Earlier this month Christo Fabricius and I were in Tajikistan to conduct participatory workshops with Mountain Societies Development Support Program (MSDSP) staff and community members from two rural villages in the District of Roghun as part of a resilience assessment that began with an initial visit to the area last October. Tajikistan is a fascinating place for a resilience assessment for many reasons. The first being that it is relatively under-studied in the context of applying emerging theories and tools for examining the biophysical and human dimensions of environmental change. The second reason is that the country and region in general is experiencing rapid change across a range of sectors.
Climate change impacts will vary across Tajikistan but the average annual temperature in the region is expected to increase greater than the predicted global average. Evidence of receding glaciers and land degradation are coupled with the start of a mass-migration of workers returning home from Russia, episodic energy crises, and large-scale industrial development. These current dynamics are layered upon its relatively recent independence from Russia, Civil war in the 1990’s, and longstanding cultural traditions.
While the challenges to resilience can be readily apparent, there are also opportunities to draw upon the many forms of natural, social, and human capital in the region to build adaptive capacity. The resilience assessment process helps us to identify these opportunities and consider them in the context of existing constraints and the need to address imminent and expected system shocks alongside long-term uncertainty.
The resilience assessment in Tajikistan is focused on two rural villages (Kalay Nav and Kukobolukh) in the Roghun District east of the capital Dushanbe, in the Vakhsh River Basin. The foothills of the low mountainous area offer unstable slopes for crops and landslides occur regularly. Unreliable water and electricity supplies in the villages along with the poor condition of infrastructure and ecosystem degradation contribute to the village’s vulnerability. A steadily growing population is stressing the natural resource system and a shock looms with the potential sudden return of more than half of Tajikistan’s workforce over the coming months in response to Russia’s declining economy.
Part of the resilience assessment process involved participatory workshops with village members. The workshop activities stimulated thinking about water availability issues in the villages in the context of dynamic change, taking into account past adaptations, and considering ways to increase their capacity and options for coping with future uncertainty. Village members who participated in these workshops were really engaged and the workshops yielded valuable insights. More information about the assessment will be available in the coming weeks on the RA website.