Sari Khosor is one of the most remote and beautiful places in the mountains of Tajikistan, located 200 km southeast of Dushanbe in the Baljuvon region, southern, Khatlon region. The inhabitants of these places live in very difficult conditions. It is impossible to get here in winter. And in summer, the roads here are so difficult that some people have not seen the “mainland” for years. During the Soviet Union due to lack of roads most of the people were relocated from this place to nearby valleys. After the collapse of the Soviet Union people returned to their homes.
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In Soviet times, due to inaccessibility, most of the population from this region was resettled to other, valley areas of the country. With the collapse of the USSR, people returned to these mountain villages, to their homeland.
Every year, the Surkhob River, through which the only road to the Sari-Khosor gorge passes, takes the lives of many people. Hundreds of tons of food and hundreds of head of livestock were destroyed along the way. Due to the fact that it is very difficult to get here, dozens of people die in Sari Khosor from diseases that doctors in the city can cure in a matter of minutes.
In Soviet times, there were only two routes to get here: by plane, which was later canceled, or on foot through the mountains. There has never been a road in this area. The lack of roads at that time did not really bother people, because planes flew regularly, and everything they needed was delivered by them. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the airport was closed. It made people think about a road.
There is only one road left, through the rough and deep river Surkhob. A dangerous river … So far, people are forced to use this dangerous path. Residents of the area are eagerly awaiting the opening of a modern road, the construction of which has already begun.
Passenger transport, which is usually trucks, go to Sari Khosor, from the market in the Baljuvon region. The market itself is open only on Sundays. The main buyers here are residents of the gorge. Also, once a week, on Sundays, trucks leave from here in this remote mountain gorge, carrying goods and people.
In addition to 40 passengers, who are accommodated with sacks of flour, sugar, butter, rolls of fabric, boards and slate – goats, sheep and chickens are also transported in one car. In summer, the journey from Baljuvon to Sari Khosor with a distance of 40 km takes about 5-6 hours.
Drivers driving to this area try not to go alone, because in the event of a breakdown or accident, a second car in these difficult conditions, when you will not meet anyone else on the road, may be the only chance to survive. It is really dangerous to cross the mountain river Surkhob. Especially in spring and autumn when the water level rises.
There are scenic spots in the hard-to-reach gorge. If there was a good road, this place could generate good tourism income. However, now only extreme lovers risk coming here.
There are about a dozen villages in the Sari Khosor gorge. Each village consists of four to eight households. The largest village is Mullokoni with over 20 households.
Residents receive their main income from growing potatoes and from labor migration. Previously, they were engaged in livestock raising and growing grain crops, but due to the fact that wild animals attack the fields, trample the harvest, people stopped sowing wheat.
Local residents were forced to abandon the breeding of livestock, which was one of their main sources of livelihood. Most of the pastures have sold out, in addition, wild animals, especially wolves attack livestock, so livestock breeding has become impossible. Nowadays, the inhabitants of Sari Khosor are no longer engaged in animal husbandry on such a scale that was before. Hunting wolves is prohibited, and officials will fine people if they hunt without permission. This worries local residents who complain that wolves attack their homes in winter.
The main source of income for the locals is threw growing potatoes and migration. Before the people were involved in animal husbandry and growing wheat. However, as wild animals constantly destroy the field, people stopped growing wheat.
The locals were forced from keeping livestock which was one of their main sources of survival. Most of the pastures were sold while wild animals like wolfs attack the livestock. As a result, keeping livestock has become impossible. Hunting wolves is prohibited, and officials will fine people if they hunt without permission. This worries local residents who complain that wolves attack their homes in winter.
Now the inhabitants of the Sari-Khosor gorge are leaving for labor migration, this is the main source of income and support for families in these places. Around a third of the families have a family member in Russia.
In previous years, there was no hospital in this canyon, and people died of diseases almost every day. Today, Mullokuni village has a health center and one nurse for the entire valley. There is no hospital in this region where people can take full treatments. People are forced to travel to the center of Baljuvon region. There is no maternity hospital or a doctor that is specialized as an obstetrician, most women use the services of local midwives, to give birth at home.
A few years ago in the Sari-Khosor region there were several evening schools where children studied. Now one 11-year school has been built in this region, most of the children in this area study in it.
One of the acute, unresolved problems in Sari Khosor is the issue of electricity. Residents of these remote mountain villages still illuminate their homes with lanterns and kerosene lamps, and some use solar panels. Residents have built small hydroelectric power plants at their own expense, but their work is seasonal. When water drops in rivers, residents suffer from power outages. And the capacity of these small stations is only enough for lighting houses.
Although the authorities say there are plans to build a $ 14.5 million transmission line to Sari Khosor jamoat, locals are still waiting for the centralized electricity supply and continue their lives filled with hard work and struggle to survive …