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Why would the international community care about the crisis in Tajikistan?

Written by on Monday, 18 February 2008
Politics and Society, Tajikistan
13 Comments

[inspic=26,leftclear,fullscreen,460] Photo from World Bank Photo Collection.

This is the question that I have been thinking about since the time when the Tajik government officially admitted its impotence to cope with the energy crisis that we have in our country and appealed to international community for help to survive the coldest winter in five decades (by BBC). But, why should the international community correct the mistakes of our government? The help of other countries means a temporary cure for Tajikistan but not the full treatment. When they give assistance to the population – they give assistance to the government which itself does not care about its people. By appealing to the international community the government wants to put its burden on someone else.

Here is another question that makes me wonder: why the humanitarian aid from other countries is considered as a right thing but when it comes to promotion of democracy (or anything like that) it is considered as interference in internal affairs?

Here is some information from AsiaPlus (rus) and other sources that clearly shows the scale of the crisis in Tajikistan.

The supply of electricity is decreasing day after day as the water in Nurek dam decreases and it has almost reached the critical point when the Nurek hydropower station will work only on the inflow of Vakhsh River. In that situation the hydropower station will produce only 15 million kilowatts/day. To make a comparison – today the aluminum plant Talco uses 16 million kilowatts/day.

In present time, most of the population in the rural areas is supplied with electricity only 1,5 hour per day. In Dushanbe the population is supplied with electricity from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the morning and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the evening. The rest of the time people don’t have electricity and it also means – no cooking, no heating etc. Most of the enterprises have been closed down and the employees were forced to go to unscheduled and unpaid vacations.

Students have thirty-minute classes and sit in the classrooms with their coats and hats on. And the Ministry of Education still does not want to postpone classes till the warmer times. People who live in building apartments make fires in the streets to cook food and get warm. Some of them also do not have water in their apartments because the water-pipes got frozen. Yesterday running water was cut off for reconstruction almost in the the whole city of Dushanbe for three days.

48% of hospitals and other medical centers in the country are not supplied with electricity and don’t have water. There is little data about the deaths of adult people but we know that many newly-born children died during this cold period in the maternity hospitals. According to media reports, 303 babies and 12 young women have died as a result of this situation over the last month.

Things will get even worse in the spring. The energy crisis will turn into food crisis. We are already experiencing it (by BBC).

Today the farmers cannot save the crop which was harvested last year and they try to sell it for cheaper prices as soon as they can. These products – mostly fruits and vegetables – are supposed to be sold in the spring. Because of the cold winter we lost most of the crop planted in fall. We lost most of the grape gardens and some other fruit gardens that could not survive because of the abnormal cold. Also, according to the official statistics Tajikistan lost more than seven hundred hectares of potato fields. Taking into consideration that more than 93% of Tajikistan is mountains, this is a substantial amount.

We already buy one non (round bread) for two somonis (almost 60 cents). Last week it cost 1 somoni and one year ago it cost 20 dirams (1 somoni = 100 dirams).

The most interesting thing is that, we blame everyone for our problems – Uzbeks who don’t give us gas, Kyrgyz who don’t give us electricity, Afghans who use our electricity etc. – but we don’t blame ourselves. If we will not understand that it is only us who can change the situation we will live in such terrible conditions forever.

I am not against the humanitarian aid, but this can not endure forever. The sad thing about the whole situation is that, the warmer period will come and people will forget about this crisis. Today is really warm outside and I’m sure that half of the population has forgotten about the crisis. Tajiks are such people by nature that they go to see a doctor only when they are with one leg in grave. They behave in such way in regards to all other problems that they have throughout their life.

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13 Comments »

  • Andre says:

    The Tajik energy crisis and the response you predict from the Tajik people is interesting. South Africa have had a less severe but similiar problem with there energy supply. Load shedding has recently affect SA leading to serious economic problems, however, once the problem ends the cause issues are not addressed and follow up is scant and plagued by disinteres. It wuld be great if civil society played a greater role in following up on these sort of crises to ensure they arent repeated.

