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Non governmental organisations of Tajikistan

Guissou Jahangiri, OCHA/FCU

Dushanbe June 1998

The aim of this paper is to make a short introduction to the Tajikistani non-governmental organizations (1) which are still in the making, attempt to identify the shortcomings and expose to the international community the possibilities of collaboration and empowerment of the nascent civil society in Tajikistan.

The importance of building a structured civil society as a determining factor in democracy is a parallel process but distinct from creating a private sector in terms of businesses and income generating activities (2). Political and social turmoil in Tajikistan's recent history since its independence in September 1991, abrupt paralysis of government subsidies and disruption of the administration, mass exodus and population movements, major cuts in social expenditure and delays in payment of wages, high rates of unemployment and under-employment and a general social distress (some latent and surfacing as control loosened in the state of anarchy following the collapse of the Soviet Union) have created needs among the population, the centralised administration can no longer cater for. Anxiety and uncertainty mark this period of transition from a centrally planned and generally organised society towards the assertion of independence, a gift Tajikistan had not sought.

In this general setting non governmental organisations could play a role to not only fill in some of the visible gaps in the process of readjustment and reform in alternative ways but also act as an actor of social cohesion, responding to cases of emergency and longer term development in various sectors of social life. They can also be considered as pioneers of alternative program models in society. Indulging in activities outside the government's scope is not solely a necessity in a crisis-ridden environment, it is perhaps one of the main components of a practising democracy, and creating social networks can be considered as an inherent part of a democratically run society both allowing and dependent on freedom of activity and expression. In this respect civil society also acts as a partner for the government in activities benefiting society in general. It also ensures accountability of governmental and NGO actions and voices the concerns of the population to those governing them and acting on their behalf. Ideally a democracy only holds if the administered create a system to check and direct their elected government. Individuals and groups can thus contribute directly to the development of their communities and country and participate fully as citizens.

However a not too friendly legal, political, psychological and economic environment has undermined the process of shaping of civil society in Tajikistan. The traditional modes of socialisation, proper to the area, have the potential of evolving into a constructed and constructive civil society through non governmental organisations as one of its components. One of the main barriers to this is a general lack of theoretical understanding and social practice of what a non-governmental organisation is, what role it plays in a society, what sort of activities it encompasses, what is its role vis-à-vis government; how partnerships can be created between the government agencies, the local NGOs and the international organisations, is it a threat to the existing government and its administration or does it compliment its actions, how does an NGO fund itself etc. Many of what are known as NGOs in Tajikistan (a mixture of Soviet style associations, Unions, business circles, clubs) have only recently been created. It is necessary that Tajikistani NGOs and their international counterparts (donors and limited partners) be able to lay strong foundations for the future by finding clear answers to many of these questions and establishing a culture of non governmental organisations throughout the country.


Non-governmental initiatives in Tajikistan were banned during the Soviet period, as the party and state machinery exercised strict control and covered most domains of activity, economic and social security, considered as necessary for the well-being of society. This however did not mean that civil initiatives such as community involvement in ameliorating common living conditions, or networks (informal or not) did not function as coping mechanisms especially in Tajikistan. The rural character of the country, shared difficulties in terms of access to resources, extended family, neighbourhood, and regional networks etc. in fact functioned during the Soviet period as alternative venues for responding to specific needs of communities not covered by the state apparatus. The "mahallah " networks (3), the " hashar " system (community labour/mobilisation free of charge for action benefiting a group or community of people) and the assembling and consultative function of the tea-houses where the elderly men the " muy-safeed " consulted (and mosques when allowed) in the communities were in fact well incorporated by the political system allowing for observance of social and religious traditions and practices, general well-being of the communities and acting also at times as pressure groups making demands upon local or central governmental bodies. These mechanisms allowed collective response to needs which fell out of the scope of the official party line but co-existed nonetheless alongside official bodies in the country. As such this can function as a fertile setting for formulation of more constructed non-governmental organisations.

The centrally planned economy and the production units, i.e. the kolkhozes and sovkhozes, also allowed for groups of people to work and live together in defined boundaries. These units not only functioned in economic terms but also created sociability and a sense of belonging, enforcing group action and limiting individualism in a setting marked by inter-dependency.

Official associations and clubs during the Soviet period such as the women's and youth clubs (including the " Pioneers " and the " Komsomols ") and extra-curricular activities (sports, arts for the youth) planned and financed by the government were very common and popular (perhaps more in the urban areas) and many people have at one point taken part in Soviet style associative activities.

