Poverty in Tajikistan
Poverty in Tajikistan is significant with approximately 2.9 million of its 9.5 million inhabitants living below the national poverty line. Tajikistan’s low GDP capita further underscores the country’s dismal socioeconomic situation. In 2019, it did not exceed $871, making it the lowest in Central Asia.

Limited employment opportunities have forced the local population either to solicit work in Russia, with remittance payments accounting for up to 50% of the GDP and reaching close to $2 billion in 2016, or turn to agriculture. Farming employs as many as 50% of the workforce, but seeing as almost one in four Tajik households does not possess secure access to food, it has failed to mitigate poverty. Although Tajikistan is an agrarian economy, its mountainous terrain, degraded pastures and such problems as exiguous agricultural knowledge and subpar infrastructure militate against the farmers’ yields and perpetuate food shortages.

However, this has not escaped worldwide attention, and many international nonprofits are currently present in Tajikistan. Their actions are helping people climb out of poverty. These organizations include the following.

Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)

The Aga Khan Foundation is an international nonprofit that has regional projects covering agricultural assistance, educational opportunities and investment in the Tajik energy sector. One of its pilot initiatives was the First Microfinance Bank Tajikistan. Since its creation in 2003, it has generated 3,500 jobs across the country and financed more than 20,000 clients.

Equally worth mentioning is its Mountain Societies Development Support Program, working with 300,000 farmers to maximize crop yields by managing resources better and to adapt to floods and landslides, which otherwise displace 100,000 villagers each year.

Recipients could obtain seeds from one of the AKF’s 67 agricultural input revolving funds. To support these positive developments, this NGO has financed 1,600 rural infrastructure projects, expanding farmers’ access to markets away from their remote communities and helping 108,000 rural Tajiks gain confidence in their ability to feed themselves both sufficiently and regularly.

Since combatting poverty in Tajikistan cannot occur without education, it undertook steps toward broadening the local children’s learning opportunities. Besides teaching students English through its Learning Support Program and enhancing their leadership skills at summer camps, the AKF manages its own school. The Aga Khan Lycée, based in Khorog, a town populated by no more than 30,000 people, serves 1,000 pupils. With 180 of them enrolled in scholarships, many of those who attend this school and receive a good education, come from poor or disadvantaged families.

Operation Mercy

Operation Mercy has headquarters in Sweden and collaborates with Tajik farmers to improve their yields. More specifically, it targets the nation’s apple growers and trains them in orchard management and soil development, while also providing infrastructural support by procuring equipment and building greenhouses. Thanks to its aid, one farmer from the Pamir mountains, where cultivating anything but root vegetables was previously an unattainable dream, collected more than 700 kilograms of vegetables in a single year.

DVV International

Operating in Tajikistan since 2003, DVV International belongs to the German Adult Education Association and focuses on providing disadvantaged groups, such as former prisoners, people with special needs or impoverished youths with high-quality vocational training. These are among the most vulnerable to poverty in Tajikistan, seeing that many lack the skills to find permanent jobs and some of them may not even partake in agricultural activities. In the country’s capital, Dushanbe, this international nonprofit offers training courses as well as career guidance.

Furthermore, it has partnered with the Tajik Adult Education Association and numerous local NGOs to staff schools and training centers and equip them with the required materials. Its Promotion of Social Change and Inclusive Education scheme saw the group organize 18 peer-to-peer vocational training activities for disabled youths. It also conducted small business development courses and gave business start-up grants to aspiring young entrepreneurs in Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region as part of its YES to Change project, which was realized between 2015 and 2018 with an estimated budget of $727,500.

Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED)

ACTED is a French-based international nonprofit that boasts four offices in different towns across Tajikistan and works primarily on disaster aversion and preparation. Its activists assist farmers by teaching them watershed management techniques and advising them on how to protect their crops from floods.

In the country’s Sughd region, containing more than 3 million hectares of pasture lands, ACTED continues to support measures to prevent pasture degradation, whereas in other herding-reliant provinces, it has organized a Policy Forum for herders and authorities to discuss this issue and decide upon collective action. Albeit not necessarily quantifiable, the organization’s contribution is tangible, as it helps forestall the impoverishment of even more Tajiks from climatic disasters and land mismanagement.

