IOM Tajikistan and the Government of Tajikistan co-organized a side event to discuss water and migration as a part of the International high-level Conference on International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028” in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe. The side-event titled “Migration in the Age of Vanishing Waters” brought together representatives of the related government agencies, international stakeholders, and academia.
The event focused on different linkages between water and migratory movements globally - more specifically, exploring the impact of climate change on water resources as a driver of migration. For instance, recent United Nations’ estimates highlighted that by 2025 1.8 billion people could be living in regions with absolute water scarcity, while in semi- and arid places droughts and land degradation could displace between 24 million and 700 million people.
“Often, people are forced to migrate as traditional water resources and livelihood options are eroded. On the other hand, sustainable water and land management can enhance the resilience of affected populations and help avoid instances of forced migration. Migration can also be an adaptation option in the face of irreversible climatic changes” said Ms. Aziza Sindarova, Acting Chief of Mission of IOM Tajikistan.
Mr. Nurullo Mahmadullozoda, the Deputy Ministry of Labour, Migration and Population Employment of Tajikistan, stressed that Tajikistan is one of the most vulnerable to the climate change country in the region. He said: "Though, having least impact on climate change, Tajikistan is more affected than many other countries by its negative consequences. A rise in temperature will and is already leading to a reduction in the area and volume of glaciers, and an increase in the dynamics of mudflow and floods. Tajikistan's agriculture, hydropower and transport infrastructures are especially under risk and it can be expected that changes in the humidity of the climate, multiplied by the active population growth, can become an impetus to the large-scale growth of environmental migration, both inside the country and beyond".
Mr. Mahmadullozoda highlighted that any changes to the water resources have high effect on development of countries of the region.
Besides the national level experiences of the Government of Tajikistan, the event showcased a multitude of migratory experiences from diverse regions, highlighting potential response options and best practices. The event unwove areas where objectives coalesce between water, migration, environment, and climate change. This includes exploring overlapping policy, data and partnership needs and opportunities. Academia experts pointed to key factors helping the local population to adapt to water challenges. Saodat Olimova, from the Science and Research Center “Sharq”, said: “The key success factors for adaptation to water stresses, including migration, are: a) the active role of the state; b) development of local economy in vulnerable regions; c) raising the potential of communities to develop most effective strategies to cope with impacts of environmental degradation".
Tajikistan is home to almost half (43%) of the water resources in Central Asia, but consumes only around one tenth of it. The country is among the leading nations of the globe to raise water issues; the country has initiated several UN-level water-dedicated decades and years, as well as hosted international events on the topic.
At the same time, more than one million of adult men and women from the nine-million populated country live and work abroad, mostly in the Russian Federation. Tajikistan is among top six countries in the world by having the most share of their GDP consisted of the migrant workers’ remittances.