Tajikistan: Cold Wave Emergency Appeal No. MDRTJ004 Final Report

Situation Report
Originally published


GLIDE No. CW-2008-000015-TJK

Period covered by this Final Report: 6 March to 31 August 2008.

Appeal target (current): CHF 572,678 (USD 500,155 or EUR 392,245);

Final Appeal coverage: 86 per cent with a DREF allocation of CHF 172,062;

Appeal history:

- This emergency appeal was launched on 6 March 2008 for CHF 572,678 (USD 500,155 or EUR 392,245) for 6 months to assist 5,097 beneficiaries.

- CHF 172,062 was initially allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the National Society in delivering immediate assistance to 2,149 beneficiaries through the distribution of nonfood items and around 3,000 families through hygiene promotion. The DREF operation focussed on the urban population and the emergency appeal on rural population. The total number of beneficiaries is therefore 7,246 people, plus 3,000 families who received health promotion materials.

Summary: The initial DREF operation was extended to an emergency appeal operation to include the distribution of basic relief non-food items to female-headed families with children under 15 years of age (1,547 households) and elderly people (456) living alone in Rudaky and Vahdat districts. The planned activities were successfully completed; each beneficiary received a food package containing wheat flour, sunflower oil and beans to supplement the food they had in the stock and help sustain them through the planting phase of cultivating next season's crop.

The Tajikistan Red Crescent Society also improved the coping mechanisms of the rural population in two districts by providing them with potato, carrot, bean and onion seeds and with two types of fertilizers. Proper hygiene practices were promoted among the population of two targeted districts through information materials. The purification tablets, hygiene kits, jerry cans and water filters delivered to beneficiaries helped to reduce the risk of waterborne and other communicable diseases in the poor sanitary conditions.

The operation has received financial and in-kind contributions from the Red Cross Societies of Belgium, Canada, Finland, Japan, Monaco and Sweden and the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates.

The situation

Tajikistan experienced its worst winter in 44 years this year. January and February temperatures averaged minus 15=B0 Celsius; the usual average temperature is between minus 1=B0C to plus 3=B0C. Such uncommonly cold, and precipitous, weather lasted until mid-February.

Tight rationing of power for industry and factories led to the crisis that cost the economy 850 million US dollars worth of damage and lost revenue according to the UN Tajikistan Flash Appeal 2008. Many urban workers lost one month's income as businesses shut following the tight rationing of electricity. The power limitations on most residential areas of Dushanbe, and even a complete cut off of electricity in the majority of rural areas kept many people in the dark for much of the winter.

The exceptionally cold winter caused breakdowns in electric, gas and water services across the country. Essential services were also affected with many health facilities and schools forced to close. The lack of electricity for water pumps forced people to use unprotected water sources, contributing to the poor sanitation and hygiene conditions. Heating was limited in urban areas while the price of heating materials increased.

The severe cold also damaged crops and seeds, contributing to increased morbidity and mortality among livestock. High food prices, combined with the poor agricultural harvests of 2007, forced many households to sell their remaining assets of production to purchase food and medicines.

A locust invasion further stretched the capacities of households to successfully cope with their increasing food insecurity. While Tajikistan characteristically loses up to 30 percent of its harvests due to pests- this is recognized as one of main threats to food security- the recent outbreak was of a significantly larger scale.

The cold winter was followed by record high temperatures in spring and summer; significantly higher than normal across the country. According to Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) analysis it is estimated the dry/hot conditions have caused a 40 per cent reduction in agricultural output. Grain harvest totals for 2008 are down between 30 percent and 40 percent over the previous year. The losses have reached 40 per cent at the national level for fruit and wines, 35 per cent for potatoes, 30 per cent for wheat and 20 per cent for vegetables.

The price of bread and cooking oil has doubled, while prices for most other basic commodities have increased by 50 per cent. 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 per cent reduction in growth during the first quarter of 2008, further reducing people's livelihood opportunities.

Joint (WFP, FAO, UNICEF) food security, livelihoods, agriculture and nutrition needs assessments conducted at the end of April in rural areas and in June in urban areas, found some 2.2 million people (34 per cent of the rural population and 37 per cent of the urban population) to be food insecure, of which approximately 800,000 people were severely food insecure (including a very poor food intake) and required immediate support to ensure a minimum adequate level of nutrition. Almost one-third of Tajikistan's 6.7 million inhabitants may not have enough to eat this winter, United Nations experts worry. In an attempt to avert an emergency, on 25 September the UN issued a global appeal for nearly 35 million US dollars to provide a temporary food safety net for 800,000 of the most vulnerable people in Tajikistan until the end of next year.