VSO officially opens new programme office in Dushanbe, Tajikistan
VSO officially opens its programme office in Tajikistan on 25 June 2009 following its official registration in Tajikistan last September. The British ambassador, His Excellency Mr. Trevor Moore, will host the official launch of VSO’s newest country programme.
Representatives from key ministries and partner organisations, VSO volunteers and members of the international community will attend the launch event.
Catherine Hine, Director of VSO Tajikistan, said:
“It is exciting to hear from everyone we speak to here, about the key role that VSO can play in Tajikistan. And there is no doubt that VSO volunteers can make a difference. This beautiful country has been hit particularly hard by the global economic crisis, climate change and the decline in post-Soviet essential services.”
In 2009, with support from United Nations Volunteers, VSO Tajikistan conducted the first ever study of volunteering in Tajikistan contributing to VSO’s programme areas. Its key focus areas will be helping communities living in poverty to effectively manage natural resources to reduce the risk and impact of natural disasters.
VSO volunteer, Shane Stevenson, is currently working as Natural Resource Management Adviser with the Central Asian Mountain Partnership in Dushanbe:
“The Tajiks I have met are hospitable, keen to learn and very cooperative. The challenge lies in the multiple issues that require an integrated approach such as disaster management, pasture management, soil erosion and health care issues. A visit to the rural, mountainous areas brings home the extent of these challenges. “
VSO Tajikistan will also be focussing on improving access to healthcare services at community level for vulnerable groups. VSO currently has a volunteer, Jo Baker, an Organisational Development and Advocacy Specialist, working with the Association of Parents of Disabled Children (APDC).
As Sabohat Hakim Zoda, Director of APDC, explained:
“We wanted to know how things are done in other places and to share experiences. We wanted to learn how to advocate for disabled children.
“Jo’s help will mean that we can build our capacity and expand our work. We want to be able to stand up for the rights of disabled children effectively,” she added.
In the future, VSO Tajikistan will work in partnership with local organisation to help people living in poverty earn a decent and consistent livelihood through improved understanding of markets and business planning.
“I feel privileged to be able to work alongside our Tajik colleagues and support them in meeting the very real challenges that Tajikistan is facing right now. Despite our short existence in Tajikistan, VSO’s specialist volunteers can already feel that they make a difference and change lives here,” said Catherine Hine.
- Tajikistan is a mountainous, landlocked country, frequently affected by landslides, floods and avalanches.
- Nearly two-thirds of the population of Tajikistan live below the poverty line.
- A civil war in the 1990s, following the collapse of the USSR, upset Tajikistan -already the poorest state in the former Soviet Union- on its development path.
- Over recent years up to 50 per cent of the population depends on remittances from Tajik working in Russia to meet their basic needs. As the Russian economy slumps into recession, international observers have already identified a 30 per cent decline in income remittances in the first quarter of 2009. Government revenues to fund essential services have also fallen dramatically.