Tajikistan Strengthens Natural Disaster Response


A World Bank project approved in July 2017 will boost Tajikistan’s ability to “prepare for, mitigate and respond to natural disasters,” according to a World Bank news release. Prone to floods, mudslides and earthquakes, Tajikistan will use $50 million to strengthen critical infrastructure.

The project will help officials shift from a reactive to a proactive response to natural disasters by “reducing disaster risks and strengthening climate resilience,” said Jan-Peter Olters, World Bank country manager for Tajikistan.

“It reinforces Tajikistan’s ongoing efforts to develop sound policies, responsive institutions and a resilient infrastructure to minimize the risk that natural hazards — if and when they strike — lead to debilitating disasters, irresoluble socio-economic costs, and avoidable human suffering,” he said.

In particular, the Strengthening Critical Infrastructure Against Natural Hazards Project will help modernize crisis management centers, allowing Tajikistan’s Committee for Emergency Situations and Civil Defence to generate timely early warnings, crisis communication and emergency preparedness and response.

At the same time, the project will help improve the Institute of Seismology and Earthquake Engineering’s assessment capacity. Finally, the Tajik government will create a $6 million fund for immediate use in disaster response and recovery.

Like other Central Asian countries, Tajikistan’s terrain leaves it vulnerable to natural disasters. Landslides, earthquakes and avalanches are common. In June 2017, severe mudslides in Sughd province damaged critical infrastructure and killed livestock, leading to an immediate need for food aid from the United Nations and the World Food Programme (WFP). In 2016, the WFP provided almost $80,000 worth of food to disaster victims in Tajikistan, according to ReliefWeb.

At the same time, many of the country’s roads, bridges and irrigation channels have deteriorated since they were built in the Soviet era. In response, key roads, bridges and river embankments in the Khatlon and Badakhshan regions — many of which were damaged in 2015 in natural disasters — will be rebuilt during the six-year project.