Page last updated at 07:51 GMT, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Tajikistan threatened by climate change, says Oxfam

By Rayhan Demytrie
BBC Central Asia correspondent

Karagoch in Tajikistan
Melting glaciers could lead to water shortages

Tajikistan has done little to contribute to climate change, but is among the countries most adversely affected by it, the charity Oxfam says.

Extreme weather conditions and melting glaciers pose a great threat to its food security and social stability.

Its government recognises the threats but lacks the money and infrastructure to cope with such an overwhelming phenomenon, Oxfam's report adds.

It is based on interviews conducted last autumn with ordinary Tajiks.

Two thirds of the population depends on agriculture. And two years ago crops were damaged when an unusually cold winter was followed by a summer drought.

Glaciers melting by 20m (65ft) a year look set to cause more floods and mudflows in the spring.


And as nearly half of Central Asia's water resources originate in the Tajik mountains, there are concerns the melting glaciers could lead to water shortages across the entire region.

Strategies for efficient water management are crucial, says Oxfam. But instead there is growing tension in the region over its management.

The poorest country in Central Asia, Tajikistan also suffers from chronic energy shortages, especially in the winter.

The country is now building a giant hydroelectric power plant on the river Vaksh, but the project is strongly opposed by Uzbekistan, which lies downstream.

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