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Tajikistan Compound Crises Flash Appeal 2008

Tajikistan Compound Crises Flash Appeal 2008

18/03/2008

The severe cold wave and related energy crisis in Tajikistan is compounding acute levels of underlying poverty and human suffering resulting from a combination of natural, economic and social shocks. Atypical snowfall, which registered 245 percent above the national average for December, and freezing temperatures have caused extensive damage to water and electrical supply systems, leaving urban areas with as little as two hours of electricity per day and many rural areas with none.

The poorest country of Central Asia, Tajikistan also has the highest rate of female-headed households as a result of labour migration, exacerbating the hardships of disproportionate poverty and discrimination faced by Tajik women.

Living conditions and nutrition have steadily plummeted over the past months. Recent assessments reveal that food and fuel supplies are nearly exhausted in rural areas. The risk for many families to fall into long-term destitution has increased as they are forced to sell productive assets in order to feed their families. In numerous areas, families have reported to consume only one meal per day.

As a result of this and past interlocking crises, an estimated 2 million people are in urgent need of assistance. The Tajikistan Compound Crises Flash Appeal 2008 has outlined strategic priorities for the country that, alongside Government efforts, aim to address immediate live-saving needs and reduce likely and preventable life-threatening situations evolving from the crisis, including potential flooding during spring and related damage.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

Over two-thirds of Tajikistan’s population derives its livelihood from agriculture. The country is prone to numerous natural disasters on a yearly basis – such as earthquakes, floods, avalanches, and drought – which continually jeopardize the food production levels, purchasing power and food security of the country’s rural, and often most vulnerable, communities. Many families have yet to recover from agricultural production losses caused by natural disasters in 2006 and 2007, coupled with marked increases in the cost of food and other basic needs.

In 2006, 27 percent of children in Tajikistan suffered chronic malnourishment and stunted growth, in addition to 17 percent reported to be underweight. The current crisis is likely to worsen nutrition indicators, increasing malnutrition and morbidity rates particularly among children, women, the elderly and other vulnerable groups.

Freezing temperatures are causing severe damage to agriculture, livestock and fisheries production assets. The loss of crops and seeds for winter cultivation has triggered seasonal unemployment among landless farmers. Also, the lack of fodder is deteriorating the health and productivity of livestock. With agriculture as a sustainable means to improve household food security and nutrition, rehabilitation of the sector will be key to strengthening the capacity of rural populations to recover from past, present and future shocks.

FAO in Tajikistan

Through the provision of training and essential inputs, such as quality seeds, agricultural tools, veterinary supplies and fisheries equipment, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has helped thousands of families in Tajikistan to increase their self-reliance and improve their nutritional intake, while boosting local rural economies and sustainable access to food.

Within the framework of the Tajikistan Compound Crises Flash Appeal 2008, FAO’s main objectives are to:

  • improve sustainable food and nutrition security through increased local food production;
  • protect livelihoods and enhance productivity through the provision of time-critical inputs to farming  and pastoral households; and
  • increase self-reliance among families most at risk through increasing household-level food production activities targeting people most in need.

As part of the Tajikistan Flash Appeal 2008, FAO is appealing for US$5 million.