DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES OF THE PYANJ BASIN ZONE

19:31:08

September    
Thu 29-09-2022

Gender Assessment

Gender and social assessments were prepared to review and evaluate the social and gender issues related to agriculture, water management and climate change, and to identify actions to address these issues. Based on an analysis of the latest available data the needs, opportunities, and limitations of certain populations, especially women have been assessed. An in-depth gender analysis was also conducted to examine the different roles, needs and opportunities for women and men in relation to water management and climate change.

Implementation of the Pyanj River Basin Management Plan (PRBMP), prepared under the technical assistance project funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), is expected to have a positive effect on the economy of the country, as the basin: (i) covers most of the Khatlon district with the largest population and agricultural production; (ii) includes the largest food insecure areas of the country; and (iii) is the poorest river basin in the country with an average poverty rate of 55%.

Legal Framework

Tajikistan has adopted a number of regulatory documents regarding gender issues. In particular, the Family Code of the Republic of Tajikistan dated 13 November 1998, the Decree of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan “On Measures to Improve the Status of Women in Society” of 3 December 1999, the Law of the Republic of Tajikistan on “State Guarantees for Equality between Men and Women and Equal Opportunities for Implementation” adopted on 15 December 2004, the National Strategy for Promotion of the Role of Women in the Republic of Tajikistan for 2011-2020, the State Program “Main Directions of State Policy to Ensure Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men in the Republic of Tajikistan for 2001-2010”.

The National Strategy for the Promotion of the Role of Women in the Republic of Tajikistan for 2011-2020 recognizes that due to the high level of labor migration the majority of women are employed in agriculture – a sector that is most exposed to the risks of climate change. Therefore, it is proposed to improve women’s access to land, simplify the procedures for providing loans to women, and re-train them to enhance their agricultural production skills, also including taking into account the climate change risks. The strategy proposes to improve the educational level of women, especially those living in rural and remote areas, as well as these in low-income families.[1]

The National Development Strategy (NDS) of the Republic of Tajikistan for the period until 2030. The gender equality and climate change are addressed in Chapter 4 of the NDS, “Development of Human Capital”. The strategy notes that the main problems for Tajikistan in recent years are the high level of risk of natural disasters, including these related to climate change, which primarily affect women and children. The Strategy notes the need to develop and implement mechanisms for reducing the social vulnerability due to natural disasters; and the establishment and implementation of gender-sensitive information support system and training the population in proactive natural disasters protection and mitigation actions.

The National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change of Tajikistan until 2030 (NSACC) adopted by government resolution No. 482 of 2 October 2019, requires gender issues to be addressed through a set of activities across the sectors of the national economy. The NSACC identifies risks and impacts of climate change that need a gender neutral approach. The Strategy notes that the main gender gap related to the climate change is the low level of women’s access to information on climate change, and the lack of decision-making powers to take adaptation measures.

The National Strategy on Natural Disaster Risk Reduction for 2019-2030 noted the need for the establishment and implementation of a gender-sensitive information support system, and training of the population in natural disasters warning, protecting and mitigation.

Gender and Labor Migration

Currently, remittances from labor migration are the main source of income for most households, especially in the rural areas. According to information compiled from the socio-economic development programs of the basin districts, the level of labor migration in the basin remains at a fairly high level – in 2016 there were 95,700 labor migrants in the basin, representing 11% of the total working-age population.

Table 12: Labor Migration in the Pyanj River Basin

Water Resource Zone

Number of labor migrants

As a percentage of the working-age population

Share of women in the total number of labor migrants (%)

Badakhshan

31,388

28.1

25

Kulyab

39,904

7.0

6

Lower Pyanj

24,373

13.6

15

Total PRB

95,665

11.0

 

Source: Pyanj River Basin Socio-Economic Development Programs

As shown in the table, the highest level of labor migration is observed in the Badakhshan Water Resources Zone (WRZ) – 28.1%, while 32.8% of the total number of labor migrants in the Pyanj River basin are from the Badakhshan zone, 41.7% from the Kulyab zone and 25.5% in the Lower Pyanj WRZ.

