For the second consecutive year Tajikistan faces a severe drought compounded by the difficulties of a fragile post-conflict peace-building process, lack of own resources and hence economic progress as well as by the negative implications of current regional developments. All these factors are causing a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Tajikistan. Following the 23 May 2001 Presidential Appeal and official assessment missions of FAO/WFP, UNICEF and the IFRC, the UN Country Team in Tajikistan decided to provide a brief update on the overall humanitarian situation and progress made within the framework of the 2001 Consolidated Appeal (CA) for consideration by the donor community. This document and the preceding exercise are also part of the preparation process for the 2002 CAP.
Through this update, the international community is alerted to an emerging potential disaster, particularly in the coming winter months, and requested to provide desperately needed contributions between now and the end of the year. In view of the severe under funding of the standing 2001 Appeal, donors are called upon to financially respond to this document. Substantial additional contributions will be required to support the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable until the first contributions against the 2002 CA can be expected. While some food aid contributions have been received, there is a significant shortfall of 49,000 MT of food commodities, which, if not met urgently, could have disastrous implications. The WFP/FAO Crop and Food Supply assessment mission of last July recommended the provision of 90,500 MT of food aid to meet the most urgent needs of one million severely affected people, in particular those living in remote, mountainous and marginalized areas, between October 2001 and June 2002.
In addition, certain sectors such as health and nutrition, water and sanitation, and education remain severely under funded or have received no funding whatsoever. There is an urgent need to address the critical requirements of these important sectors in order to avoid the adverse social and economic impact of drought on the whole society. The requirements for these critical sectors, which also have longer-term implications, will also be included in the 2002 CAP.
2. The Current Humanitarian Situation
Land-locked Tajikistan is passing through a second year of a devastating drought and crop failure, a consequence of unfavorable climatic conditions that have exacerbated the already existing structural underlying factors and deteriorating economic conditions. Similar to last year, this year's rain fed wheat crops have failed in most places and the production on irrigated land has been lower than last year's level, resulting in serious food shortages. Cereal production in 2001 is estimated at 303,000 MT, 15% less than last year's level and 36% less than the average of the last five years. Other precarious features of the humanitarian situation include limited access to clean drinking water and poor sanitation resulting in a sharp increase in water-borne and related diseases, such as diarrhoea, typhoid and malaria. In addition to the severe drought conditions, obsolete irrigation systems and the general state of decline in the agricultural sector are contributing to the severity of the crisis. It is estimated over one million people in Tajikistan require urgent assistance to meet their basic survival needs as a result of the drought.
3. International Response to Drought in 2001
On 23 May 2001, the President of Tajikistan appealed to the UN Secretary-General, the Director-General of FAO, the US President, the German Chancellor, the Canadian Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Commission of the European Union for humanitarian assistance. The main aim of this Appeal was to request assistance to avert the consequences of an unprecedented drought affecting Tajikistan. Following the Presidential Appeal, the United Nations agencies have undertaken measures to address the urgent humanitarian needs triggered by the protracted drought conditions. The FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (21 June - 3 July 2001) visited 30 of the 58 districts, including all the worst affected areas in the border regions and mountainous districts, in three of the country's four provinces. The mission confirmed that Tajikistan is facing a serious food deficit due to drought. The mission reported that reduced rainfall in 2000 and 2001 has further exacerbated the adverse conditions of the agricultural sector. The import requirements for 2000/2001 are estimated at 784,000 MT, of which 43,000 MT are already pledged by the donor community and 400,000 MT are expected to be provided through commercial imports. This leaves a gap of 341,000 MT. A shortfall of this magnitude for this impoverished country, if not addressed by the international community, could have disastrous implications, particularly for the most vulnerable population living in the remote rainfed border areas and the mountainous regions of the country.
On 21 August the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an appeal requesting CHF 6,795,218 to cover the emergency food and non-food needs of some 130,000 badly affected people.
WFP is currently utilizing the resources received thus far to support the most vulnerable segment of the population. While WFP is expecting the arrival of recently pledged food aid, it is urgently seeking international assistance towards the shortfall in the 2001 CA in order to ensure a smooth relief distribution during the most difficult months in the coming winter. Additional requirements for next year will be outlined in the 2002 CA.
UNICEF undertook a multi-disciplinary drought assessment mission in Tajikistan in July of this year. Based on the findings of this assessment mission, UNICEF has developed a proposal entitled "Recovery Plan for Women and Children Affected by a Worsening Drought Situation in Tajikistan". The proposal presents an integrated package of basic services in the following sectors: Water and Environmental Sanitation; Health and Nutrition; Education; Psychosocial Needs of Vulnerable Children. The proposal covers a three-year period and its total financial requirements amount to US$ 6,867,500.
4. Conclusion and Donor Alert
The United Nations Country Team for Tajikistan calls upon the international community for urgent and generous contributions to the standing 2001 Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal, which, as of 31 August 2001 was only for 35 % funded (please refer to the attached tables for details). Whilst the UN is very much appreciative for the contributions to food aid programs and coordination, there is serious concern over the severe under funding of vital nonfood sectors, affecting the ability of the humanitarian community to meet the needs of the population.
It can not be excluded that the recent tragic events in the USA and the killing of the Northern Alliance Military Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud will have severe implications for the region as a whole and for Tajikistan in particular, being a frontline state. Given the potentially serious consequences for Tajikistan of what might occur in the region and in the interest of regional stability, it is of particular importance that the United Nations system in Tajikistan is provided with the resources to respond to the current crisis and a possible further deterioration of humanitarian conditions. The United Nations Country Team in Tajikistan will revert to the donor community in more detail on ongoing contingency planning and emergency preparedness activities and the need for additional resources to respond to various scenarios and situations.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Valentin Gatzinski
Head of Office
OCHA Dushanbe - Tajikistan
Tel: + 992 372 210 680
Mr. Matthew Kahane
UN Resident / Humanitarian Coordinator
Dushanbe - Tajikistan
Tel: + 992 372 210 680
Mr. Ivo Freijsen
Humantarian Affairs Officer
Europe and Central Asia Section
RCB / OCHA Geneva
Tel: + 41 22 9171695
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