This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable

March 12, 2009
Tajikistan weathers energy, food shortages through winter

Tajik people have weathered harsh winters and shortages in electricity.

The International Crisis Group recently stated that Tajikistan, a small country bordering Afghanistan, is “on the road to failure.”

For the second winter in a row, the country is facing energy infrastructure problems. Hundreds of Tajiks died in the cold or went hungry last winter, due to electricity shortages and crop devastation. This year, the U.S. has pledged $5 million in emergency aid to help needy Tajiks.

Ilan Greenberg of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting ventures to the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, and writes in the “Untold Stories” blog about the country’s crippling problems.


On the Turkish Airlines flight into Dushanbe, the young American woman sitting next to me was enthusiastic about her next three days of personal freedom in Tajikistan. She is a political officer at the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan. “I’m looking forward to being able to walk around on streets,” she told me in a slight southern twang. “It will feel good to be in a normal city.”

Dushanbe comes off well when compared to, say, Kabul. But the Tajik capital fares less well in comparison to most other places. Running water and electricity are pretty constant in the tree-lined city center. But basic, working infrastructure degrades the farther it is from government ministries and the presidential residence dominating Dushanbe’s low rise urban nucleus. Drive just a few minutes and street lights stop working, apartment block windows flicker by minuscule candle light, and only the piercing of flashlights break the blackness in alleyways and courtyards.

The situation is even more dire outside Dushanbe’s city limits. Tajikistan’s borders are heavily patrolled by soldiers and guards (with significant assistance from American drug enforcement officials) trying to interdict the huge poppy smuggling coming out of neighboring Afghanistan in the south (or profit from it, in which case presumably without assistance from American drug enforcement officials) and with the smuggling of about everything else from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to the north and east.

The countryside is wracked by devastating problems – from catastrophic water and energy shortages to rampant child labor practices in the cotton fields to jobless villages where Tajik men returning from Russia face unending unemployment. Last winter was catastrophic for farmers – a devastating cold front moved into the country and stayed for months, knocking out the winter crop. People froze and went hungry. This winter was warmer, but farmers continue to buckle under the hardships of lack of accessible water, lack of electricity, and the widespread and enforced requirement to grow unprofitable and unsustainable cotton.

To read more, see the original post.

The views expressed by contributing bloggers do not reflect the views of Worldfocus or its partners.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Brian Harrington Spier under a Creative Commons license.




“Jesus wept”…and all the Unknown,
Forsaken, and destitute Mocked…of all the Ages
have been hearing Him…not with the physical ears but with a Heart of Unified Feeling that continues to beat to the sounds of Sorrows and Miseries from all the World over…in every language and by each individual tongue of dialect that may come one day to utter forth Human Compassion in naked Truth, again, as with a lonely Unified Voice…like some resurrected John the Baptist crying out, once more: in the Great Light of Day, one standing alone, from out of the timeless Wilderness throughout the long spans of temporal Empires ancient and modern that have
risen and fallen even up to this present Night of affairs wherein many things seem obvious yet remain hidden just as the innumerable oppressions and cruelties of Human Society remain under the falsehoods of ‘official’ pleasantries.


Some of these former Soviet republics are gonna have to seek a realignment with Russia.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Produced by Creative News Group LLC     ©2021 WNET.ORG     All rights reserved

Distributed by American Public Television