Tajikistan is a landlocked country located in central Asia and characterized by a mountainous landscape. More than 70% of the population, accounting for 8.9 million in total, live in rural areas with a high dependence on agriculture (World Bank, 2019). Tajikistan represents the most vulnerable country in the region, experiencing a multitude of disasters including earthquakes, mudflows, and others. In addition to the increasing impacts of climate change and water scarcity, which are reported to have a considerable effect on livelihoods and the economy (UNICEF, 2019).
Despite the increased vulnerability, the comparatively young Republic achieved sustained economic growth (World Bank, 2019). While certain sectoral developments are enhancing and significant progress has been made in access to drinking water sources since 2000, sanitation with associated impacts remains highly problematic (WHO, 2020). The Water Sector Reforms Program reports on challenges due to limited national budgets, obsolescence and deterioration of existing infrastructure, lack of comprehensive legal and regulatory frameworks, increased levels of water losses, and low water fee collection rates. As a result, only 51,4% of the population has access to potable water, with a large disparity between rural and urban areas. While more than three-quarters (79.8%) of the population in cities has access to sewerage systems, much fewer people in towns and rural areas enjoy the same access (18.2% and 0.2% respectively), where the majority of the Tajik population resides.
The majority of people in pre-urban and rural areas in Tajikistan rely on onsite sanitation systems such as unlined pit latrines and septic tanks. Despite progress in increasing access to improved toilets, investments in the subsequent steps, such as the safe collection, disposal, and treatment of wastewater and fecal sludge from on-site sanitation systems, remain a significant challenge.
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