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

Tajiks Unhappy With Land Reform

By Orzu Karim






An ongoing programme of land distribution in southern Tajikistan is failing to benefit its target constituency, the poorest sections of rural society, experts say.

The authorities in Hatlon region, which covers most of the south of this Central Asian state, say plans to distribute 8,000 square kilometres of land to 44,000 of the most impoverished families has been successfully completed. But many people interviewed by IWPR, typically from households with many dependents, say they are being asked for bribes or else offered lands that are unfit for use – or nothing at all – in a process that is far from transparent.

“If you’ve got money, you’ll be given land, but where are we to get money from?” said one unsuccessful applicant, a woman from the Vakhsh district in Hatlon. 

Local NGOs and researchers say they have noted many instances of wrongdoing.

“The information we have suggests this is not going to resolve the housing problems, because these land plots are being [illicitly] sold off at a price,” said Yusuf Muhammadzoda, who heads an NGO called Development in the region. “So implementation of this plan is being hampered by an elaborate web of corruption, theft of public property, and abuse of office.”

The head of land distribution in Hatlon, Fathullo Hurmatov, acknowledged there had been some hiccups in the process but flatly denied allegations of corruption.

“No one has come to us directly to say they’ve been asked for money,” he said. “I have personally toured the towns and villages and checked everything out. There are undoubtedly a great many shortcomings.”

Safarmoh Khudoynazarova, who works for the regional land commission, said officials were working from a list of eligible people that had been drawn up.

“We are monitoring everything,” she said. “We have a huge population with many poor and needy people. There isn’t enough for all of them.” 

Orzu Karim 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 the Human Rights Reporting, Confidence Building and Conflict Information Programme, 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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