But it lacks the resources, industry or location to develop rapidly, the bank experts say. “About 93 percent of its territory is mountainous,” its industrial base is small, and it is located far from the international infrastructure routes between Europe and Asia that are helping other Central Asian countries to change and develop. Moreover, it adjoins troubled Afghanistan.
Both its overall population and its children, who form 75 percent of the total, suffer as a result. According to the UN, 17 percent of the population of Tajikistan exists on 85 US cents a day and half on 1.33 US dollars. More than 20 percent of children don’t have access to pre-school facilities, and schools are overcrowded with 45 to 50 children in class the norm.
As many as two million Tajiks are now working abroad, somewhat depressing the birthrate because most of those who leave are men; and somewhat improving the economy via transfer payments. But this hasn’t slowed the increase in Tajikistan’s foreign debt burden which now stands at 40 percent of GDP.
According to the World Bank experts, Dzhorbanadze says, Tajikistan must reduce its birthrate and do so now. It won’t be able to do so forcefully because “Tajikistan isn’t China.” But it may have some luck by public education campaigns although it faces an uphill battle against traditional Islamic values of accepting however many children Allah sends.
Despite such resistance, she says, there is some hope because other Muslim countries have accepted that Islam allows for birth control. Tajikistan must do the same. Whether it is making any progress in that regard is likely to be shown when the country conducts its next census in 2020.