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Assistance to Tajikistan OCHA Situation Update No. 10

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Situation Report
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Posted
Originally published
GENERAL
The Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal (CAP) for Tajikistan 2002 was officially launched in Tokyo on the 27th of November. The Appeal seeks a total of US$ 76 million for programmes and projects in the following sectors: food security, health and nutrition, water and environmental sanitation, education, reintegration, coordination and security. In line with the theme of the 2002 CAP - "Reaching the Vulnerable" - the strategic goals for Tajikistan will address the sustainable improvement of food security, the improvement of primary health care and basic social services as well as social rehabilitation and capacity building at community level. The strategy and projects in the Appeal aim to reach 1.36 million people.

At a meeting on 24 November, President Rakhmonov warned ministers and government officials that the number of complaints on the part of international organisations in relation to the embezzlement and misuse of funds provided for infrastructure development had increased. Following investigations conducted by the National Finance Control Committee and the discovery of serious offences, the President dismissed the Director of the Centre for the Mitigation of Effects of Natural Disasters and the Director of the Education Project Unit. The meeting was attended by representatives of international organisations and financial institutions working in Tajikistan.

NEW DEVELOPMENTS

As of 5 December, the Government of Tajikistan no longer requires special permissions to use international crossing points between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Only a 48-hour notification to the Protocol section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be necessary for international staff and one week for national staff to cross through all three existing points (Ishkashim, Farkhor/Kokul and Nizhni Pyanj), effectively enhancing the ability of international organisations to deliver humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. The decision will not affect the measures in place for visits to the "islands" along the Pyanj River where about 10,000 Afghans are stranded, as there is no official crossing there. The abolition of the permission to use international crossings places Tajikistan in the lead among its neighbours in the facilitation of the international concerted effort for Afghanistan.

AFGHANISTAN CRISIS

On proposal of OCHA, the Coordination Group on Humanitarian Operations (CGHO) from Tajikistan to Afghanistan, the body recently set up by the President to manage humanitarian operations with respect to Afghanistan, fielded a mission to the port of Nizhni Pyanj on the Tajik-Afghan border to assess the port's operational status and to meet representatives of the newly established provincial authorities in Kunduz. The assessment pointed to the need for an urgent and coordinated effort in the allocation of financial, logistical and communication resources to make the port operational especially as it appears that local authorities cannot afford the investment, small as it is. WFP is supporting the general rehabilitation of the facilities; OCHA has already provided 10.5 tonnes of fuel and pledged a portable sat phone, while the German Government is expected to provide an additional barge to the one mentioned in the last report. During the visit, discussions with the Afghan counterparts have highlighted the need to plan and field a de-mining team in Kunduz province as well as an inter-agency assessment mission soon after. On 4 December one of the barges was tested and successfully transported across the river one vehicle which then proceeded for 15 km on to Konduz and was able to verify the good condition of the road.

WFP has started airlifts of food aid from the airport of Kulyab, in southern Tajikistan. Since the 23 November 11 flights have taken place for a total delivery of 176 MT of wheat flour to Faizabad in North eastern Afghanistan. Since then the airlifts have stopped due to bad weather conditions. In ideal conditions the aircraft is able to carry out 6 rotations per day.

ONGOING ACTIVITIES

Preliminary results of the country-wide nutritional survey implemented, among others, by CARE and AAH were presented at the latest food coordination meeting. A detailed analysis and final report will be released 17 December. The survey is based around a sample of 900 households from each region by using numbering process and weight for height parameter. Results have shown deterioration in the nutritional status of children under 5 as well as caretakers with figures for acute/severe and global malnutrition worsening since last year. The region around Kurgan-Tyube, south of the capital, proved to be the worse affected.

Initial results have also been released by OXFAM GB of the food security assessment conducted in Khatlon oblast. Compared to the Action Against Hunger drought assessment carried out in September 2000, Oxfam GB found that household foods security has continued to steadily decline. A majority of households have food stocks for less than one month at the beginning of the hunger gap. Traditional coping mechanisms are exhausted for the most vulnerable families who are dependent on petty trading and food aid. However, food aid is not reaching all of the vulnerable households due to the system of distributing it through the Jamoat, who are under pressure to divert the aid to family and friends. Many households have not planted winter wheat as the last two crops produced such low yields, with the implication that come the April/May harvest they will not replenish their food stocks. Even with the end to the drought, it would take years for households to replenish their assets and re-establish the livelihoods affected by the drought.

Following an increasing number of requests from local authorities and different agencies, WFP is looking for a focal agency to resume interventions in institutions for the vulnerable (elderly, orphans, etc.). As past experience has shown that direct food donations to these facilities could have negative effects by creating a "pull factor", WFP agreed to consider carefully the matter and further explore the targeted provision of assistance.

