Living conditions in Tajikistan are harsh: deep valleys, barren mountain massifs, hot summers, bitterly cold winters. Most of the population are farmers, but only 7% of the land area is arable. Tajikistan remains the poorest of the former Soviet republics.
Forgoing the use of chemical fertilizers
Helvetas has been active in Tajikistan since 2009, seeking to develop markets so farmers can improve their living standards. We put small-scale fruit and vegetable growers in touch with local processing plants and train them in ways of improving farming methods. Specifically, they learn to forgo the use of costly chemical fertilizers that pollute the environment, thereby improving the quality of their produce, which can then fetch higher market prices. Their income security is also shored up by firm supply contracts. One example is for the supply of organic apricots that are marketed in Switzerland and elsewhere.
Partner in implementing water reforms
Helvetas also supports the Tajik government in the implementation of a national water reform to increase agricultural productivity. This includes maintenance and repairs to irrigation canals and setting up institutions to administer the catchment areas and allot the water equitably.
Addressing labor migration problems
Due to the lack of jobs in Tajikistan, many young men go abroad (mostly to Russia or Kazakhstan) to work for subsistence wages under what are sometimes inhumane conditions. This labor migration leaves a great many problems in its wake, especially for wives left behind. In many cases the men get a divorce from abroad. The women are abandoned, often with several children to take care of and no job prospects.
Free legal counseling
Helvetas runs legal aid centers in conjunction with the government, where women (and men, too) can inquire free of charge about their legal rights, e.g. regarding alimony and child support. They are also provided legal counsel in court if needed. Since the Tajiks, especially the rural population, hardly know their legal rights at all, campaigns to inform them have been launched on social media and mass media, such as public service announcements on TV, as well as at events and on posters.
Visit the website of Helvetas Tajikistan.