Many Tajiks witness extreme poverty, but the international community and international nonprofits, in particular, are striving to improve the situation. Whether through promoting better farming techniques, broadening vocational training opportunities or helping eschew natural disasters and their dire consequences, NGOs are making a valuable contribution to eradicating poverty in Tajikistan.

– Dan Mikhaylov
Photo: Flickr

Five Facts about the Aga Khan FoundationThe Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) was founded in 1967 by the Spiritual Leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims (the Aga Khan). The organization is part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a group of private and international agencies with a goal of improving living conditions and opportunities for people in developing countries as well as fighting against global poverty. The AKF’s main goal is to address the root causes of poverty by sharing new and innovative solutions in health, education, rural development, civil society and the environment. The AKF works in over 30 countries around the world and operates about 1,000 programs and institutions, with a focus on economic, social and cultural development. Here are five facts about the Aga Khan Foundation.

5 Facts About the Aga Khan Foundation

  1. The AKF operates globally, with field resources in Asia and Africa, research offices in Canada, the U.K., and the U.S. and headquarters in Switzerland. They work with local, national and international partners to assist impoverished areas. Through their international sectors, they are able to organize outreach campaigns, volunteer resources and development education around the world. The AKF focuses on six areas: agriculture and food security, economic stability, education, child development, health and civil society. The main goal is to improve the quality of life by aiding in the fight against the issues associated with poverty.
  2. The AKF is involved with approximately 1,000 programs and partner institutions in over 20 countries and employs over 80,000 people, mostly from the developing areas that the foundation operates in. Through their worldwide efforts and partnerships, various AKF agencies and affiliated members have won awards in a variety of areas. The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme received the Community-based Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change Award in 2014, the Aga Khan University Hospital received the CSR Brands of the Year Award in 2013 and the Aga Khan Development Network itself was selected as a 2011 Devex Top 40 Development Innovator, plus the AKF has received several other awards and mentions in the past 20 years alone.
  3. So far, the AKF has helped millions of people improve their quality of life. Each year, over two million students from preschool to university are enrolled in programs and institutions operated by the AKF. Over 17 million people benefit from various financial services and over 10 million people receive electricity each year due to efforts by the foundation. Through various rural support programs, like participatory governance and natural resource management, over eight million people have been able to receive better food security and raise household income.
  4. The AKF has one of the largest nonprofit, private healthcare systems of the developing countries. Thousands of nurses, midwives and doctors have been trained through this system, and several community health projects are hosted each year to raise awareness of various health issues. One of the goals of the Foundation is to introduce the use of eHealth tools to enhance the quality of healthcare and make it more accessible to communities without easy access. Over 5 million people are able to receive healthcare each year due to services provided by the AKF.
  5. Each year, the Aga Khan Foundation Canada hosts a World Partnership Walk to raise money and awareness for the foundation. Started in 1985 by a group of women formerly from Africa and Asia, it has since become an annual event that is held in over 10 cities in Canada and is the largest event in the country held in support of international development. Since 1985, the World Partnership Walk has raised over $100 million to help initiatives in over 15 countries to help reduce poverty and improve quality of life across Africa and Asia.

The AKF is an international network of agencies working to fight poverty and improve the quality of life for people in developing countries around the world. These five facts about the Aga Khan Foundation show that by providing well-rounded opportunities like schools, healthcare and financial help, the foundation has been able to provide a variety of assistance to those in need. The Aga Khan Foundation has helped millions of people over the last 60 years and is on track to help millions more in the near future.

– Jessica Winarski
Photo: Aga Khan Development Network


annual races against global povertyFor runners (or aspiring runners) who hope to combat global injustices while running, the following annual runs against global poverty are an easy way to combine physical and humanitarian passions. Some occur across the United States, while others are international, bringing together participants thousands of miles apart. Starting with a race in which runners run with the recipients of their donations, this list concludes with an extremely long race for those who don’t want to train for one. Here are seven annual races against global poverty.

