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The people of the mountain regions in Tajikistan are among the poorest and most vulnerable in the country. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the inhabitants cut down a large part of the forests to get enough firewood. As a result, the soil was degraded and further damaged through overgrazing. The ecosystems lost their balance and no longer function. This leads to the soils being less productive, and the small farmers find it increasingly difficult to secure their livelihoods. Moreover, the frequency and intensity of natural disasters is increasing. Temperatures have risen significantly due to climate change, droughts alternate with heavy rainfalls. The results are floods, landslides and avalanches. The small farmers have to watch as the soil on which they plant cereals and graze their animals is washed away.
The people in Tajikistan can only improve their living conditions if they manage to adapt to the new climatic conditions. They must learn to use the scarce resources carefully and sustainably and to prepare for natural disasters.
Weather-based decisions safeguard harvests
This adaptation to the new climatic conditions succeeds if the farming families use a reliable decision-making tool regarding the weather, water and climate: Frost, heat and rain determine the yield and quality of the harvest. Caritas is developing such ‘Weather, Water and Climate Services‘ (WWCS) jointly with the authorities and inhabitants of Tajikistan. They serve as early warning systems and agricultural decision-making tools. Caritas pursues an innovative approach in cooperation with numerous partners such as the Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, the Swiss WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA): Weather data from low-cost open-source weather stations and observations from farmers and municipalities are sent to the Tajik weather service and form the basis for providing reliable weather forecasts as well as recommendations for action on agricultural decisions. This information helps the farmers to make sound decisions regarding sowing, harvesting and irrigation. Is the soil warm enough to plant potatoes? Should I expect frost in the coming days? Should I irrigate now and if so, how much?
Many actors increase quality
Actors from a broader spectrum are involved: from the weather service via ministries to local farmers and their association, to ensure that the services are accessible to the individual user in remote areas. Caritas also cooperates with other international and Swiss partner institutions from science and the public sector.
The farming families can now make informed decisions regarding sowing, harvesting and pest control. This also makes efficient and resource-conserving irrigation possible. The weather, water and climate services reduce the vulnerability of rural households and communities. They can use their resources in a targeted way and prepare better for the risks of natural hazards. In short, they adapt to the impacts of climate change. The weather, water and climate services support sustainable management of natural resources in order to counteract the severe overexploitation through deforestation and overgrazing. The resilience of the people in Tajikistan is strengthened.
People and their living conditions are at the centre of our climate projects. Our projects help the poorest people to cope with the consequences of climate change and the resulting weather extremes such as droughts and cyclones. We help smallholder families to achieve a high-yield harvest and develop new income sources despite the greatly changed conditions. Together with the population, we protect, preserve and rehabilitate natural resources such as lakes, forests and soils. In addition, we promote the sustainable and efficient use of energy, which enables families and entire communities to escape poverty.