Water Access Key Concern for Tajik Border Villages

Kamari Ahrorzoda reports from the Tajik village of Hojai Alo, where residents say they are denied access to water and pasture lands.</p><p>

Water Access Key Concern for Tajik Border Villages

Kamari Ahrorzoda reports from the Tajik village of Hojai Alo, where residents say they are denied access to water and pasture lands.</p><p>

Friday, 10 April, 2009
The river Matcho which they traditionally used as a water source lies on the border between Isfara district of northeast Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan’s Batken region.
Villagers say Kyrgyz frontier guards are now preventing them from accessing the river.
“The soldiers don’t allow us to get near it. It they catch you they might arrest you,” said one local man. “It’s a Tajik river.”
Their anger reflects the dislocation created by an increasing awareness of post-Soviet state boundaries and their significance for communities on either side.
“Those hills about five kilometres away used to be ours. People freely grazed their herds and cut hay there,” said another resident. “The Kyrgyz took it all.”
In Chorku, a Tajik enclave inside Kyrgyz territory, an argument over water supply pipes has caused tensions, with the Tajiks claiming one of their villagers has been “taken hostage” until the dispute is resolved. An IWPR report on the new road being built to bypass Chorku can be seen here: Kyrgyz, Tajiks Place High Value on Scrap of Land, RCA No. 572, 07-Apr-09)
The reporter also spoke to Kyrgyz villagers, who were more positive about cross-border relations, saying they got on with their neighbours and saw no real problems.
A Tajik political expert, Bobojon Ikromov, said it would be better to get the process of demarcating the border over with as soon as possible.
“There is a severe shortage of land, housing and water in both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan,” he explained. If this issue is not resolved at a political level soon, then unfortunately there could be growing animosity between border areas.”
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