Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Life on the Margins of Tajikistan's Capital

Even the chance of low-paid casual labour is enough to draw people in from the countryside.
By Yosuman Jamshed











Families living in makeshift housing on the fringes of the Tajik capital Dushanbe say they feel marginalised and ignored.

While hundreds of thousands of Tajiks work abroad in Russia, there is also a constant flow of movement from the countryside to the capital, where people hope to find casual work, typically at markets.

Many live in hostels around the city, or squat in disused buildings when they cannot get anything else.

Maysora Ilolieva and her four children have been living in a disused shop in the Giprozemgorodok settlement for the last 17 years. They moved during the chaos of the civil war which ran from 1992 to 1997.

There are 11 migrant families in Giprozemgorodok, living in buildings with leaky roofs and no plumbing and struggling to access state healthcare and other services. The settlement is located next to a big army base used by the Russian military, and they say police are stationed along the road to stop them coming out and protesting whenever President Imomali Rahmon’s convoy drives past.

Government officials acknowledge that internal migration focused on Dushanbe is a growing problem, caused by unemployment in rural areas. Many of the migrants complain of being shut out when land was distributed back home, leaving them with nowhere to live and work.

The labour ministry does not, however, keep track of this internal migration in its statistics, nor does it have a strategy for dealing with the social challlenges.

Yosuman Jamshed is an IWPR contributor in Tajikistan.

This audio programme went out in Russian and Tajik on national radio stations in Tajikistan. It was produced under two IWPR projects: Empowering Media and Civil Society Activists to Support Democratic Reforms in Tajikistan, funded by the European Union, and Strengthening Capacities, Bridging Divides in Central Asia, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Norwegian foreign ministry.  

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