vso strategy

The VSO overall vision is for a world without poverty in which people work together to fulfil their potential.  Their approach involves working with government, organisations and individuals to develop the practical and technical skills needed to improve lives.

VSO’s work revolves around six development goals one of which is the Secure Livelihoods programme which main objective is to strengthen the ability of disadvantaged people to make a living. In particular VSO in Tajikistan works to improve the opportunities of marginalised youth and women from low-income households to participate in inclusive economic and social development.

Since suffering a five year civil war in the 1990s, Tajikistan has come a very long way.  However, it remains the poorest of the former Soviet republics and poverty is concentrated mostly in rural areas.  High levels of youth unemployment contributes to approximately 1/7th of the population migrating overseas for what is usually insecure and low-skilled work – in 2013 nearly 500,000 of the 8 million population, left the country.  Dependence on migrant remittances is very high, making Tajikistan very vulnerable to economic shocks.

Since 2009, VSO Tajikistan has reached across the boarder to people living in poverty in Afghanistan. There are approximately 15 million youth in Afghanistan (44% of the population) and according to the Afghan government only 50% of these young people can write or read their own name.  According to a survey of gender specialists (Reuters Foundation, June 2011) Afghanistan is the most difficult country in the world in which to be a woman.

pamir-women

One of the projects under the Secure Livelihoods programme is to help bring investment and to develop cross boarder markets between Tajikistan and Afghanistan in the remote and mountainous Pamir region – this is where I will be working.  This area is home to only 3% of the Tajikistan population despite occupying 40% of the land mass.

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The Pamirs – just 3% of the population

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Cross boarder market Tajikistan – Afghanistan

Tomorrow I travel to the Pamir’s for the first time to attend a conference ‘Pamir Invest’ hosted by my partner organisation Mintal Inter.  With luck we will fly as the view is extraordinary otherwise it will be two days on the notorious Pamir Highway.  But that will be another story to be told next time …….

Ariel view Pamir mountains

The Pamirs ariel view – travel time 1 hour

Transport-dush-khorog

or will it be the hard way Pamir highway – travel time 2 days?

What is Pamir Invest 2014

Pamir Invest 2014 is an International Investment Forum to promote the development of the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) and surrounding highland regions of Tajikistan, attract investment to businesses operating within the region and promote wider regional trade and economic cooperation

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