Tajikistan: Uniting Against Abandoned Pesticides
Committee on Environmental Protection
NGO Rushdi Dior
The breast milk of Tajik mothers contain a mean concentration of DDT that is 4 times higher than permissible levels, according to the World Health Organization in Tajikistan. Exposure to toxic chemicals from the many open, crumbling stockpiles of obsolete pesticides abandoned across the country is a priority health concern in Tajikistan.
The Soviet Union directed the development of the cotton industry in Tajikistan and supplied the sector with tons of agrochemicals and pesticides. Once the Soviet Union collapsed, so did the complex infrastructure of pesticide monitoring and warehouse maintenance.
In 2012, Pure Earth, with the FAO and EU, conducted surveys of 372 pesticide warehouses located throughout Tajikistan. 26 of the pesticide warehouses were selected by Pure Earth from a subset of 132 warehouses in Tajikistan identified as posing the greatest risk to public health. These abandoned, decaying, pesticide storage warehouses, are in many cases, accessible to the public. In residential farming areas, curious children run around piles of dangerous chemicals.
In 2018, Pure Earth convened a meeting, with support from the European Union, bringing together 22 organizations across Tajikistan to receive training in environmental and health assessment methods to address the problem in their communities. The next phase of the project will include the assessment of toxic sites in multiple regions so that priorities can be set for action.