Tajikistan Compound Crises Flash Appeal 2008
Abnormally cold weather conditions in Tajikistan, causing heavy snowfall and frozen rivers, have damaged water and electrical supply systems and isolated mountain villages. Snowfall in December 2007 was 245% above the historical average for the month. Temperatures of between -8°C and -25°C since the beginning of 2008 have increased demand for heating while at the same time affecting the supply capacity. This has led to severe rationing of electricity and sharp increases in the prices for fuel.
Complicating the situation is a decline in the water level in the reservoir of the hydro-electric Nurek Power Plant (which currently produces 60% of the national electricity supply). It is estimated that in a few days the water level in the dam will be insufficient for normal power production, reducing again dramatically the availability of electricity in Tajikistan. The Government has made tremendous efforts to secure additional energy supplies and has prioritised electricity supply on humanitarian grounds. In Dushanbe power is already cut at least 14 hours a day and in most rural areas electricity supply has been cut off completely.
Roads between several districts have been blocked by heavy snowfall, curtailing local supplies of food, fuel and other basic commodities as well as access to health services. The economic and social shocks as a result of the current cold weather have worsened an already precarious food security situation, especially in rural areas. Two consecutive poor harvests, combined with doubling food prices in recent months, have left rural populations with few remaining coping strategies. Power to industry has been tightly rationed, and the Government estimates that the crisis has so far cost the economy US$850 million in damages and lost revenue. A final cause of concern is that with such abnormal levels of snow precipitation in all areas of the country, flooding in spring will almost certainly be more extensive this year.
The crisis developing in Tajikistan cannot be attributed to a single cause, but is rather the effect of a combination of interlocking shocks that have left the population in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The slow-onset nature of the crisis is being accelerated by the imminent plunge in electricity supply. On 31 January 2008 the Government of Tajikistan requested the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s assistance in mobilising international assistance.
The emergency response is managed through Rapid Emergency Assessment and Coordination Team (REACT), Tajikistan’s Disaster Management Partnership comprising civil society, NGOs, the Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan and United Nations. Following the global cluster approach, REACT is subdivided into sectoral groups 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 sectors, namely water and sanitation, health, food, education and shelter and non-food items. A Rapid Response Coordination Team was used to process the work of the sectoral groups into this flash appeal and provide the link to the UN Resident Coordinator.
The results of the REACT 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 sector-specific response plans in this document indicate how REACT partners plan to respond to the needs identified in the assessments. The priorities have been based on the results of the rapid assessment. 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 energy crisis
- Assure adequate electrical power and water for critical health care services and mass-care facilities.
- Assure minimally adequate supplies of water for urban populations.
- Assure adequate access to heat, water, food and other basic commodities for vulnerable urban populations.
To address the food crisis
- Increase food supplies through direct assistance.
- Increase the economic means to acquire food
To address the possibility of extensive flooding
- Reinforce capacity to warn of flood and landslide events.
- Increase in-country capacity to provide critical shelter and livelihoods commodities following floods/landslides.
This appeal seeks $25,303,587 to help international partners (seven United Nations agencies and five international NGOs) support the Government of Tajikistan in addressing the needs of two million people already affected by the compound crises, as well as to undertake preparedness measures for potential flooding in Rash Valley and Khatlon Province during the spring melt. Partners have indicated that $338,911 is already available for their proposed projects, leaving an outstanding requirement of $24,853,928. Funding for the emergency humanitarian needs in this Flash Appeal is also being sought from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). Targeted assistance will be provided during the next six months, 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.