Tajikistan Humanitarian Food Security Appeal 2008-2009

25 September 2008

Tajikistan has experienced a series of economic, environmental, and social shocks over the last two years, which have increased food insecurity and reduced the capacity of the most vulnerable to deal with further shocks. 

Beginning in 2007, the food security status of rural populations began to deteriorate markedly due to rising fuel prices, which in turn led to higher transportation and food costs across the country.  Continued drought in the spring and summer of 2007 and a locust invasion in 2008 further stretched the capacities of households to successfully cope with their increasing food insecurity. 

Against the backdrop of increased food insecurity in early 2008, Tajikistan experienced the worst winter in 44 years[1].  Heavy snowfall isolated communities and severe weather hampered travel between major commercial centres.  Temperatures ranged from -15°C to -25°C for extended periods.  The exceptionally cold weather caused breakdowns in the country’s aged energy infrastructure and water supply systems.  Heating was limited in urban areas while the price of heating increased in rural areas.  Essential services were also affected with many health facilities and schools forced to close. 

The combined effects and impact of these conditions on vulnerable populations was particularly acute.   The price of bread and cooking oil doubled during this period, while prices for most other basic commodities increased by 50%.  The cost of petrol, diesel, gas, and electricity has also been rising steadily since last autumn.  The economic impact was also severe, with an estimated 50% reduction in growth during the first quarter of 2008, further reducing people’s livelihood opportunities[2]

In response, an appeal for US$[3] 25 million was launched in February 2008 to cover the needs of two million people.  By August 2008, a total of $14 million was mobilised in response to the appeal, including some $5.6 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).  A further 21 million was raised outside the framework of the appeal.  The response activities carried out with this funding helped to alleviate suffering, sustain minimum essential services, mitigate further disease outbreaks and avoid further deterioration in nutritional status.  Concurrently, the government of Tajikistan engaged in multi-lateral negotiations with neighboring countries for fuel assistance. 

The coldest winter in 44 years was followed by record high temperatures in spring and summer.  The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) data show that from April onwards, temperatures, across the country have been significantly higher than normal.  According to Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) analysis it is estimated the dry/hot conditions will cause a 40% reduction in agricultural output in 2008. 

Joint food security, livelihoods, agriculture and nutrition needs assessments conducted at the end of April in rural areas and in June 2008 in urban areas, found some 2.2 million people (34% of the rural population and 37% of the urban population) to be food insecure, of which approximately 800,000 are severely food insecure (including a very poor food intake) and require immediate support to ensure a minimally adequate level of nutrition. 

The appeal has been prepared in consultation with the Government of Tajikistan, donors, and jointly by the UN agencies and NGOs involved in relief activities.  The immediate aim of the appeal is to provide a temporary safety net to the most vulnerable poor people in urban and rural areas through the provision of food and cash.  The appeal also aims to avoid a prolonged relief situation by supporting the agriculture sector through the next planting and harvest cycle and the rehabilitation of critical infrastructure. 

While the food security situation is the most immediate concern and the focus of the present appeal, additional funding may be later required to fill gaps in the Government’s plan of action for the winter and to deal with the potential humanitarian impacts of continuing drought conditions.  A multi-sectoral preparedness plan is being developed and early warning indicators are being closely monitored.  This will feed into the regular monitoring of the response to the humanitarian needs and the appeal will be expanded to reflect new needs if necessary.  With its current focus mainly on food security, this is not a classic consolidated appeal, but may be converted into one if and when other sector plans are added.

The duration of the appeal is 15 months, from October 2008 to December 2009, and the total amount needed is $34,746,555.  Funding for the emergency humanitarian needs in this Humanitarian Appeal is also being sought from the CERF.   

[1]Tajik Hydro-Meteorological Agency.

[2]IMF Country Report No.  08/197 June 2008.

[3]All dollar signs in this document denote United States dollars.   Funding for this appeal should be reported to the Financial Tracking Service (FTS, fts@reliefweb.int), which will display its requirements and funding on the CAP 2008 page.


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25 September 2008

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