ANKARA, 13 September (IRIN) - Tajikistan needs more than US $21 million worth of assistance to deal with the damage caused by natural disasters this year, according to an emergency official.
"This year there have been many natural disasters in Tajikistan, especially in mountain regions, and roads, bridges and arable land has been damaged," Khilol Shamsuddinov, head of the Tajik disaster relief coordination centre, told IRIN from the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, on Monday.
According to the disaster relief centre, areas including Penjikent town, Ayni, Varzob districts and parts of Moskovski and Vosei districts suffered most from floods and mudslides caused by torrential rains earlier this year.
"River bank rehabilitation work has hardly been done over the past 10 years due to the economic crisis in the country, and as a result river bank protection facilities deteriorated, which causes much trouble for us," Shamsuddinov maintained.
In an effort to address the issue, the Tajik government allocated some $4 million but it was insufficient, the Tajik official said. More than $21 million was needed to deal with the damage caused by natural disasters this year and the government had appealed to the United Nations (UN) and international donors for assistance, he added.
In July, Dushanbe appealed to the international community for assistance to deal with the damage caused by floods and mudslides. Moreover, the Emergency Ministry submitted some investment projects on river bank protection worth around $11 million, Shamsuddinov noted.
However, much more will be needed to rehabilitate all the river banks in the country, work that is aimed at mitigating the risk of disaster. "If this work is not done the situation will worsen year by year because bank protection infrastructure is being worn out and there is no [proper] maintenance," Shamsuddinov warned, adding that assistance from the donor community had yet to be seen.
Meanwhile, the UN is working closely with the Tajik emergency ministry to develop a long-term plan with a comprehensive database, comprehensive risk assessment and with an overall increase in the ministry's capacity both to respond to disasters and to plan in the longer term to deal with them better, Johannes Chudoba, head of the UN coordination unit in Tajikistan, told IRIN. The project plan on the issue is expected to be completed by the end of September.
Tajikistan is prone to various natural disasters, including landslides, avalanches, floods and earthquakes. According to the World Bank, each year the mountainous Central Asian state experiences around 50,000 landslides, some 5,000 tremors and earthquakes, and hundreds of avalanches and debris flows. These natural disasters exacerbate poverty and hinder economic progress in the impoverished country, where more than 80 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line.
According to the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), natural disasters, including landslides, floods and earthquakes, have killed about 2,500 people and affected some 5.5 million (almost 10 percent of the total population) in Central Asia over the past decade.
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