7 Annual Races Against Global Poverty

  1. In Kinyarwanda, “Komera” means “be strong, have courage.” The organization by this name sponsors female scholars in Rwanda, paying for their full tuition and school expenses, and provides them a community of support and sport as a form of development. Every June, Komera hosts a fun run in Rwanda in support of empowerment and education for girls. This event is mirrored in Boston and San Francisco on the same day, as well as any other locations where people choose to individually host.
  2. The Aga Khan Foundation is a humanitarian aid organization that works in more than 30 countries in both Africa and Asia. Its initiatives cover integrated development, civil society, early child development, access to electricity and economic inclusion. Not only do they have countless walks and runs across the country throughout the year, but also host golf tournaments.
  3. The global Christian humanitarian organization World Vision has been tackling poverty and injustice, especially affecting children, since 1950. They now help more than 3.5 million children in almost 100 countries. Their mission includes social and spiritual transformation of communities through public awareness campaigns, as well as emergency relief. Their Global 6K for Water occurs annually on May 4 in nearly every state (with almost 100 runs in California alone). Proceeds go to providing clean water to those who don’t have it; according to the organization, “every step you take is one they won’t have to.”
  4. RACE for the Orphans stands for “Raising Awareness Compassion and Education” about what orphans around the world need. Each run raises money in the form of grants for American families to help them afford adopting international orphans. RACE for the Orphans hopes to reduce the staggering number of orphans in the world (more than 150 million). Starting in 2013, the annual race in Georgia backs new adoptive families the first Saturday of May.
  5. Concern Worldwide is a humanitarian organization that works with people across the globe living in extreme poverty. This annual four mile run in New York City started in the 1990s to raise money for programs ranging from development work to emergency response. Dara Burke, the organization’s Vice President for Individual Giving & Events, told The Borgen Project that hundreds of “people from all walks of life show up” each year on a Saturday in April to deliver “tangible hope” to Haiti and other recipients of the run’s proceeds.
  6. Hundreds of people in Illinois participate in the annual 5K walk/run for education to support Food for the Poor and Hope for Haitians in May. Food for the Poor combats issues ranging from malnutrition to lack of medical care in 17 Latin American and Caribbean countries. Their partner, Hope for Haitians, focuses on building houses and establishing clean water sources while establishing community self-sufficiency through education programs particularly in Haiti.
  7. Knowing that it’s difficult to change one’s daily schedule to run a 5K, the American Foundation for Children with AIDS designed a virtual, collective “walk,” called #30000Miles, reaching the capitals of all countries in mainland Africa. The walk starts on September 1 and ends once the participants have reached 30,000 miles. The proceeds help the organization support HIV positive children and their families in four countries in Africa, providing medical and educational support, as well as emergency relief and livelihood programs.

These annual races against global poverty are in the United States, but there are countless races around the world. They are all a great way to combine fitness and poverty reduction and runners can raise much more for the organization by pushing themselves in their fundraising.

– Daria Locher
Photo: Pixabay

In 1985, a group of globally-minded women from Vancouver rounded up 1,000 people for what they called the Partnership Walk in order to raise money for global poverty. The instigators had immigrated from Asia and Africa and wanted to make a difference for those still living in poverty.

That first year’s walk raised $55,000 in donations.

Today, the event is sponsored by the Aga Khan Foundation and has raised over $82 million for international development programs in the past 30 years. The Partnership Walk is held every year on the last Sunday in May in 10 Canadian cities including Regina, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, London, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Kitchener-Waterloo and Montreal. The walk is Canada’s most successful humanitarian event.

In 2013, the walk raised over $7 million and had 40,000 walkers across 10 cities in Canada. The 2014 walk is anticipated to raise over $7 million across Canada with around 25,000 walkers.

With the money raised, the Aga Khan Foundation puts 100 percent of the donations toward sustainable solutions such as education, clean water and community development.

“We didn’t just give them money or material support, we gave them knowledge and skills as well as advice,” said an Aga Khan representative about a village in Zanzibar that benefitted from the walk.

Aga Khan understands that their efforts cannot be black and white. Each country and community must be approached differently depending on resource availability, government structure and cultural beliefs, among other factors.

For the 2014 walk, the U.N. Women National Committee Canada joined the walk.