    Reply

  • firuz says:

    I feel so angry that our government with it’s uniq president never change their behaviour. I think our main problem is change the govenrent and its president. I am far away from country and recently graduated, hoped that I will return after one year to my country and will contribute my power for better live of tajik people from what I learned, but after reading this article, I think I won’t go back to my country……….. I will be very glad if someday tajik population will give up everything and fight for their rights. Then I will come back and fight with them……..

    Reply

  • [...] I saw two articles about the crisis in Tajikistan. The first is written by a Tajik man who give a lively description of the situation and argues that humanitarian aid does not solve the [...]

  • Peter Schultz says:

    Wow, this is terrible. I live in North Dakota, USA and it was -30° C this morning, but life goes on as usual here. We have an excess of energy in my state from coal, hydro and wind.

    There’s so much fuss about Afghanistan and the war on terror that the people being defended are left in the dust. I mean, I’ve heard of Tajikistan, but that’s all. I have no recollection of hearing about your civil war until I read about it this morning.

    How’d I end up here? Yesterday I was reading a poem which referred to a Zarathustra, I didn’t know who he was, strange in a land priding itself on freedom, isn’t it?

    Of course, I have heard of the Aryans, which is apparently related and unfortunately a rather taboo topic here. So modern Tajikistan is the place where white people are supposed to have come from way back in time, why shouldn’t that be celebrated?

    You all have the Nazi’s and the Russian’s hanging over your heads, as a general statement that’s not good in the eyes of Americans. I don’t see why white people should be afraid of where they came from.

    It seems to me Tajikistan ought to be the Switzerland of Asia. I would think you’d be able to bring in loads of the mountain loving tourist types, who also wouldn’t mind exploring the lands of the deeps roots of human civilization.

    The President and Government don’t matter (look at Italy), if the people of Tajikistan won’t stand up and take their place in history who will do it for them? Probably no one. I wouldn’t leave it up to the UN, that’s for sure.

    Reply

  • Ivo says:

    Vadim, it’s usally the local governments that dub it ‘interference in internal affairs’. The EU has tried in many countries to marry financial aid with promotion of freedom, democracy and human rights and usually the outcome is an alienation of the regime. And regimes don’t give a rat’s arse about their people. Look at Zimbabwe how with the deepening economic crisis and oppression of humar rights etc, it became more and more isolated, currently one €uro will buy you 8,000,000 Z$!

    If the intl’ community stops helping you guys this will push you deeper into the orbits of China, Iran and Russia — all of them far from being champions in human rights and democracy.

    And what you’re saying about the Tajiks reminds me of my own nation, Bulgarians are just like that as well, both when it comes to their personal health and politics.

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  • Tajik Boy says:

    If the intl’ community stops helping you guys this will push you deeper into the orbits of China, Iran and Russia — all of them far from being champions in human rights and democracy.

    A very true statement indeed. The trouble is that the West is not trying to “give us the fish”, but also tries “to teach us how to fish” (e.g. marriage of money with democracy, human rights, etc.)…

    However, I am not sure some of the folks back home get the idea.

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  • Tajik Boy says:

    … more precisely they only want the fish :(

    Reply

  • [...] is, probably, the worst problem that Tajikistan ever faced since the end of civil war. Neweurasia reports that most of the population is barely surviving this winter – the harshest in several decades – [...]

  • H¥P€R says:

    Dear Vadim,
    A Dutch friend of mine wants to get your copyright permission for this material. As he told me they want to translate it and publish it in a Dutch local newsletter.
    They have a project in Tajikistan. You can check this website for more info: http://www.tsp.nl

    I wonder if it’s possible?

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply

  • [...] Kazakh grain, and the poor in all countries have been hit severely by recent price surges. Vadim reported from Tajikistan: We already buy one non (round bread) for two somonis (almost 60 cents). Last week [...]

  • [...] is, probably, the worst problem that Tajikistan ever faced since the end of civil war. Neweurasia reports that most of the population is barely surviving this winter – the harshest in several decades – [...]

  • [...] also reports that this time the winter was so unexpectedly cold that the farmers could barely save their [...]

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