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The population in the mountain regions of Tajikistan is among the poorest and most vulnerable. In the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union and of the supply of gas and energy, a large proportion of the existing forests was cut down to meet the immediate need for fuel. The resulting degradation of the soil and land is exacerbated by widespread overgrazing. Entire ecosystems are only functional to a reduced extent, which limits the agricultural productivity of the rural population and contributes substantially to the frequency and intensity of natural disasters such as flooding, landslides and avalanches. The advancing climate change further aggravates this situation.
In the overall economic and political context of Tajikistan, an improvement of these living conditions can only be achieved by directly enabling those affected to increase their agricultural productivity despite challenging climatic and environmental conditions, and at the same time to manage the natural resources sustainably and be better prepared for natural disasters.
All these approaches are most successful if they build on a sound information base regarding the weather, water and climate. Such Weather, Water and Climate Services (WWCS) can include early warning systems, agronomic decision-making tools, or long-term climate scenarios as the basis for adaptation to climate change. However, in Tajikistan, WWCS are neither available with the necessary quality and coverage, nor does the capacity exist on the user side to use them productively. The project therefore works towards a national system that enables WWCS to meet specific needs for a broad circle of users. At the same time, these users are given support in using WWCS for their daily decisions.
WWCS-based decisions improve agricultural productivity (for example, through more efficient irrigation, weather-based planning of sowing and harvesting, pest control…), and reduce the vulnerability of rural households and communities to natural hazards.
WWCS need data on weather and the environment. To this end, the project takes an innovative approach which combines low-cost open-source weather stations with observations by the communities and farmers. This data is communicated to the Tajik meteorological service which is supported in using it to produce more reliable weather forecasts and provide WWCS for specific needs. A circular value chain is thus created - a vital lever for the system’s sustainability.
The processes behind the provision and use of WWCS go far beyond the local level at which Caritas works traditionally. They draw in actors from the whole spectrum, ranging from national (meteorological service, government ministries) to local farmers and their associations. To enable it to effectively address this broad spectrum, Caritas has signed a framework agreement with the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in which the two organisations pool their respective experiences and networks in order to make WWCS available across the ‘last mile’ for rural users. Other international and Swiss partner institutions from business and public service support the project technically, as well as their respective Tajik counterparts in the provision and use of WWCS.