In recent years there has been a steady increase in labor migration among women. On average, in the country, the proportion of women in the total number of labor migrants is currently between 15-16%. The female labor migration is seasonal with a duration from 3 to 9 months. Women as labor migrants work mainly in trade and public catering; and the level of knowledge of the Russian language and professional training for women is slightly lower compared to men.

The analysis of the information obtained from the programs for socio-economic development of the Pyanj River Basin regions shows that the number of women labor migrants is most often observed in Badakhshan WRZ – on average 20-25% of the total number of labor migrants. The highest level of female labor migration is observed in Ishkashim district – 40% of the total number of labor migrants. A relatively low level of female labor migration is observed in the Kulyab WRZ – on average 5-6% of the total number of labor migrants. In the Lower Pyanj WRZ, the level of labor migration of women fluctuates around 14-15%.

Gender Aspects of Land and Water Management

Access to Land and Water

In Tajikistan, access to land has a specific legal meaning. There is no private ownership of land, but people have the right to use land based on special licenses (permits). Therefore, “ownership” of land refers to the rights to use land, which are endowed with persons whose names are stated in land certificates and licenses. The land relations are regulated by the Land Code of the Republic of Tajikistan, adopted in 1996, which aims to create conditions for rational use and protection of land, preservation of soil fertility, as well as conservation and improvement of the natural environment, equal for all forms of land management. In 2012, amendments were made to the Land Code, including a clause ensuring equal access to land for women and men.

Despite this substantial gender-sensitive revision of the Land Code and subsequent efforts to increase women’s access to land, land use certificates are most often registered only in the name of the male head of a family. As a result, while the majority (75%) of agricultural workers are women, the number of women-headed dekhkan farms is significantly lower compared to these headed by men. According to the Agency for Statistics and information from the programs for the socio-economic development of the basin women’s access to land remains rather low – out of 45,766 dekhkan farms, only 11.5% are headed by women.

The lowest access of women to the management of dekhkan farms is observed in Badakhshan WRZ, where only 0.2% of the dekhkan farms are headed by women. In the Kulyab zone, 17.4% of the dekhkan farms are headed by women; and in Lower Pyanj – 18%. Another important indicator is the size of the cultivated area of dekhkan farms headed by women. So, of the total area of dekhkan farms, the area headed by women in Badakhshan WRZ is 1%, and in the Kulyab and Nizhny Pyanj zones it is on average 8%.

Table 13: Gender Distribution of Dekhkan farms in the Pyanj River Basin

Water Resource Zone

Number of Farms

Dekhkan Farms Headed by

Men (%)

Women (%)

Badakhshan

15,471

99.8

0.2

Kulyab

21,194

83.0

17.0

Lower Pyanj

9,101

82.0

18.0

Total PRB

45,766

88.5

11.5

Source: Gender indicators in the production activities of dekhkan farms for 2012-2017.

Furthermore, the lack of access to land is often the cause of women’s limited access to water. Thus, the distribution of land tenure among heads of households, or permanent agricultural workers (who are mostly men) leads to women having fewer water rights, despite the fact that the gender equality is clearly stated in the legislation. Even if women have legal rights to land, traditions often impede their actual control over the land and water resources – the most important production base, access to which determines the opportunity to participate in decision-making and management processes.

Women’s Participation in Water Management

Although the percentage of women working in agriculture is higher than that of men, decision-making positions are mostly held by men, especially in cotton growing, which is covers more than 50% of the irrigated land. Women are primarily represented in small household plots, while men manage large plots, although women predominantly work in the irrigated areas.

Despite the fact that many men are absent from rural areas because of labor migration, they overwhelmingly dominate WUAs. Based on the results of this assessment, women’s participation in WUAs is very low. For example, none of the 7 WUAs in Hamadoni area is managed by women. Similar is the situation in the remaining districts in the basin. Nevertheless, the survey shows that women are willing to participate in the water management in their villages.

At a basin level, only about 1% of the leadership positions in the basin water management system are held by women.

