Revision of the Tajikistan Compound Crises Flash Appeal 2008

8 May 2008

The Tajikistan Country Team is appealing for a revised target of $[1]26,803,384to support the Government of Tajikistan in its efforts to address the humanitarian needs arising from the compound crisis affecting the country for the past four months.  The Tajikistan Flash Appeal was developed in partnership with the Tajikistan Rapid Emergency Assessment and Coordination Team (REACT), through the collaborative efforts of the United Nations agencies and international and national humanitarian organisations present in the country.  The Appeal provides a framework for a common inter-agency understanding of priorities, based on identified and reported needs.  According to the Flash Appeal practice, this revision incorporates refined information, takes account of most recent developments and contains new projects designed to respond to additional effects of the crisis affecting Tajikistan since the launch of the original appeal.

The compound crisis in Tajikistan cannot be attributed to a single cause.  Rather, it reflects the effects of a combination of shocks on existing vulnerabilities that evolve and amplify each other.  A long series of shocks, including a cold winter of unprecedented length and severity, critical energy shortage, frozen crops, loss of seed stocks and livestock, sudden rise in temperatures in March, cyclical floods, landslides, mudslides and droughts, locust infestation, failed harvests and rapidly raising food prices has left the population with almost exhausted coping mechanisms. 

The extraordinarily long and cold winter initially triggered the crisis.  Temperatures of between -8°C and -25°C increased demand for heating while at the same time affecting the supply capacity.  The unusually heavy snowfalls and frozen rivers damaged water and electrical supply systems and isolated mountain villages.  The extremely cold weather was exacerbated by a dramatic plunge in electricity supply, due to a decline in water levels in the reservoir of the hydro-electric Nurek Power Plant.  The shortage led to severe rationing of electricity and sharp increases in the prices for fuel.  Power to industry has been tightly rationed, and the Government estimates that the crisis has so far cost the economy $850 million in damages and lost revenue.  On 31 January 2008 the Government of Tajikistan requested the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s assistance in mobilising international assistance.  The Flash Appeal was subsequently issued on 15 February 2008. 

The sudden rise in temperatures in mid-March, while easing some demands on power supplies, exposed the already vulnerable communities to new potential threats.  Snowfall in December 2007 was 245% above the historical average for the month.  The melting of these unusually heavy snow packs now presents a danger of even more extensive flash floods and landslides, a seasonal phenomenon in Tajikistan.  On 15 April, mudslides have already affected three villages in Jomi district, Khatlon province.  To prepare for the response to these potential new disasters, the humanitarian actors in-country have decided urgently to pre-position stocks of essential shelter and non-food items in the critical locations most at risk at being cut off in the event of floods and landslides.  This will require funding and procurement of emergency household packages to be stored in the UN Emergency Reserve in Tajikistan, and its regional hubs positioned in the most vulnerable locations.  To supplement these packages, a system-wide inventory has been established of other essential supplies available in-country, such as emergency food rations and water and sanitation equipment ready to be re-directed to flood victims in case of need.  Assessments have indicated that the energy crisis, heavy snowfall and increased number of avalanches are having adverse effects on the logistics situations and relief deliveries.  It is anticipated that the spring melt and potential mudslides and landslides may present additional logistical challenges.

The economic and social shocks as a result of the cold winter and energy crisis have worsened an already precarious food security situation, especially in rural areas.  The currently ongoing inter-agency food security and livelihoods assessment will reveal the extent of the food crisis in the country, with a view to a medium and long-term strategy.  Two consecutive poor harvests, freezing temperatures causing loss of seed stocks and cattle, combined with doubling food prices in recent months, have left rural populations with few remaining coping strategies.  While seasonal flooding can be expected, a drought is also being predicted during the summer.  Almost the entire irrigation and drinking water is provided by water pumps on the riverbeds or the tube wells, both relying on electricity, which in many parts of the country is still limited to a couple of hours a day.  With the absence of and lack of access to alternative fuel, water pumps provide only a fraction of the irrigation required at this time of the year.  With very little rain falling on both the irrigated and rain-fed crops, the grains are failing to grow properly.  The latest additional new threat to the spring and summer harvests, is the particularly early and severe locust infestation, affecting one third of the agricultural territory of Tajikistan.  The stocks of pesticides in Tajikistan have been exhausted and need to be replenished urgently to combat the threat of locust. 

The compound disaster is taking place in the context of rising food prices and other basic household items.  The result is a recovery framework which is significantly more complex than in many other disaster situations.  This Revised Flash Appeal seeks to stimulate and support early recovery by creating an integrated early recovery plan and network to restore basic services, infrastructure and livelihood opportunities where they are critically needed. 

The emergency response is managed through REACT, Tajikistan’s Disaster Management Partnership comprising civil society, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan and United Nations.  Following the launch of the Flash Appeal, a Cluster Approach was adopted in Tajikistan, building on the earlier sectoral groups within REACT, for which UN agencies and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) provide coordination support.  Rapid assessments were carried out by the involved clusters, namely food security, water and sanitation, education, logistics, and shelter and non-food items (NFIs). 

The results of assessments show that cumulatively, the health, lives and livelihoods of two million Tajiks have been affected by this compound crisis and require urgent assistance.  The cluster-specific response plans in this document indicate how REACT partners plan to respond to the needs identified in the assessments, on which the priorities have been based.  Given the above, the appeal makes a distinction between interventions that address immediate life-saving needs and interventions that are needed urgently to avert or mitigate foreseeable and preventable life-threatening situations during spring and summer.  More specifically:

To address the possibility of extensive flooding

  1. Reinforce capacity to warn of flood and landslide events.
  2. Increase in-country capacity to provide critical shelter and livelihoods commodities following floods/landslides by pre-positioning stocks of life-saving non-food items in locations most at risk of spring flooding. 

To address the food crisis

  1. Increase food supplies through direct assistance.
  2. Increase the economic means to acquire food.
  3. Combat locust infestation through provision of pesticides and equipment. 

To address the energy crisis

  1. Assure adequate electrical power and water for critical health care services and mass-care facilities.
  2. Assure minimally adequate supplies of water for urban populations and rural populations dependent on reticulated systems. 
  3. Assure adequate access to water, food and other basic commodities for vulnerable urban populations.

This appeal seeks $26,803,384 to help international partners (sevenUnited Nations agencies and five international NGOs) support the Government of Tajikistan in addressing the needs of two million people already affected by the compound crisis, as well as to undertake preparedness measures for potential flooding during the spring melt.  Partners have indicated that $12.8 million is already available for their proposed projects, leaving an outstanding requirement of $14 million.  Funding for the emergency humanitarian needs in this Flash Appeal has also been sought from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).  The planning horizon for is six months, from 15 February to 15 August, while concerted efforts will be made to mobilise longer-term programmes for recovery.  Regular assessments will be undertaken to ensure that the planned preparedness and response actions and the resources being sought for them remain relevant, timely and effective.  The appeal will be regularly updated to reflect new needs as the situation evolves.

[1]All dollar signs in the document denote United States dollars.  Funding for this Flash Appeal should be reported to the Financial Tracking Service (FTS, 


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8 May 2008

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