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"At the time, we did not know the pesticides stored in our village were toxic..."

Mounawar, resident of Oykamar
Two deminers in the field

Tajikistan

FSD has been working in Tajikistan now for over 18 years; activities have been in two main areas of work from mine action and weapons destruction to environmental remediation of legacy heavy metal mining sites and obsolete pesticide dumps.

Depollution

In the 1950s and 1960s, pesticides were distributed en masse, almost free of charge, to increase agricultural production. The collapse of the USSR left massive stocks unmanaged and unprotected. Since then, these obsolete pesticides, predominantly DDT, have started to penetrate the environment. FSD identifies affected areas and works on their remediation.

Weapons and ammunition disposal

For almost 20 years, FSD has managed a project to eliminate obsolete stockpiles of ordnance and small arms and ammunition. These stocks are dangerous as they can cause accidental explosions or be used for the production of homemade explosive devices. More than 820 tonnes of weapons and ammunition have been destroyed by FSD in Tajikistan, as well as about 50 portable anti-aircraft rockets.

Why Tajikistan ?

In 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tajikistan declared its independence and quickly fell into a civil war that lasted until 1997. The country remains to this day the poorest of the former Soviet republics and keeps a heavy legacy of this recent history. Considerable quantities of obsolete weapons and ammunition remain in circulation, posing a threat to the population as well as to regional security. The territory is also dotted with anti-personnel mines and explosive remnants of war. Moreover, many stocks of obsolete pesticides, now recognized as toxic, are scattered across the country, migrate in the environment and contaminate the food chain.

A deminer with a huge missile
A deminer with explosives which they found
a fsd excavator
a fsd excavator

FSD in Tajikistan

FSD's presence in Tajikistan dates back to 2003, with the implementation of a mine action program supported by the US State Department. In 15 years, the organization’s deminers have released more than 11 million square meters of land back to communities. The Tajik government estimates the surface area remaining to be cleared at 14 million square meters.


However, donor funding for Tajikistan is scarce and there are insufficient demining teams in-country to be able to meet current Ottawa Treaty Obligations.


FSD's second project in Tajikistan, which started in 2016, involves cleaning up land contaminated with obsolete pesticides dating from the Soviet era. In partnership with the United Nations Environment Program, FSD has identified priority sites and initiated measures to remediate contaminated soils and raise awareness among affected populations. Long-term exposure to these "persistent organic pollutants" has been correlated with a series of negative health effects, ranging from problems with the nervous, immune, reproductive and endocrine systems, to various types of birth defects and of cancers.


Note that FSD's demining operations in neighbouring Afghanistan are carried out cross border from an operational HQ located in Tajikistan, in the border town of Kalaikhum.

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Tajikistan

Lands poisoned by obsolete pesticides

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Tajikistan

The scourge of obsolete pesticides in Oykamar

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So that she doesn't risk her life with every step.

“I was playing outside with some friends when one of them picked up a piece of metal lying on the floor. Suddenly there was an explosion. We all fell to the ground. I felt like I had been hit in the back. ” Sanita, 11 years old. 

Like Sanita, many children walk in areas contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnance on a daily basis. Since 1997, FSD has worked tirelessly to locate and eliminate these dangerous legacies of war around the world, and to prevent accidents through awareness campaigns. FSD also remediated sites polluted by toxic waste, and supports peace and development in conflict-affected countries.

Together, we can act. Every donation, no matter how small, helps shape a safer future for those who have already suffered so much.

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