For integrated research activities in the Rasht Valley, two research sites were proposed. Both sites are part of a larger Vakhsh river watershed in the central part of Tajikistan and they are home to a population of at least 23,000 people.
Annual rainfall within the Rasht Valley varies from 416 to 915 mm. The coefficient of variation of annual precipitation in the region is 20-24%. A total of 75% to 85% of annual precipitation occurs during the period from December to May. Summer and autumn rains are rare and short-lived. All agricultural crops are irrigated and consequently the timing of the beginning or end of the rains has little influence on cropping.
In Tajikistan poverty is characteristic of rural areas, where resource-poor people represent up to 70% of the population. Moreover, according to a Word Bank and UNICEF report (2012), undernutrition remains an important public health challenge in Tajikistan, causing preventable deaths of mothers and children and delaying the physical and cognitive development of girls and boys, sometimes beyond remedy. Despite improvements over the last decade, undernutrition is responsible for 35% of deaths of Tajik children under five, claiming more than 7,500 lives in this age group annually.
In both research sites, the dominant agricultural livelihood system is agro-pastoral where rural people's incomes depend mainly on potato and orchard yields and livestock production. Setting up a knowledge platform for improvement of land conservation and soil fertility in the degraded environment of the Rasht Valley are a priority in both research sites. In partnership with all stakeholders, there are plans to boost resilience and productivity of the farming community at the household level through more sustainable and integrated mobilization of existing resources and innovative perceptions to attenuate the impact of environmental and economic stresses.
Research Site characteristics