Tajikistan is a landlocked mountainous country of nearly 9 million inhabitants, bordering Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. While the country reduced its monetary poverty rate from 90% in the late 1990s to around 30% today, it continues to be the poorest in the Central Asia region as well as the most remittance-dependent country in the world.
Developmental challenges include falling living standards due to global recession, environmental degradation due to improper use of natural resources and the impact of climate change, and a business environment deterring private sector development.
The basis for this Multi-annual Indicative Programme (MIP) is the National Development Strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan covering 2016-2030, which has the overarching goal of improving living standards through sustainable economic development based on the achievement of key objectives, including energy security, efficient use of electricity, food security and access to good quality nutrition, productive employment and ending connectivity limitations.
The NDS is implemented through three Medium-term Development Programmes (MtDP), the last two of which - MtDP 2021-2025 and MtDP 2026-2030 - provide a sound basis for EU programming for the 2021-2027 period, because they emphasise the need to improve the use of national wealth, including human capital, to diversify the economy and to strengthen the country’s institutions.
The specific priority areas identified are the following:
Inclusive Green and Digital economy
While Tajikistan has rapidly reduced poverty over the past two decades, progress has slowed and the COVID-19 pandemic has had an adverse impact on the already fragile economy, prompting an increase in food prices and shortages of quality seeds due to the strong import dependency. Agriculture plays a key role in socio-economic development, but to become an engine for transition to a green, digital, and inclusive economy, productivity and competitiveness need to be sustainably increased
Despite impressive GDP growth rates, Tajikistan’s economy does not create enough jobs for its workforce, leaving its most precious asset, the human capital, largely underutilised. In addition, the fast-growing population puts severe pressure on public services provision and has led to a large workforce migration affecting the social fabric. Tajikistan is committed to developing its human capital by improving access to quality education and healthcare, but severe constraints still affect its provisions. Although a clear health framework is in place, implementation of different policy areas has varied considerably and has not yielded the expected impact.
Natural resource management
Tajikistan is the most vulnerable country to climate change in Central Asia due to its high sensitivity, low adaptability and limited capacity for disaster preparedness and risk reduction. The pressure on natural resources, notably on water, is constantly increasing. A water-intensive development model, associated with increased rainfall variability, water-related disasters and poorly controlled water, air and soil pollution, are all key factors that undermine the achievement of poverty eradication and sustainable development.
The Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) for Tajikistan for 2021-2024 amounts to €91 million.
Priority area 1: ‘‘Inclusive Green and Digital Economy’’ plans to boost agriculture as a driver for green economic growth and employment by making use of digital technologies and solutions. Furthermore, it advances improved policy, legal, implementation and monitoring framework for sustainable and climate-smart agriculture while strengthening increased agricultural productivity for employment creation in sustainable, climate-smart, and digitalised value-chains.
Priority Area 2: ‘’Human Development’’ aims to support Tajikistan in ensuring the provision of quality essential services for all in the education and health sectors. To achieve these goals, it will contribute to the achievement of Universal Health Coverage in Tajikistan and upgrade the relevance and the quality of the general secondary and vocational education and training for better employability and labour market integration of Tajik women and men.
Priority Area 3: ‘’Natural resource management’’ supports a sustainable and resilient economy to improve access to drinking water supply and sanitation, particularly in rural areas. Since independence, the country has invested significant political capital in the water sector. The EU has been supportive of these efforts and is currently the largest donor in the sector. This MIP is an opportunity to do more for more people with fewer resources and build resilience to climate change, natural disasters, and environmental stress.
The operating conditions of civil society and its cooperation with the Government show a mixed picture. There is an embryonic but active ecosystem of civil society organisations, which in recent years has been able to maintain its structure despite an overall shrinking space for civil society and civil liberties. The objective of the EU is to further promote the opportunity and capacity of CSOs to gradually take on other functions like engaging in norm-setting, legal advisory, advocacy, watchdog and accountability and expert dialogue with the governance bodies.