Overexploitation of land exacerbates poverty and increases the risk of disasters
Poverty, population pressure and unsustainable agriculture and forestry practices increase the frequency of hazardous natural events. Cropland has been degraded as a result of years of overexploitation to produce maximum yields, and pastureland has been overgrazed to the point where it can no longer sustain livestock.
Tajik families often find themselves in a vicious circle of having to eke out the highest possible yield from small plots of land to survive. The constant shortage of electricity forces people to clear forests for firewood and to rely on cow dug as an alternative source of energy instead of putting it to better use as a fertilizer. Overexploited soils absorb less water, leading to erosion, landslides and mudslides and consequently the loss of fertile land.
Sustainable land management as a way out of poverty
The goal is to reduce the risk of natural disasters over the long-term and to realise the integrated management of the Obishur and Chukurak watersheds. Alongside preventive measures such as levees and drainage canals, this goal is to be achieved through sustainable land management. This includes crop and pasture rotation, reforestation, the use of energy-efficient cooking and heating stoves and water heaters, and the establishment of committees to coordinate livestock grazing to protect pastureland.
The second phase of the project, which is currently under way, has the following objectives:
- Equipped with the know-how required for the sustainable management of natural resources, village communities and local authorities take an active part in the administration of the region;
- Significant parts of the middle and upper zones of the watersheds are under improved management, i.e. sustainable land management and energy efficiency practices are applied successfully;
- Natural resources (pastureland, agricultural land and forest) are not only being maintained but steadily improved in both watershed areas.