“People often say to me, ‘I’m just one person. I can’t make a difference,” said Almas Jiwani, the U.N. Women National Committee’s president. “The World Partnership Walk is something anyone can do to effect change.”

In addition to participants, individuals who sponsor walkers and those who volunteer make a huge difference in the event’s success.

As Jiwani said, anyone can participate in the walk and by doing so be part of the solution to eradicate poverty. The walk offers people an outlet in which they can be a part of something greater than themselves. Individuals can collaborate to affect the world in a much greater way than one individual’s efforts alone.

Heather Klosterman

Sources: Aga Khan Foundation, Global News, World Partnership Walk
Photo: Arlen Redekop

partnership walk

On Sunday, May 25, a record 10,000 participants came together in Toronto for the 30th annual World Partnership Walk, raising around $1.7 million.

Toronto was one of ten cities across Canada to host the walk. Vancouver and Victoria also held events on May 25, while walks in Montreal, Ottawa, and Regina occurred the following Sunday on June 1. Upcoming Partnership Walks will be held in Calgary, Edmonton, London and Kitchener-Waterloo.

The primary 5K event began at Metro Hall in Toronto. Activities for children and seniors, team games and global education programs were also offered.

The World Partnership Walk is an initiative of the Aga Khan Foundation. The first walk was held in 1985 by a small group of women in Vancouver. They had immigrated from Africa and Asia and were looking for a way to support those they left behind. The first Partnership Walk included just over 1,000 walkers and raised $55,000.

Last year, nearly 40,000 walkers from 10 cities across the country raised more than $7 million for the cause. Toronto alone raised roughly $2 million and had 9,000 participants.

Today, the walk is considered the most successful event of its kind in Canada. In the last 30 years, participants and supporters have raised more than $82 million for global development programs. All of the money raised goes directly to development programs sponsored by the Aga Khan Foundation.

In 1995, the Partnership Walk expanded to the United States, and is now held in ten U.S. cities: Atlanta, Birmingham, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Memphis, Orlando, San Antonio and San Francisco. Many of these cities will be hosting events in September and October of this year. In 2007, the Partnership Golf event was launched, and is now held in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Seattle.

The Aga Khan Development Network is a private, non-denominational international organization. It supports programs that aim to improve the quality of life in the developing world, with a focus on Asia and Africa. The Aga Khan Development Network employs roughly 80,000 people to work in 30 developing countries around the world. In 2010, their budget for development activities was $625 million.

The Aga Khan Development Network is a system of agencies working together to achieve international development. Initiatives such as Health Services, Education Services, The Fund for Economic Development, and The Trust for Culture pursue their own development goals while supporting the primary framework of the The Aga Khan Development Network.

Funding for these development programs is obtained through national governments, institutions and private partners. Global partners include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citigroup Foundation, European Commission, MasterCard Foundation, OXFAM, People in Need, Scotiabank, Smithsonian Institution, UNESCO, UNICEF and WHO. Funding also comes from donations and fundraising events such as the Partnership Walks and the Partnership Golf Tournaments held in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The founder and chairman of the The Aga Khan Development Network is the Aga Khan, who became the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims on July 11, 1957. Despite his religious affiliations, the Aga Khan is committed to international development for all global citizens, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. He has maintained a strong commitment to the The Aga Khan Development Network for more than 50 years.

– Kristen Bezner

Sources: The Aga Khan Development Network, Brampton Guardian, CNW, Partnerships in Action, World Partnership Walk
Photo: Active

With a vision to encourage global economy success, ACDI/VOCA began in 1963 as product of major U.S. farm co-ops and partners like Nationwide. ACDI/VOCA received its name as an economic development organization and 501(c)(3) non-profit in 1997 after nonprofits Agricultural Cooperative Development International and Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance merged. The U.S. cooperative organization combined the ACDI’s long term development goals with VOCA’s interpersonal volunteer activities. The ACDI/VOCA is now led and organized by President and CEO, Carl H. Leonard and Chief Operating Officer, Bill Polidoro.

Driven to promote economic opportunities, ACDI/VOC strives for positive global economic and social change. The ACDI/VOC achieves their commitment to poverty alleviation and broad-based economic growth through their diverse team, experience and knowledge of developmental resources, and commitment to over-sea beneficiaries.

