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Improving Environmental Education in the face of Climate Change in Tajikistan

As well as for the whole world, the consequences of climate change are to some extent already noticeable in Tajikistan. In order to build a full-fledged strategy for adaptation to climate change as soon as possible, it is necessary to develop environmental education. This notion is followed by the article by independent researcher Abdukodiri Khurshed for CABAR.asia.

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“Let’s keep our home clean for our children” – billboard established in support of environmental education outside the building of the Committee for Environmental Protection, Photo: CAREC

The global average temperature has already risen by 0.8 C, and we are on track to increase that figure by 4C by the end of this century. This scenario poses a direct threat to the intensity of floods, droughts, storms and sea level rise never experienced by humankind. Moreover, for today about 40% of agricultural land worldwide is seriously degraded.[1]

It should be noted that for Tajikistan, which is one of the most vulnerable countries to the consequences of climate change, as well as with unique ecosystem areas such as the «Tigrovaya Balka» Specially Protected Natural Territory, the development of environmental education could become one of the priority tasks in the process of adaptation to the consequences of climate change.

The purpose of the following analytical piece is to provide small recommendations for improving the policy of the Republic of Tajikistan in the field of environmental education, namely for integration of new methods in the strategy.

Effects of Climate Change in Tajikistan

As is already known, one of the negative consequences of climate change for Tajikistan is the melting of glaciers, which will reduce the amount of water available for agriculture. Households at greatest risk are in mountainous areas, whose irrigation systems depend entirely on glacial rivers. According to Tajik experts, thousands of small glaciers in Tajikistan will completely melt by 2050. The area covered with ice will be reduced by 20%. As a result, the share of glacial waters feeding local rivers may decrease by 20-40%, which will certainly have a negative impact on the agricultural sector.[2]


Climate change also worsens the situation with pastures. The situation is also complicated by overgrazing, which leads to conflicts among shepherds. Because of the unsustainable use of pastures and the effects of climate change, shepherds are forced to move their livestock into areas already occupied by other herders. In this regard, in order to obtain the required amount of food, cattle have to be on pastures for 2-3 months longer than usual.[3] However, even in this situation, the livestock does not receive enough food, and part of it perishes without surviving the winter.

Farmers also suffer from shifting seasons. Due to climate change, winters are getting warmer and springs colder than usual. This leads to disease in trees that are not adapted to temperature fluctuations. It is worth noting that the current climate change cannot be stopped, since the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere will be there for the next hundred years and possibly more. And this will happen despite the potential stop of all emissions into the atmosphere.[4]

However, it is also necessary to consider natural disasters for which local households are not prepared. For example, according to the data of the Committee for Emergency Situations of Civil Defense under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, in the period between 1997-2018, approximately 3460 natural disasters occurred in the Republic, i.e. on average, one natural disaster occurred every two days.[5]

Current state of Environmental Education

Environmental education will reduce the pressure on nature, which is in distress due to the effects of climate change. Pressures include, inter alia, unsustainable use of land and water resources and unsustainable household management, in addition to the negative impacts of climate change. The Republic of Tajikistan has a good legislative base in the field of environmental education. The Law on Environmental Education (2010) and the State Comprehensive Program for the Development of Environmental Education and Education of the Population of the Republic of Tajikistan until 2020 (2015) describe the situation very clearly and propose goals and objectives for improving the policy.

According to paragraph 1 of Article 13 of the Law “On Environmental Education of the Population”, public organizations and citizens have the right to: prepare proposals for the improvement and implementation of state policy in the field of environmental education.[6] Moreover, it is worth noting the fact that within the framework of initiatives and projects being implemented within the framework of international organizations, there are only separate measures aimed at developing environmental awareness of the population, in particular farmers suffering from the effects of climate change. For example, as part of the environmental projects of the German Society for International Cooperation, local farmers from Rasht are organizing farmer field schools to train local residents in sustainable farming.[7] Information campaigns are carried out to raise awareness among young people, by shooting and showing videos, as well as mind games. These measures are only a part of large projects on adaptation to climate change; therefore, there is a need for the development of integrated environmental education.

Social events within a “Month of Action for Green Climate”, photo: Asia-Plus

For today the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP) under Tajik government is introducing a number of measures to increase environmental awareness of the population. For example, in November 2020, a monitor was installed at the CEP building with the support of the Regional Environmental Center for Central Asia (CAREC) to promote environmental education by exhibiting photos and videos on key environmental issues. Moreover, with the support of international development organizations, the CEP also organizes weeks and months of action on environmental protection. In October-November 2020, a month of action for a green climate was held. The purpose of this event was to promote environmental issues among different segments of the population. To achieve this goal, quizzes, round tables were held, videos and photographic materials were shot to show and promote environmental issues.

