has begun in this area. UNICEF’s school-based hygiene project, for instance, is bringing fresh, potable water to schools through developing wells and pumping systems that the children can use, as well as improving sanitation facilities. Through projects such as this, thousands of children have seen living and health conditions improve exponentially. The World Bank is also extremely active in Tajikistan, with just under $370 million committed to a total of 23 projects across the country. These projects are aimed at supporting economic growth through developing the private sector as well as tackling the infrastructural and public service issues which ail the nation.

While foreign aid is certainly benefiting the country, it is unlikely to be enough to further reduce its poverty levels without governmental support. Government involvement is necessary to start seeing progress is overcoming the causes of poverty in Tajikistan, which would ultimately lead to a decrease in its poverty rate.

Gavin Callander

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in TajikistanThe country of Tajikistan, situated in Eastern Asia, is a mountainous place with 90 percent of its population living in valleys. Though it has a population of 8 million, the people of Tajikistan often live in rural settings, with only 27 percent of the total population residing in urban areas. The remoteness of many is the cause of many common diseases in Tajikistan, as the distance makes it difficult for individuals to seek basic services.

The most common cause of death in Tajikistan is heart disease, which accounted for 21.4 percent of deaths in 2012. Many in Tajikistan who suffer from heart disease also have diabetes, which can cause complications. Cardiovascular diseases and diabetes also act as the second highest cause of premature deaths.

Aside from cardiovascular diseases, perhaps the most concerning aspect surrounds health care for children and mothers. Children in Tajikistan are disproportionately subject to respiratory infections, which accounts for 8.4 percent of total deaths. Tajikistan’s children are affected because of a lack of accessibility in rural areas; distance is the culprit of these deaths. In Tajikistan, only 63 percent of children under 5 who showed symptoms of respiratory infection were taken to a healthcare clinic.

Waterborne diseases are also common among children in rural Tajikistan. With roughly half the population lacking access to safe drinking water, and the absence of adequate sanitation practices, waterborne diseases are a major concern. These diseases include bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A and typhoid fever, and account for over 3.7 percent of deaths.

Malnutrition, though not a disease itself, is a very prevalent health problem in Tajikistan, and causes problems like anemia, iodine deficiency disorders and other micronutrient deficiencies. The effect of malnutrition among children and women in Tajikistan is startling. Over 64 percent of children and 57 percent of women in Tajikistan are iodine deficient, and 20 percent of children have stunted growth from malnutrition.

Fortunately, humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF and WHO are intervening to improve the health of women and children in Tajikistan. Through vaccination programs, sanitation education, and improved access to medical clinics, there has been progress, with WHO reporting a four-year lifespan increase.

Although the common diseases in Tajikistan often disproportionately affect women and children, many of them remain preventable. Through improved access to medical facilities in rural areas, these diseases will begin to diminish, thanks to the help of humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF and WHO.

Kelly Hayes
Photo: Flickr

Tajikistan has a population of 8.3 million, with an average life expectancy of 68 years. In the past 15 years, the country’s health policies were targeting many issues, including the water quality in Tajikistan.

The country has plentiful water resources through its two main river systems — the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya. These rivers account for 90 percent of Central Asia’s river water and 75 percent of the water used in irrigated agriculture, which account as fresh water reserves. The hydro-graphic network of Tajikistan is comprised of more than 25 thousand rivers, which mostly originated from glaciers totaling 69,200 km in length.

Despite the abundant water resources in the country, the drinking water supply system in rural areas remains underdeveloped. As much as 57.6 percent of the population had access to safe drinking water in Tajikistan in 2011.

After the first visit of Léo Heller, a U.N. expert on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation in 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) had launched a support program for Tajikistan. The program particularly focuses on water quality in Tajikistan’s rural areas, which includes nearly 72 percent of the country’s population.

Water Safety Plan, one of the main guidelines on managing drinking water quality and sanitation developed for Tajikistan is supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). The plan was adopted by the government to be utilized prior to 2020. This was “a critical moment for the realization of the human rights to water and sanitation in Tajikistan,” Heller said.

Meanwhile, water in Tajikistan is mainly used for irrigation, as the water traveling through pipes is not safe for consumption. The government of Tajikistan is attempting to prioritize its budget to help fundamental human rights and slow the spread of water-borne diseases through allocating its budget for sanitation and water supply. These measures are to ensure access to drinkable water in every part of the country.

Yana Emets

Photo: Flickr

Pakistan and Tajikistan
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon held a meeting in March reaffirming the close relationship between the two nations and their dedication to furthering the peace, prosperity and progress of Pakistan and Tajikistan.

The meeting followed the 13th annual Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Summit held in Islamabad, Pakistan. After showing remorse for the deaths of seven Tajikistani following a series of avalanches back in January, Sharif pledged the equivalent of nearly $5 million in aid to Tajikistan.

The leaders discussed the progress between Pakistan and Tajikistan in commercial growth, specifically with regard to the 1,000 Electricity Transmission and the Trade Project for Central Asia and South Asia (CASA-1,000). CASA-1,000 is a World Bank initiative developed to create sustainable electricity trade between Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and has recently been approved to move into its construction phase.

During the meeting, Sharif and Rahmon focused on augmenting trade, energy and defense collaboration between Pakistan and Tajikistan. The conversation was likely stimulated by the Turkish President’s appeal for the cooperation between ECO member states, in terms of connectivity and energy development. He highlighted the region’s need for trade by conveying that although the ECO holds more than six percent of the world’s population, its stake in global trade stands at only two percent.

At the 13th ECO Summit, the heads of state adopted the Islamabad Declaration and Vision 2025, both of which necessitated increased cooperation and integration. Speaking at a press conference late, Sharif declared his support for the Vision’s practical and efficient goals and application guidelines for the region’s development.

At the conclusion of the meeting between the leaders of Pakistan and Tajikistan, President Emomali Rahmon thanked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his approval of Tajikistan’s addition to the Quadrilateral Transit Traffic Agreement. The bilateral agreement, initially signed in 2010, will continue to facilitate connectivity and trade between Pakistan and Tajikistan.

Jaime Viens

Photo: Flickr