The ACDI/VOCA’s total revenue of approximately $168 million funds practices of agribusiness, enterprise development, financial services, food security, and community development. With more than 1,500 employees, currently the ACDI/VOCA, organizes 79 active projects in 35 countries. ACDI/VOCA’s first major project helped create a cooperative in India that became the region’s largest fertilizer producer. ACDI/VOCA has also found success in developing local markets. From 2002 to 2010, ACDI/VOCA devoted every two acres of land in Kenya to maize through implementation of the USAID-funded Kenya Maize Development Program.

ACDI/VOCA’s focus on finance has implemented over 11,000 volunteer assignments in 138 countries since 1971. Examples of recent ACDI/VOCA projects include an Aga Khan Foundation awards program to aid rural Malian farmers, turning organic waste into ‘Green’ Fuel for Peruvian coffee plants, and a USAID awards program to create jobs and livelihoods in Iraq.

The team of 170 U.S employees and 1,330 overseas employees delivers 300-400 short-term technical consulting assignments yearly. Through their list of 55,000 technical experts, public sector and multilateral organizational allies, and affiliates, the ACDI/VOCA is able to make a larger-than-life global impact.

With worldwide reputations for food security solutions, social benefits and economic opportunities, ACDI/ VOCA strives to be a learning and “doing” institution. Staff at ACDI/VOCA receive training in various e-Cornell and Harvard online and Rosetta Stone language courses. In 2010, recognized ACDI/VOCA as the winner of the Opportunity Knocks People’s Choice Award for Best Non-Profit to Work for. ACDI further expands their influence by providing international, volunteer, and graduate student opportunities.

– Danielle Doedens

Sources: ACDI/VOCA, Devex, Facebook
Photo: Facebook

The Aga Khan Foundation’s Canadian division is celebrating after having raised $1.75 million on Sunday, May 26th. Thousands of people participated in the World Partnership Walk, which took place in Vancouver. The proceeds will be earmarked to fund poverty-reducing programs in Asia and Africa, including providing clean water and ensuring that children have access to education. One specific project provides in-factory daycare services for textile workers in Bangladesh.

Last year alone, 40,000 Canadians participated in similar walks in ten different cities. Since it was first organized in 1985, the walk has raised over $75 million. All of the money raised goes directly towards international development. Not a single cent is spent on administration.

The foundation is a subsidiary agency of the Aga Khan Development Network, which is a group of private, non-denominational organizations that operates in 30 countries around the world. Though the title of Aga Khan is a religious one, the organization’s agencies conduct their programs “without regard to faith, origin, or gender.” Other agencies within the network focus more on areas like education, health, and economic development.

Similar walks are being planned for later this year all across America by Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A.

– Samantha Mauney

Source: Vancouver Sun,Aga Khan Foundation
Photo: Paderborner ‘SJ’ Blog

In Vancouver, Canada on May 26, 2013, the World Partnership Walk attracted thousands of participants hoping to raise millions of dollars in a walk to end global poverty. In 2012, the World Partnership Walk raised more than $2 million on behalf of the Aga Khan Foundation and its fight to end global poverty.

A regional campaign manager for Aga Khan Foundation, Zahed Lalani said that the donations raised this weekend will go towards future generations and people associated with Bangladesh’s garment factories. Usually, women are recruited to work at the factories and their newborn children are left with family members that are ill-equipped to care for them. Due to malnutrition, many of these infants don’t live past the age of five. The money and awareness raised last weekend will go towards the 50 factory daycare centers opened by the foundation to care for the children of the factory workers.

Another participant in the World Partnership Walk is Derek Gent, the current executive and director of the Vancity Community Foundation. Gent first came in contact with the often times illiterate and innumerate villagers in rural Bangladesh in 1996 and hoped to pass on his knowledge of Western economics. Gent was surprised at the sophistication one particular villager could apply to business without Western tools. On Sunday, Gent hopes others can learn from and connect with people from developing nations just as he did.

– Kira Maixner

Source: Vancouver 24hrs
Photo: Science Daily