Over 90% of Tajikistan’s territory is mountainous, making it prone to a wide range of natural disasters such as floods, landslides, avalanches and earthquakes. Indeed, the country has been assessed as the most vulnerable in the region of Europe and Central Asia in terms of future climate change risks.
Climate variability and climate change will impact key economic sectors in Tajikistan, including agriculture, energy, and water – and will put at risk the livelihoods of rural people who are already impacted by high levels of poverty. Tajikistan’s agriculture sector, in particular, will likely be affected by low levels of rainfall, drying-up of water resources, lower snow accumulation in mountain glaciers, and more frequent extreme weather events.
For communities across the country, it is important therefore to have a strong understanding of how climate change may affect their land, water supply, livestock and crops. This knowledge can guide people to adopt sustainable land and natural resource management practices, and to pass them on to future generations, so that communities will have greater food security today and in the future.
To help Tajikistan achieve this goal, the World Bank launched in 2013 the Environmental Land Management and Rural Livelihoods Project, which supports more sustainable management of natural resources and an increase in the resilience of communities in rural areas to climate change impacts.
Firuz Nurkhonov lives in Gulshan village, in the remote Farkhor district on the border with Afghanistan. Firuz established a “common interest group” and received financial support from the project to purchase a more productive breed of cattle.
“This new breed gives 20 liters of milk a day; our local breed of cows gave only two liters of milk per day,” says Firuz. “We never expected to see such a difference!”
By selling dairy products to local stores, Firuz and other members of the group can now reap the economic benefits of ranching this type of cattle. “In two years, we doubled the number of cattle purchased with project funds, and soon all 25 group members will own such cows.”
In addition to bringing extra income to impoverished communities, the more productive cattle breed also puts less pressure on pastures, as herd size and pasture degradation are reduced.