In this regard we face an extremely propitious environment in Tajikistan for encouraging a more formulated, vocal, active and diverse representation of civil society in all walks of life. However, initiatives resembling the NGO experience outside the ex-Soviet Union in neighbouring countries such as in India or European countries, parallel to the power system, were virtually non existent until very recently. All activities benefiting society were financed and decided upon by the government which rubber-stamped directives from Moscow. Scarcity of resources and means to their accession, a social, political and economic culture of dependency on governmental funds and decisions, and lack of exposure to the experience of other countries in terms of the role and function of non-governmental organisations as a fundamental component of capitalism and the democratic experience have somewhat limited the scope of initiatives by civil society in Tajikistan. An inherited lack of trust for initiatives outside government activities, until recently considered subversive and " political " by definition, has also meant that little encouragement has been manifested by the decision-makers to boost civil society except for activities of a strictly " charitable " nature (4). Although the administration is unable in many instances to fulfil their former responsibilities, the activities of NGOs are often considered as a challenge to government control even if the NGOs are conservative and respectful of unwritten rules and boundaries they should not cross. There has also been confusion as to the nature of a non-governmental organisation, which to some extent has been created by the donors (5). Small or medium-sized business initiatives by citizens, have also come to be considered as NGO activity (by the NGOs themselves, the donors and the government), creating a confusion (theoretical and practical) about the scope and role of civil society (6).

The lack of clarity as to the nature of NGOs and the fact that they are more often than not led by urban ex-soviet elites (as a one-man show) has also created an NGO market phenomenon of " auto-consumption of aid by an intervening layer of NGO professionals " (7). This is perhaps inevitable at this stage.

The birth of non-governmental initiatives

In the course of the late 1980's associations assembling minority groups, veterans of war, unions of scientists and those dealing with issues such as ecological problems etc. were set up by prominent official individuals, often linked to political circles. During Glasnost and Perestroika, some prominent figures felt encouraged by Moscow to set up parallel and alternative structures somewhat semi-official to allow for some voices of dissent to address certain issues until then either monopolised by the Party and the mainstream nomenclature or simply forbidden. The first informal debate and idea-producing circles (which could be considered as NGOs focusing on civil society and democracy building), initiated by a group of intellectuals, were set up at the end of the 1980s.

" Ma'refat " (Education) formed in 1988, encompassed mostly literary circles from the four corners of the Republic voicing social, cultural and political grievances albeit shyly. One of the other early social-political circles formed outside the government following was " Ruberu " (Face to Face) which evolved from a Komsomol group and was mainly run by the younger generation. (8) " Ruberu " was in fact set up in the Kulob district, voiced the same concerns and could be considered as a " politicised " group. " Ashkara " (In Openness) also a " literary circle " based in Dushanbe had members from different areas of the country. The group functioned outside the Communist party and voiced independent debate questioning the monopoly of power and its shortcomings and sought ways of asserting an independent nation and culture especially through the promotion of the national Tajik language. The three organisations brought to the arena of public awareness many problems including the economic disparity and questions related to individual freedom and expression etc. and attempted at introducing reform.

They could be considered as the pioneers of non-governmental initiative by civil society during the last phases of the break down of the Soviet Empire. It is important to note that these initiative were taken mainly by some of the intellectuals and that any concern, even those strictly related to cultural spheres became quickly very political in that setting, as it questioned the unique monopoly of Communist power. (9) It is perhaps also necessary to add that any ideas or actions related to " independence and patriotism-nationalism, promotion of the pre-Soviet heritage " were considered as " subversive ". The "Foundation for Culture" or the "Foundation for the Tajik Language" (probably one of the first Tajik NGOs financed by private donors with branches around the country) Ms. Golrokhssar and Loyiq Sherali respectively, both very well-known poets of Tajikistan, gathered together groups of people, mostly intellectuals and men and women of letters (academic circles, teachers) who were seeking actions and projects in closer relations with the needs of the community and acting outside the party line. They were however endorsed by circles inside the government, albeit with some resistance from hard liners and the Russian speakers, and acted as partners in various nation-wide activities. They possessed structures, which resembled the party (with branches and representatives in all areas) and became new mechanisms for implementing the ideas and approaches emanating from Moscow but defined locally. The organisations dealing officially with culture have in fact been crucial vectors in formulating national identity and have contributed to the process of nation building in Tajikistan. Many have attempted to also play a role in conflict resolution. They have received very little if any attention from the international donor community who in general has shied away from these groups for fear of being identified with certain " political " groupings.

