Climate change, shrinking glaciers and poverty in Tajikistan

Tajikistan coverA million miles from climategate and the post-Copenhagen blame game, spare a thought for the people of Tajikistan, a small, mountainous country in Central Asia. Around 53 percent of its population of seven million people live on less than $1.33 per day. And, although less than seven percent of its land is arable, around two thirds of the population depend on agriculture for their livelihood – cotton, wheat, nuts, fruit and vegetables.

That’s bad news because the country is on the sharp end of climate change, according to a new Oxfam report. In the words of a local official, “The main thing for us is the land, we take all the income and food from the land. We don’t have factories to go to work. That is why we ask God for good weather.” Unfortunately, God doesn’t seem to be listening. “I think the weather has become warmer in the last 4 or 5 years and that is affecting our crops. The sickness of our crops is increasing but the pesticides are expensive and we are losing almost 30extreme weather, Tajikistan
percent of our crops to diseases – onion, tomato and cucumber. And the drought was very hard on the wheat crop last year,” says Turaqulov Saidmuzator, a farmer in
Temumalik District.

The data bears out the farmers. Extreme weather events have doubled since the 1940s, and the glaciers are in retreat. The sooner we get the climate change debate back onto the science, the better.

Retreat of the Fedchenko glacier, 1933-2006
Retreat of the Fedchenko glacier, 1933-2006
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