The Humanitarian Coordinator chaired a meeting with IFRC, UNICEF, WFP and some of its implementing partners to share views and experiences on Food for Work programmes in Tajikistan and look at the possibility of designing programmes that could maximise results in the drinking water supply and irrigation systems. Water and its management are considered a priority in the country and, particularly NGOs, feel that there is scope to increase synergies across sectors through the implementation of complementary projects which would have a more sustainable impact. For the first step, under the auspices of UNICEF, a comprehensive collection of information on the activities past, present and planned of the international community is taking place. Once consolidated, the information will be mapped against the efforts of the relevant government counterparts so that areas of potential intervention could be identified.

In a follow-up meeting to the Regional Seminar on Drought Mitigation that took place in Tehran in August, participants from Tajikistan discussed steps and actions to be taken in order to implement the recommendations made in summer. At the meeting, which saw the participation of representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Emergency (MES), IFRC, National Red Crescent Society, UNDP, WFP and OCHA, it was agreed that the MES would apply to the Government of Tajikistan with a request to establish a National Commission with the purpose of developing a national strategy on drought mitigation. Set up with representatives from relevant government ministries and agencies, the Commission would have to develop both drought alleviation as well as preparedness plans and is most likely going to request financial support from the international community.

It appears that the harsh winter will cause many schools to remain closed for a longer holiday break as the provisions of heating fuel will not last long enough to cover all the cold season. As assessed by IFRC, Tajikistan has a global seasonal requirement for 5,000 MT of coal to keep education facilities warm. The Government is unable to support adequately this need and it is possible that schoolchildren in the more mountainous areas could stay at home for up to three months this year. In the region of Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), schools and kindergartens have only been able to collect half of the requirement for firewood necessary for the coming winter; some schools are also lacking heating stoves.

The IFRC, in collaboration with the Tajikistan Red Crescent Society (TRCS) intend to distribute up to 24,000 pairs of shoes to target schoolchildren in the region of GBAO: this will only cover 40% of the overall needs. The TRCS is also currently providing two hot meals per day in all of the schools in the region with food from WFP. UNICEF has allocated US$ 30,000 for the procurement of coal for schools rehabilitated under the UNDP/RRDP programme in five districts of the Rasht valley.

Coordination activities in the health sector for the region of Khatlon were given a boost with the presentation by the Head of WHO of activities of international humanitarian actors in the region to the local authorities. During the period 200-2001 approximately US$ 4 million have been spent mostly by ECHO implementing partners in the health sector with programmes ranging from the provision of treatment to the supply of medicines, from training of health workers to rehabilitation of health facilities. The Minister of Health thanked the work of the organizations and expressed the wish for increased coordination and integration, especially by NGOs, with the local department of Health in order to set common strategies and target appropriately donors' funds.

As part of the International Campaign "16 days against violence", UNIFEM has conducted radio programmes on the station "Sadoi Dushanbe" including a programme on men questioned about violence and interviews with the First Deputy General Prosecutor and the author of a UNIFEM-sponsored book and war and women.

RELATIONS/NEGOTIATIONS WITH TAJIK GOVERNMENT

Following the visit of the French Minister at Large for Cooperation and Francophony, the Government of Tajikistan has agreed to allow France to station fighter-bombers on its territory for the duration of the antiterrorist campaign. It appears that Italy has been granted similar rights. A Ministry of Security spokesman said that most likely the facilities to be used would be either the Khojand or Kulyab airfields. Meanwhile the Russian EMERCOM has struck a deal with Tajikistan to station 5 helicopters in the airport of Kurgan Tyube, where also a fleet of trucks will be positioned to carry out the transportation of cargo to the Russian Humanitarian base in Kabul. It is not clear yet whether the US Air Force will also decide to use air facilities in Tajikistan.

PLEDGES AND CONTRIBUTIONS

Germany's Red Cross will provide food aid for some 130,000 Tajiks facing starvation in the country's mountainous northern regions. The aid supplies, funded by the German government and worth some 240,000 US$, will include food and first-aid packages and should last the target group until June next year.

The US Ambassador to Tajikistan presented on 5 December a donation worth over US$ 800,000 of wheat seed and fertilizer to help 24,000 drought-affected families. The donation, financed by USAID, includes 680 MT of high-quality winter wheat seed procured from Kazakhstan and 2,090 MT of fertilizer for wheat and potatoes obtained from Uzbekistan. CARE, AAH, Acted, IFRC, MCI, Caritas, the Agha Khan Foundation, Save the Children-US and the WFP will distribute these commodities to families in Khatlon, Badakhshan and capital regions.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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