UNDP Ayni Area Office
The Ayni Area Office was established in 2005 to reach Zerafshan Valley communities. The Zerafshan Valley is a remote mountainous area covering over a third of the territory of Sughd region, with a total area of 11,500 km2 hectares. The office prioritizes activities that enhance local governance, support economic growth, improve employment opportunities, improve service delivery including safe drinking water, mitigate disaster risk, and activities that attract labor migrants’ remittances for local development. The office considers gender mainstreaming as a key aspect of project activities and incorporates activities that give women equal opportunities for participation in civil society and local development.
In March 2006, with funding support from the DFID (Department for International Development of the Government of the United Kingdom), UNDP launched the Zerafshan Valley Initiative Project in all 24 jamoats of the valley’s three isolated districts of Ayni, Panjakent, and Kuhistoni Mastchoh. The project builds on existing development initiatives in the Zerafshan Valley and on UNDP’s experience and achievements throughout Tajikistan. The project aims to decrease poverty and improve the living standards of the Zerafshan Valley’s 295,000 inhabitants through the implementation of the following three project components:
1) Putting in place adequate information systems for planning, identifying priorities and coordinating development;
2) Improving public services through the efficient management of scarce resources; and
3) Enhancing livelihoods and employment opportunities.
The UNDP Ayni area office will continue supporting communities’ development initiatives by expanding the success of the Zerafshan Valley Initiative.
The Zerafshan Valley runs from East to West between the Turkestan and Hissar-Zerafshan mountain ranges. Access to Tajikistan’s side of the Zerafshan Valley is limited to two unreliable road outlets. These two roads, closed in winter, consist of a North-South mountain road in poor condition that intersects the two mountain ranges and serves as the only road link between Northern Tajikistan’s Sughd Province and the country’s capital – Dushanbe. The roads are generally in very bad condition and hamper the circulation of goods and people – even during summer months.
The population of Zerafshan is mainly engaged in agriculture and cattle breeding and therefore vulnerable to unstable weather conditions, limited land resources and deteriorated infrastructure. This highland District’s economy is the most isolated one and depends on migrant remittances, potato cropping and animal husbandry. Although the area provides ample opportunities for pasture and cattle breeding, available statistics show that pasture lands are decreasing because of improper maintenance. Land scarcity is a serious constraint, and consequently off-farm employment opportunities are one of the main issues. The valley’s economy depends primarily on cropping, migrant remittances, tobacco, small scale gold mining and trade. The high unemployment rate of the region resulted in an increase of annual labor migration mostly to the Russian Federation and other former Soviet countries.
List of Partners:
Government at Oblast level (Sughd Oblast Hukumat), Government at District level (Ayni, Panjakent and Kuhistoni Matchoh Hukumats), Government at Jamoat level (24 Zeravshan valley Jamoats), Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of RT, Strategic Research Centre under President of RT, State Statistic Committee, UNDP Integrated Water Resources Management Project, International Organization for Migration, German Agency for International Development, Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDSP)
The United Kingdom Government’s Department for International Development (DFID)
Firuz Khamidov, Area Manager