Access to food still difficult for vulnerable Tajik families, reports UN18 November 2009 – The 2009 harvest in Tajikistan is exceptionally good, but access to food remains difficult for vulnerable families in the Central Asian nation, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
The agency, in its October crop and food security assessment report, noted that the wheat crop is at a record high of 829,000 tonnes, one quarter more than last year, and yields of potatoes and other staple crops have substantially increased this season.
Timely and well-distributed rainfall, improved seeds, and wider use of fertilizer all contributed to this improvement, said the Rome-based agency.
Nevertheless, FAO added, prices for wheat and other food items remain above pre-food crisis levels. This, coupled with the drop in remittances from migrant labour, continues to hamper the ability of vulnerable populations to buy food.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has been providing various forms of assistance in the country, including hot meals to some 360,000 children in primary schools, food aid to an estimated 260,000 Tajiks living in hardship regions, food-for-work projects and nutritional supplements for malnourished children and their mothers.
Meanwhile, the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) has launched a guide entitled “How to construct a safe house using clay” that teaches rural dwellers in Tajikistan how to build dwellings that can resist moderate-strength earthquakes while using local materials such as mud bricks, stone and wood.
The manuals, copies of which are available in Russian and Tajik, include instructions on the selection of safe building sites, the correct lay-out for the house, testing clay and the strength of bricks, and safe construction techniques.
Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are all prone to a variety of disasters triggered by natural hazards, according to the ISDR, which maintains an office in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe.
The Geneva-based agency aims to build disaster resilient communities by promoting increased awareness of the importance of disaster reduction, with the goal of reducing human, social, economic and environmental losses.