Since 1997, when Mission East began working in Tajikistan, the country has moved from a critical state of civil war, in desperate need of emergency distributions of food, to one of relative stability, but in need of long-term assistance. Despite a small improvement in living conditions, an estimated 60 percent of the total population still lives below the national poverty line.
Important sustainable development
Mission East's strategy in Tajikistan focuses on improving livelihoods for vulnerable households and communities, with a particular emphasis on community mobilization and community management of the solutions to the problems they face. Current programming focuses on the strengthening of civil society structures – both local organisations as well as grassroots initiatives like women’s groups or groups of parents of children with disabilities, to ensure self-management and sustainability.
Mission East has undertaken a variety of initiatives to help communities address poverty issues in a holistic and integrated way. As a few examples, these activities have included: support to small-scale agriculture, establishment of farmers' cooperatives, enabling new income generation opportunities, construction of clean water systems, promotion of hygiene behaviour change, improving household energy efficiency and use of alternative energy sources.
Help to children with disabilities
One particular group of people, who are especially vulnerable to the effects of poverty in the rural areas of Tajikistan where Mission East works, is people with disabilities. Mission East has undertaken to help children with disabilities in rural areas get access to rehabilitation services, and provides support for parents to better help their children and stand up for the rights of their children.
Preparation for disasters
Another niche area for Mission East in Tajikistan, is protecting lives, livelihoods and community assets from natural disasters in a context where floods, earthquakes and landslides are prevalent and increasingly frequent. The poor are most likely to suffer the most from these calamities, and in remote rural areas, have the least access to support to help them recover. Helping communities to reduce the potential impact of disasters and be better prepared to respond when disasters strike is therefore a primary focus for Mission East in Tajikistan, where we work with local volunteers, government entities and the private sector to improve disaster preparedness together.