Shirin Dehkan Farm in Buston Village, A. Jomi District, Khatlan Province, Tajikistan. The rural development sector, which includes agriculture, energy and water, is one of the key focus areas of the EU's latest partnership strategy with Tajikistan. Photo by: Ganga Shreedhar / IFPRI South Asia / CC BY-NC-ND
Following the signing of a peace treaty in 1997 that ended civil conflict, Tajikistan made considerable strides in economic development and poverty reduction — growth of its gross domestic product averaged 7.1 percent over the past five years, according to World Bank data. Meanwhile, the country’s poverty rate dropped significantly from 72.4 percent in 2003 to 39.6 percent in 2012. Extreme poverty likewise took a dip, from 41.5 percent in 2003 to 17.5 percent in 2009. Yet in spite of its progress, many of Tajikistan’s long-standing problems still linger.
Health services have deteriorated considerably since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, suffering from outmoded health care systems and mismanagement of funds. Similarly, problems in the education sector stem from outdated curriculums and learning materials, and a shortage in teaching personnel thanks to low salaries and lack of incentives. These gaps in the education sector have led to a skills mismatch between the Tajik workforce and the labor market, causing high unemployment rates.
Meanwhile, Tajikistan remains highly reliant on agriculture both for livelihoods and food supply. Agricultural activities account for the employment of 60 percent of the population, while 80 percent of rural dwellers rely on farming for their daily food consumption. Further, the agriculture sector is credited for 40 percent of the country’s tax revenue, 25 percent of GDP and 25 percent of export revenue.