Thursday, November 16, 2023

Degradation of Land Pushing Rural Tajiks to Seek Work Abroad, UN Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 13 – The flight of  Central Asians to Russia is usually discussed in terms of “the pull” of higher wages there rather than any “push” from these countries themselves. But UN experts say that many of those fleeing Tajikistan at least are doing so because of the degradation and even desertification of rural land in that republic.

            In research connected with the UN Convention on Combatting Desertification, these experts say that as much as 95 percent of the agricultural land in Tajikistan is becoming degraded, a development that is forcing people to leave whether they want to or not (

            “Land degradation is a significant trigger of migration,” the UN specialists say, “although its impact is indirection. Combined with increasing anthropogenic pressures caused by population growth, land degradation reduces the amount of productive land and water resources as well as drops in crop yields and livestock production” and farmers are forced to flee.

            In Tajikistan, almost a third of all land is already unsuitable for agriculture; and that number is certain to rise in the future if nothing is done.

            The study did not address another aspect of this flight as far as receiving countries are concerned. But it suggests that a very large percentage of those leaving Tajikistan for Russia are from rural areas, the least Russianized and Russified and therefore the most different from the indigenous population of the Russian Federation. 

            Such people may pass through Tajik cities, but they are defined by their rural roots and are forced to move first to urban areas in their own country and then, not finding work there, on to Russia.

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