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People begin to flee northern town due to water shortages

[Tajikistan] Girls collecting water.
Over half of Taboshar’s 11,000 people lack access to potable water, according to environmental activists. (IRIN)

People are beginning to leave the small town of Taboshar in the northern Tajik province of Soghd due to an acute shortage of drinking water.

Fatima Umirova, 40, told IRIN: “There is no water in the houses at all. It can be found only in few water pumps on the street.”

The on-street water pumps provide water for a few hours each day. “There were days when we had no water at all. People had to queue for hours to get some water... There were many cases of people fighting over water,” Umirova said.

A Tajik non-governmental organisation (NGO), Youth Group for Protection of the Environment, said water supplies had been diminishing every year. "Currently, the town’s water agency cannot meet even 15-20 percent of the population's needs. Under such conditions, natural springs had become the main source of water for the local population,” it said.

However, the dry summer of 2007 and the drought of 2008 had led to the drying up of many springs used to source clean drinking water. Over half of Taboshar’s 11,000 people are without any water at all, according to the NGO.

“Experts conducted some studies and it was found that there was no water coming into Taboshar. The last of the groundwater is currently being pumped to a pumping station, but the station could break down at any time due to its state of disrepair,” Isuljon Ismoilov, head of Taboshar’s water agency, told Internews, an international media support and development network.

Meanwhile, local residents are concerned about the possible rise in infectious diseases if access to clean drinking water is not restored quickly.

“Many people are now leaving Taboshar. What else can they do? We fear for our health and the health of our children,” said Bakhtiyor Nizamov, a local resident.
The Taboshar authorities have called on the government and international organisations for help.

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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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