Appeal to avert famine in Tajikistan

Originally published
Geneva, 19 September 2000
Half of the Tajik population is facing famine because of severe drought and the Red Cross Red Crescent is attempting the avert it. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies today launched an appeal for 22.6 million Swiss francs to assist 250,000 people affected by the drought in Tajikistan for eight months. The funds will be used to provide urgent needed food and seeds to 200,000 people in the southern Khatlon oblast and 50,000 people in the Leninabad oblast in the north.

"People are not starving today, but in a few weeks time the situation will be different. We have to take our responsibility now and prevent a huge famine before it is too late," says Roger Bracke, leader of the Federation assessment and coordination team which recently visited the worst affected areas.

This is the worst drought in Tajikistan for 74 years - there has been no rain for more than five months. This year's harvest is worse than the two previous ones which were also weak. According to a recent assessment by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), around three million people - almost half the population of Tajikistan - will soon be facing severe problems getting access to food.

"People's coping mechanisisms are very limited, and they will not get through the harsh winter without external assisance," says Dr. Inomzoda, president of the Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan. "The priority is for farmers, who were growing wheat on non-irrigated land, and multichildren families without a breadwinner. These people need urgent relief assistance," he adds.

The Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan, with the assistance of the Federation, plans to provide beneficiaries with wheat flour ( to make bread) and oil for eight months. The plan of action includes provision of 100 kilograms of seeds per family for the next season, so that they can plant 0.5 hectares each. The Federation is closely collaborating with WFP and FAO on the procurement and distribution of the food and seeds and intensive consultations are currently taking place with these partners.

To complement the distributions, the programme has a health component, including chlorination of drinking water to make it clean and public awareness campaigns focussing on diarrhoea, typhiod and malaria. All activities will be complemented with a component to train counterparts and to strengthen the capacity of the Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan.

For further information please contact:

Dushanbe: Martti Hietalahti, Head of Delegation,
mobile tel. +7 3007444331
as of 22 September: tel. +992372 245981 / +992372 244296

Lotta Relander, Development Delegate,
tel. +992372 245981 / +992372 244296
Satellite phone: + 873 761 84 64 25

Almaty:Ilmira Gafiatullina, Regional Information Delegate,
mobile tel. +7 3007444331

Geneva: Irma Lubbinge, Information Officer,
tel. + 41 22 7304570 / + 41 79 4163881