Unsustainable use of resources

Due to the low level of environmental awareness, the population and households begin to neglect the benefits of nature. For example, according to data until 2010, 12,900 m3 of water was used in Tajikistan per hectare of land. At the same time, only 21% of the total volume was used effectively.[8] Another problem is unsustainable land management, due to the low level of knowledge and experience on the use of arable land in a changing climate. According to one of the local experts in the Rasht region, each arable land has its own specific chemical composition. Therefore, it is necessary to plant trees, taking this factor into account, and at the same time use only organic fertilizers, instead of chemical ones. However, not all farmers implement such measures.

Today, farmers grow market-oriented fruits and vegetables.[9] However, it must be understood that such fruits are not always resistant to the effects of climate change and pests that cause tree diseases, which can ultimately lead to the complete destruction of the entire crop, which will ultimately lead to a loss of income for the household, which is still observed today. Most farmers use chemical fertilizers, which negatively affect crop growth on already suffering arable land.[10]

The consequences of unsustainable resource use and climate change can lead to even more serious social implications. In particular, this can lead to mass migration of people to territories with sufficient water and land resources, which in turn can lead to more serious social upheavals, such as the struggle of communities for resources.[11]

Perception of ecological problems

For the development of environmental education, it is important to understand how the population perceives climate change, in particular young people. A study conducted last year showed that the youth perception of environmental issues is generally low. This state of affairs cannot but be more alarming,[12] since young people, being a part of society, should not allow escalation, but more and more often study the nature of environmental problems in order to find sustainable solutions.

First, you need to be concerned about the problem itself and the presence of desire and motivation to solve it. However, the study has shown that today’s youth have little awareness of environmental issues, let alone a level of concern. Focus groups with young people from several regions of Tajikistan, as well as interviews with experts, indicate the following: Young people are primarily interested in those benefits and deeds that can have potential benefits for their lives, and pay little attention to how the production of these benefits, directly or indirectly, harms the environment.

According to the expert, the interest of young people is more personal, and is aimed at increasing their material well-being.[13] They have little interest in environmental issues such as deteriorating air quality and plastic pollution, which they do not believe are directly affecting them. Such a dismissive attitude does not allow them to fully understand and analyze the existing problems. As a result, this leads to new ecological violations.

This state of affairs in Tajikistan is also recognized at the state level. According to the State Comprehensive Program for the Development of Environmental Education and Education of the Population of the Republic of Tajikistan for the Period until 2020, a greater number of offenses in the field of ecology are associated with a low level of environmental knowledge and a lack of environmental culture. Also, the document mentions “low environmental training of managers and specialists of industrial enterprises, whose activities negatively affect the state of the natural environment.”[14]

At the same time, the Strategy notes that the poor part of the population, by their actions, involuntarily contributes to the degradation of the surrounding ecosystem. Due to the low level of environmental education and culture, “the majority of the population pollutes water and land resources with household waste and sewage, and cut down already scarce forest resources for fuel.” As a result, such actions lead to the exposure of mountain slopes, an increase in mudflows and soil washout. All this only underlines the need to develop environmental education.


So how to raise environmental awareness among the population? Climate change is already bearing its negative fruits, primarily for those who are directly dependent on the surrounding ecosystem; that is, for farmers and households with a predominantly agricultural focus. Unsustainable land and water management has detrimental effects on agriculture and household management. A trivial but ideal starting point for solving the problem, as noted earlier, is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from industrial plants and large emitters of greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, today such a prospect seems far from being realized, and therefore it is necessary to take mitigation measures to make it easier for people to adapt to the consequences of climate change. As mentioned above, one such measure is to increase environmental education and awareness of the population, in particular those who suffer the most from climate impacts.

The development of environmental education will primarily help in the dissemination of knowledge and experience among the local population on the surrounding ecosystems and environmental problems. Young people, in turn, will be able to understand and begin to analyze the causes and consequences of modern environmental problems, from the effects of climate change to the pollution of the planet with wastes of anthropogenic activities. Also, raising environmental awareness will allow farmers to develop their household in more sustainable ways. These results will at least lead to more sustainable and ecological household management.


