MANILA, PHILIPPINES - ADB will continue to emphasize rural development, basic infrastructure, and regional cooperation in its assistance program for Tajikistan, according to a Country Strategy and Program (CSP) Update for 2006-2008 endorsed by ADB's Board of Directors.
The indicative lending level for national and regional projects from ADB's concessional Asian Development Fund over the three years totals almost $79 million, according to the CSP Update. This includes a grant component of $23 million from ADF.
To complement the loans, the technical assistance program allocates a total of about $4 million in grants for 2006 and 2007 plus participation in regional TAs. This would be supplemented with Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction grants of $3 million in 2005 and $500,000 in 2006.
The medium-term lending and nonlending programs are designed in consultation with the Government and based on ADF performance-based allocation for Tajikistan.
While poverty has significantly declined in Tajikistan - from 82% in 1999 to 64% in 2003 - poverty levels are still the highest among the Central Asian republics and the country remains one of the poorest in the world. High growth (10.6% in 2004) and rising per capita income hide rising inequality, while provision of adequate social services remains a challenge.
Agricultural reforms have been slow, as seen in the increase in cotton farm debt from $180 million at the end of 2003 to $214 million at the end of 2004. The cotton debt has significantly reduced the incomes for cotton farmers, keeping them systematically poorer than other farmers, and brought down overall agricultural production. ADB is actively participating in assisting the Government implement its Farm Debt Resolution Strategy.
The country also faces significant challenges in providing basic education to all boys and girls, and achieving health related Millennium Development Goals, given that the condition of HIV/AIDS is worsening and the prevalence of other diseases remains high.
"Priorities under ADB's assistance program for Tajikistan will be strengthening rural development and regional cooperation while rehabilitating basic infrastructure, improving governance, and contributing to the Government's social sector program," says Neeraj Jain, ADB Country Director in Tajikistan.
Lending programs in the pipeline include projects tackling rural development, power rehabilitation, education sector reforms, and modernization of tax administration. Regional loans include projects for regional gas transmission, customs modernization, and rehabilitation of the Dushanbe-Kyrgyz Border Road.
Besides project preparation, technical assistance activities planned for the three year period include grants to strengthen local government agencies in rural development, build public awareness on HIV/AIDS and other diseases, and boost health care reforms.
Since Tajikistan became a member of ADB in 1998, 17 loans have been approved, amounting to $244.3 million, all provided at concessional terms from ADF.