Tajikistan -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
More than 80 percent of Tajikistan’s population lives below poverty line.
A former Soviet republic, Tajikistan gained independence in 1991, but plunged immediately into political turmoil and a civil war that lasted until 1997. In the years of tenuous peace, Tajikistan’s economy has had difficulties recovering and the country has struggled to lift itself out of extreme poverty. Most of the population struggles by on subsistence agriculture and the money sent by family members working abroad. Many people depend on the humanitarian aid for survival. More than 80 percent of the population lives below poverty line.
Due to the war and the ensuing economic collapse, practically all house building has come to a halt. Many unfinished homes are scattered all across Tajikistan while the existing housing stock deteriorates because of neglect. Families live in houses made of raw brick or clay with dirt floors. With no income for repairs and upkeep, these homes quickly deteriorate. In cities, several generations live together in tiny apartments where heating and sanitation are often absent and water must be drawn from communal wells.
Habitat in Tajikistan
Habitat for Humanity got involved in Tajikistan in 1999, two years after the end of the country’s civil war. In partnership with Shelter for Life International, HFH has been building in the southern and northern regions of the war-torn country. In November 2003, a community group in the northern city of Khujand was officially welcomed on board as the newest Central Asian affiliate.
The first housing project that Habitat for Humanity undertook was in response to the needs of resettling the families forced away from their homes during the civil war. One particular focus of HFH’s work has been to stem immigration to the West of the educated professionals who had better chances abroad, but impoverished Tajikistan needed their skills and knowledge. Thus the first 15 houses were built with families of doctors and teachers—two professional categories that are seriously underpaid in Tajikistan. HFH later continued to build in partnership with low-income families of all backgrounds.
After the success of the building project in the south, local families in the northern city of Khujand expressed the wish to partner with Habitat. Moreover, the local government provided HFH with good land and easy access to infrastructure. Khujand already has a considerable community of Habitat homeowners and new homes are under construction on what has come to be called “Habitat Street.” In addition to constructing new houses, HFH Tajikistan also works on building shells left abandoned since Soviet times.
Khujand local government has already donated three such unfinished buildings that became homes for ten families in need. In construction HFH uses materials available in the region, such as fired brick and stone. When building, they also have to take into consideration that the region is prone to earthquakes.
• HFH Khujand hosted its first Global Village team.
• Local government in Khujand donated land where 80 new homes will be built.
• HFH Tajikistan raised $37,000 from local donors.