Tajikistan’s climatic conditions are challenging. With less than 10 % of national territory suitable for agriculture, food security is of persistent concern. 30 % of the population live below the national poverty line, inducing work migration that often leaves women and the elderly in charge of rural farms. Exacerbated by land degradation from deforestation and overgrazing, floods and landslides threaten lives and goods, especially in mountain areas. Rural communities are highly vulnerable to these events and to weather impacts onto their agricultural production.
Sustainability in rural livelihood systems can only be realized through a shift from reactive response for coping with weather impacts to weather-informed decision making and effective adaptation to climate change. This will require locally precise Weather, Water and Climate Services (WWCS), together with related options and decision-making criteria to improve livelihoods and well-being. Development of WWCS that are nationally provided, locally relevant, equally accessible and affordable is highly needed in Tajikistan and will be a novel core element of the country strategy 2021–2025. Building on a strong record of innovative projects on agricultural systems, disaster risk reduction and landscape restoration, these topics continue being the thematic backbone of Caritas Switzerland’s strategy in Tajikistan, with the ambition to reach larger scales and embedding into national policy systems.
This thematic focus and multi-stakeholder approach embody a level of complexity that necessitates the engagement of novel scientific, government and business partners. Caritas Switzerland has initiated and explores partnerships with Swiss and international organizations to support related Tajik line ministries and governmental agencies in addressing the many challenges that are inherent to an informed and sustainable management of natural resources and in agriculture under a changing climate. Leveraging the trust that Caritas Switzerland has built in country at all levels, Memorandums of Understanding with key go ernment partners are now in place, a key prerequisite for ensuring that benefits sustainably reach the rural poor.
Together with an ostensible shift in external funding priorities to regional (multi-country) initiatives, this country strategy provides significant opportunity in the medium term for regional engagement in Central Asia.