According to a 2009 World Bank report, Tajikistan is the most vulnerable country with the least capacity to adapt to climate change in the region of Europe and Central Asia. Environmental degradation directly affects some 70% of the population and forces the majority of rural communities into low-skilled labor migration outside the country. This aggravates poverty, makes the country highly-dependent on donor-driven policies and leads to a gradual loss of unique mountain bio-cultural heritage.
As a rural development practitioner, I have been striving to obtain insights into the many facets of development practice both at grassroots and policy levels. Time spent in remote, environmentally fragile communities has broadened my perception of the underlying causes of poverty in Tajikistan. Specifically, my practical experience in community-based natural resources management and integrated watershed development has helped me understand that the cycles of poverty are complex, and so are the solutions. Yet, it is undeniably clear that a solid natural resource base and sound environmental management is critical if development in Tajikistan is to follow a home-grown, sustainable and stable path.
It is vital for Tajikistan to foster leaders with a broader vision and capacity to pursue development and growth that is centered on people, nature and culture.
To address the above challenges, I plan to continue my current work in community-based conservation and environmental advocacy with like-minded groups locally and internationally. I will take my grassroots experience and the rich knowledge and practices of local communities into the academic arena through my graduate studies and university teaching.