Gender and Natural Disaster Risk Management

Natural disasters affect the life, health and well-being of the population, as well as economic development at the national and household levels. According to the Committee of Emergency Situations and Civil Defense (CES), over the past sixteen years 2,669 natural emergencies have occurred in the country, including 933 natural disasters associated with avalanches, 784 cases of mud-flows and earthquakes (390 cases).

According to CES , the basin is one of the most vulnerable basins in the country in terms of natural disasters, as in Kulyab, Roshtkala, Shugnan, Ishkashim and Darvaz the number of natural disasters exceeds several times the national average. According to recent data, more than 54% of the country natural disasters occur in the basin, especially floods (114 cases) and landslides (114 cases).

In 2017, the World Bank conducted a social assessment of the strengthening of critical infrastructure from natural disasters in the basin. The results of the surveys revealed that natural disasters affect all segments of the population, but the most vulnerable groups were: (i) households headed by women (mostly widows), (ii) families of labor migrants, (iii) families without adult sons, and (iv) households with disabled family members.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan for 2019-2030 notes that one of the main impediments to reducing the risks of natural disasters is the weak gender mainstreaming, ignoring the fact that disasters have different effects on men and women, since women and men have different vulnerabilities and specific requirements. The Strategy also recognized that women are not only a major vulnerable group, but also a valuable resource.

Therefore, the Strategy requires the introduction of a balanced gender approach at all stages of disaster risk management and mitigation, through two mandatory directions:

Addressing the specific needs and requirements of men and women, and other social groups at risk, including persons with disabilities, elderly persons, etc., considering various types of vulnerability and opportunities; and

involving women and all other social groups in the information and discussion processes and participation in decision-making related to key issues related to disaster risk reduction.

According to CES for period 1998-2017 830 emergency situations of a natural kind were recorded in the Badakhshan WRZ, representing 31% of all natural emergencies in Tajikistan. During this period, emergency situations claimed the lives of 66 people. Most of the human casualties were observed in the Roshtkala district – 30 persons, Shugnan – 17 and Ishkoshim – 10. On average, over the past 19 years, 44 natural disasters have occurred in GBAO.

In the Kulyab WRZ, natural disasters – mudflows and floods – associated with rising water levels in the Pyanj, Surkhob, Yakhsu and Tohirsu rivers and demolition of river banks and resulting in flooding of settlements, agricultural land, social and industrial infrastructure. According to CES, in 1998 and the first nine months of 2017, 536 emergencies form natural disasters occurred in the Khatlon district, having a natural character for the total amount of damage amounted to 483 million somoni. The recurrence rate of these natural disasters in the main mudflows per year is 5–6, and in settlements located near the Surkhob and Yakhsu rivers, 10–15, mainly in the spring.

The gender dimensions of disaster awareness need to be addressed at the level of local governments, relevant institutions and organizations as well as at community level.

At local level, emergency response teams (ERT) are formed to mitigate natural disasters. The ERT activities are based on the government “Standard Methodology for Assessing Damage and Needs”. The main ERT tasks include: (i) coordination of activities of group members in disaster management at the site; and (ii) providing operational assistance to mitigate natural disasters using the available resources. In accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Tajikistan, the ERT members must enroll in special courses for emergency assistance and have formal certificates. Unfortunately, in the basin women are involved in the ERT activities at a rather low level – no more than 10-15% of the participants of the training courses on emergency assistance are women.

Recommendations

The following actions, resulting from the social and gender analyses and consultations with stakeholders, are recommended:

Ensure increased women’s participation in decision-making on water management;

Provide technical training in water management, irrigation and water conservation for women;

Design, pilot test and establish community-based early warning systems with enhanced participation of women, under the CES coordination, and provide training on modern early warning communication techniques.

Encourage empowerment of women as water managers, farmers, irrigators, and their active participation in water supply and sanitation development;

Introduce measures and monitoring indicators that promote the leading role of women in managing water resources;

At the community level, support the establishment of gender balanced emergency response teams and provision of essential equipment;

Allocate small grants to communities for establishing mudflow facilities with strong women’s participation; and

Provide training for communities on use of modern technologies for mudflow protection with the mandatory participation of women.

  1. National Strategy for the Promotion of the Role of Women in the Republic of Tajikistan for 2011-2020, 29 May 2010