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.
One of Tajikistan's first playgrounds with focus on accessibility for children with disability is now finished, next to Mission East’s center for these children.
During the season when most disasters happen in Tajikistan, many men are abroad, leaving women to take action themselves. 40-year old Gulya points away from her house and past the harvest of apricots that are drying on the hard stone ground in the backyard. This is the escape route for her and her children if another mudslide hits the village of Puthrin.
By Andrew McEwan, Mission East volunteer. February 2008