The following small recommendations, in turn, do not require large financial investments, but the consequences of the development of such measures can be decisive.

  • The very first and necessary measure to adapt to climate change is to train farmers in more sustainable farm start-ups. One of the farmers in the Rasht district is developing specialized farming schools in the region and beyond. The goal of these Farmer Schools is to educate local farmers in climate-resilient farming practices and planting local crops. The output of such schools is the further job creation for local communities. This allows the latter to develop their own agricultural lands, which improves food provision and development of trade. According to experts, it is necessary to increase the number of such farmer schools throughout Tajikistan. In addition to this, international organizations as well as local governments should develop a bottom-up method. This method implies active collaboration with the local population, which suffers the most from the consequences of climate change and other environmental problems. Together with experts and decision makers, local communities will participate in sustainable decision-making and raise environmental awareness.
  • The next method for the development of environmental education is the use of mass media. Namely, showing short films about the consequences of climate change, as well as the negative impact of human activities on the environment, which will not only increase the level of environmental education, but also the level of responsibility for the preservation of the surrounding ecosystem.
  • In addition, it should be noted that the results of the above study showed that young people are more interested in business and those activities that are aimed at understanding and developing those business ideas that are most relevant and beneficial. In this regard, there is an opportunity to develop events and seminars for the development and maintenance of startups, which will be aimed at improving the state of the environment. This approach can be a motivation for youth and people interested in business, who will direct their efforts to the ecological sphere.

This material has been prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial board or the donor.

[1] К. Раворт. 2017. Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like 21 st Century Economist (Экономика пончика: 7 способов думать, как экономист XXI века). Вермонт: Chelsea Green Publishing

[2] Ледники-Водные Ресурсы Таджикистана в Условиях Изменения Климата. Агентство по гидрометеорологии Комитет охраны окружающей среды при Правительстве Республики Таджикистан; http://www.cawater-info.net/library/rus/water_resourses_tj.pdf

[3] Х. Абдукодири. 2018. ‘Climate Change in Tajikistan: Youth Perceptions and Future Prospects’ (Изменение климата в Таджикистане: Восприятие Молодежи и Будущие Перспективы).

[4] EPA, Определена продолжительность жизни атмосферы и потенциал глобального потепления (Atmospheric Lifetime and Global Warming Potential Defined), доступ получен 20 января 2021 г. https://bit.ly/3o24tBd.

[5] П. Чоршанбиев. «В Таджикистане стихийные бедствия происходят каждые два дня?». News.tj.


[6] Закон Республики Таджикистан “Об экологическом образовании населения”. Принят Парламентом 16 декабря 2010 года №107. Утвержден Президентом 29 декабря 2010 года №673, http://energo-cis.ru/wyswyg/file/Zakon/Nacional/Tadghikistan/ob_ekologicheskom_obrazovanii_naseleniya.pdf

[7] Х. Абдукодири. 2018. ‘Climate Change in Tajikistan: Youth Perceptions and Future Prospects’ (Изменение климата в Таджикистане: Восприятие Молодежи и Будущие Перспективы).

[8] О.А. Анисимов, А.С. Гинсбург и И.Г. Грицевич. 2008. ‘Russia and Neighbouring Countries: Environmental, Economic and Social Impacts of Climate Change’ (Россия и соседние страны: Экологические, Экономические и Социальные последствия изменения климата). Москва: WWF Russia, Oxfam, https://www.preventionweb.net/publications/view/11494

[9] Х. Абдукодири. 2018. ‘Climate Change in Tajikistan: Youth Perceptions and Future Prospects’ (Изменение климата в Таджикистане: Восприятие Молодежи и Будущие Перспективы).

[10] Ibid

[11] Н. Воронин. «Изменение климата – причина “арабской весны”, войн и массовой миграции. Теперь это доказано научно». BBC.com. https://bbc.in/2Iq0le5 (Доступ получен 25 марта, 2019 года)

[12] Х. Абдукодири. 2018. ‘Climate Change in Tajikistan: Youth Perceptions and Future Prospects’ (Изменение климата в Таджикистане: Восприятие Молодежи и Будущие Перспективы).

[13] Ibid

[14] Государственная комплексная программа развития экологического воспитания и образования населения Республики Таджикистан на период до 2020 года. Утверждена постановлением Правительства Республики Таджикистан от «2» апреля 2015 года, №178., http://www.adlia.tj/show_doc.fwx?rgn=123958

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