Mercy Corps has been working in Tajikistan since 1994, building healthy, productive, and resilient communities.
Tajikistan’s civil war in the 1990s severely damaged the country’s already weak economic infrastructure and caused a sharp decline in industrial and agricultural production. Uneven implementation of structural reforms and widespread unemployment have kept the economy in a fragile condition and left families struggling with extreme poverty, poor healthcare, and isolation.
There has been significant progress over the last couple of decades. The poverty rate fell from 83% in 2000 to 27% in 2018, however 12% of people still live in extreme poverty. Tajikistan continues to face critical challenges in providing its growing young population with meaningful and market-appropriate skills, employment, and entrepreneurship opportunities. Because of this, the economy is greatly dependent on labor migration, with a large proportion of GDP drawn from money sent home by Tajiks working in Russia.
Only 7% of Tajikistan’s land is arable, posing significant food security challenges, especially in the winter months. Climate change and extreme weather, including floods, landslides, and droughts, also have a significant impact on crops and pose additional economic challenges.
Since 1994, Mercy Corps has been working to build stability, improve health, promote economic development, and strengthen community disaster preparedness. We have also supported the social and economic reintegration of returning labor migrants and a small population of Afghan refugees residing in the country. In response to COVID‑19, we’ve adapted our programs so we can continue to safely work alongside the communities we serve. We have also introduced new programming to prevent the spread of the virus. Today, our focus is on building resilient youth.
Mercy Corps provides older adolescents with life and work readiness skills to facilitate the school-to-work transition. We equip youth with vocational and business development skills so they have greater potential for employment or self-employment and then link them to potential employers. To increase our impact, we share learnings and recommendations for replication to local stakeholders who are also working on skills training initiatives.