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Environment and health
The environmental problems in Tajikistan are the result of its climate, natural conditions (steep slopes), land-use change and the structure of the national economy. Erosion affects 97 percent of agricultural land and is a major threat to sustainable agriculture, particularly in hilly areas. In the l÷ss zone, steep slope grazing land has been converted to cultivated agriculture over the last 15 years resulting in significant loss of sediments, which has caused damage downstream.
The irrigated area is subject to substantial erosion, landslides, sagging and deformation. The area affected is an estimated 45 000 ha. Irrigation development in the foothill zone, especially in the more stony areas, induces increasing groundwater recharge, intensifying waterlogging and salinization of the lower areas and increasing sediment-loaded drainage water runoff. Collector-drainage water is the principal water polluter (common salinization, pesticides and other waste). Environmental pollution is increasing as a consequence of industrial production.
The two major land quality problems are the interrelated issues of salinity and waterlogging, caused by high groundwater levels. Salinization of irrigated land in lowland areas has increased because of inadequate drainage systems, low irrigation efficiency resulting in high water losses. The total area salinized by irrigation is 23 235 ha. The area waterlogged in irrigation areas is 25 742 ha.
Except for some lakes and groundwater sources, the water quality is considered drinkable. General salinity level of water at source is 0.05ľ0.40 g/litres.
According to research during the Soviet era, around 10ľ12 percent of irrigation water supplied to fields leaches to aquifers, and around 40 percent returns to rivers. In the Amu Darya river basin Tajikistan withdraws only 10ľ12 percent of the annual river flow, thus changes to water quality are insignificant.
Mud torrents occur mostly in the Zeravshan river basin on average 150 times/year and in the Vakhsh and Panj river basins on an average of 70 times/year, mostly in April (35 percent) and in May (28 percent). There are 102 mud torrents, hazardous rivers and annual mud torrents and floods result in great damage to the country. Flood damage alone in 2005 amounted to US$50 million (MLRWR and UNDP, 2006).
The Committee on Emergency and Civil Protection and MLRWR manage floods and mudflows. Lack of equipment, materials and capacity, however, has led to inefficient hazard mitigation measures.
Around 2 012 km of bank protection dykes and mud torrent discharge channels have been constructed to protect social and economic infrastructure. Reservoirs play an important role in protection of property and infrastructure from floods and mud torrents.