Published April 2000
This paper examines the profile of poverty in Tajikistan, the most remote and poorest of the independent states of the Former Soviet Union. Data is used from the first nationally representative household survey conducted since independence and the cessation of civil war. The picture that emerges is of a population facing severe economic, physical and psycho-social stress. Over 95 percent of the population are living below the minimum consumption basket, four out of five are 'poor', a third are 'very poor' and nearly 20 percent 'extremely poor'. Three-quarters of households are very concerned about how they will provide for basic necessities in the next 12 months. A significant proportion of children are now missing school due to financial hardship. This will have a damaging long term impact both upon the welfare of the child itself, but also for the nation as a whole. Despite this gloomy picture, households are also proving to be remarkably resilient to the dramatic drop in living standards most have experienced. They are surviving through a variety of coping mechanisms including the sale of assets, expanding informal sector activities, borrowing from relatives or friends and humanitarian aid. But many these survival strategies are not sustainable in the longer term and the government, in collaboration with the international community, needs to give urgent consideration to the development of a poverty alleviation strategy. The number of children in the household was one of the strongest correlates of poverty. Given this, and the widespread nature of poverty, one option would be to target what limited resources there are on children.