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AAH in Tajikistan: a flexible response based on analysing the causes of malnutrition

Frances Mason is Nutrition and Food Security Advisor for AAH-UK. Her past six years with the ACF Network has involved work primarily in the Horn of Africa, Central Asia, South East Asia and the Balkans. She has previously worked with MSF, UNICEF and local organisations in India and Bangladesh.

Tajikistan is the most land locked country in the world. The country covers 143,100 km2, an area approximately equivalent to the size of Greece. The country is split into four major geographic zones. Most of the country lies over 3,000 metres above sea level.

Political Analysis1

Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, the newly acquired independence of Tajikistan paradoxically had a destabilising impact on the country which is populated by less than 6 million people. The end of the Soviet era marked the outbreak of a struggle between the five main regionalist groups in Tajikistan: Leninabadis, Gharmis, Pamiris, Kulyabis and ethnic Uzbek Tajiks. The main cause of the 1992 -1993 civil war was a struggle for control of the resources of the country: land, cotton, and aluminium, as well as for control of the government. The war was also motivated by a desire to control the drug traffic network. Tajikistan is the transit route for drug producers in Afghanistan, Pakistan, South East Asia, etc.

Mothers with children from feeding centres

In 1992, Russia and Uzbekistan were not satisfied with the results of the Tajik elections that gave power to a democratic-Islamist majority. Therefore, both countries were instrumental in the outbreak of civil conflict and were directly militarily involved through troops on the ground. Russia and Uzbekistan could not take the risk of allowing a pro-Islamist government to become established in Tajikistan that could have become a back yard for Uzbek Islamist opposition and could have had a "domino" effect on Central Asian Republics and on the volatile Muslim Republics of Russia.

The signing of a peace agreement in June 1997 marked the end of Tajikistan's civil war, which claimed over 50,000 lives and caused the displacement of 700,000 people. Numerous international actors stepped in, e.g. a contact group consisting of Russia, Pakistan, Iran and Central Asian Republics, UNMOT, the OSCE, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the European Community, to encourage the different Tajik parties to implement the signed peace accord.

During 1999 and 2000, there was significant progress in the implementation of the peace agreement: the military wing of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) was dissolved and former members were incorporated into government. Nevertheless, the overall political and security situation remained fragile. While the risk of resumption of the civil war seems to be relatively low, there are still parties who remain frustrated by the numerous irregularities reported in connection with the campaigns and voting during the Presidential and Parliamentary elections (respectively in November 1999 and February-March 2000). There is a fear that this frustration could yet turn into violence.

Macro-economic situation

Tajikistan had always been the poorest republic in the Soviet Union. The end of the Soviet era resulted in the cessation of subsidies and the supply of raw materials and inputs from Moscow and high rates of unemployment without any social protection from central government. The post Communist and postwar period in which there has been some movement

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Reference this page

Frances Mason (2001). AAH in Tajikistan: a flexible response based on analysing the causes of malnutrition. Field Exchange 14, November 2001. p18. www.ennonline.net/fex/14/aah