Creation of NGOs in the 1990s

The independence of Tajikistan and formal changes in the political system of governance, the civil, war and the ensuing economic crisis deepened by these upheavals created gaps in services and social networks allowing for the creation of many non-governmental organisations in the country. More than 300 are officially registered to our knowledge, but mainly in two or three major cities (only 35 outside Dushanbe and Khujand (10) ). Not all are non-governmental by strict definition, many have an agenda lacking focus and their programmes are so wide in intention and scope they resemble a government plan meant to address all the needs of the country. A large number are inactive due to scarcity of funds and lack of encouragement from the environment (lack of access to the media, non-existent networks of information-sharing and overlapping experiences between the NGOs in different areas of the country, non-recognition by local Hukumats).

An international donor has, at one time or other assisted most of those that have been able to achieve any part of their programme. This has been dangerous, as it has created expectancy that access to international donor funding is the sole possible means of survival. Very little has been done in terms of training and self-sustainability to allow them to function once donors lose interest in them. Tax-reduction incentives used by western countries for large businesses that would then channel a percentage of their profit into " charity work " or foundations and in general the possibility of donations is virtually non-existent in the present situation of the country. Some NGOs have been able to attract funding from " business " acquaintances suffering at times from the strings attached to that input. Some, such as the former youth clubs (komsomols) in the Khatlon area have been shaped into Community Development Centres (CDCs) by the Peace building project of UNDP (11) and have been functioning as implementing partners with some of the international humanitarian organisations as backup man power (projects varying from distribution of coal bricks to schools to food for work for canal cleaning). In general the international community has yet to acquaint itself with the possibilities of collaboration with valid grass-roots local NGOs (12), use their expertise and allow for a transfer of know-how and alternative methods of work which could be useful for the country (13).

Activities of Tajikistani NGOs

The NGOs can be categorised into the following spheres of activities : Women's associations, clubs and unions - some of which are semi-official and are run and deal mostly with the promotion of urban women (women and elections, lady leaders but also some examples of crisis centres, widows and income generation for female-headed households with many children) (14); Children - street children in Dushanbe, extra-curricula activities, internats ; Sciences - encompassing associations of physics, mathematics ... ; Refugees - have only two organisations with a limited scope ; Poverty and pensioners - include the Red Crescent Societies ; Media - which includes the Union of journalists and diverse television centres ; Legal - mostly grouping of judges and lawyers ; Health ; Ecology - some are among the best examples of NGOs because of early exposure to collaboration and training organised by International organisations such as the IOM ; Education ; the Disabled ; Cultural - association of film makers, theatre; Ethnic groups (such as promotion of the Uzbek or Korean minorities) ; and NGOs and foundations dealing with civil society - encouraged by donor money for peace-building and democracy ; Co-ordination of other NGO bodies and Research. More recently, in remote areas of the country dealing with pressing issues such as health and refugees initiatives have been shaped in order to fill in gaps left by the Administration. Some have been able to attract support from the international humanitarian and donor community and act as partners in development.

Not all NGOs which have been through the process of official registration at the Ministry of Justice are necessarily active (lacking funds and initiative), on the contrary some of the unregistered have been more involved in community development (many donors will work with non-registered NGOs if their agendas meet their guidelines). Newly established organisations face many problems. One major problem common to all is the economic crisis their country is facing today. The high cost of the registration process which can run up to 500 USD (based on national scope and nature of activity) per registration constitutes another problem. Also the NGO programme or work plan is scrutinised closely by the registration officials who demand modification or omission of clauses in their proposed agenda of activities in order to comply with written and unwritten laws inherited in part from the past and encouraged by insufficient legislation.

The system, a Soviet heritage, in fact has instituted many barriers (financial, security, monopoly of government institutions, unfair competition and corruption) discouraging new initiatives by civil society. It also acts as a safeguard against political parties which, due to restrictions on their activities, may register as NGOs with a political agenda. Examples of NGOs having " hidden agendas " have not been brought to our attention and the imposed restrictions may serve as an excuse to discourage initiatives by civil society which fall outside the inherited centralised and controlled system. For example a recently held " round table " initiated by one or two NGOs funded by Counterpart Consortium on " Women and Elections " held in Qorghon Teppa in the south of the country was considered by some official circles as meddling into political affairs and not allowed to take place in form of a " seminar ". Another form of less visible problem faced by the newer NGOs is the resistance and even outright opposition to their activities and even existence by older elites of the country who see their monopoly cracking in the NGO " market ". Some circles in the government have also made public statements against the NGOs qualifying them as " agents sold to foreign interests ".

Current legislation on NGO activities (15)

Many NGOs believe that the current law, the law on Social Associations adopted in 1990, is inadequate in scope and does not furnish a legally secure environment and guarantees for NGO activities in Tajikistan, as a single law covers voluntary associations of people in political parties, trade unions, unions and only includes groups dealing with women, children, youth, and veterans. (16) The legislators, according to some NGOs, in fact had political organisations in mind when formulating this law as there was no experience of NGOs at that time. The law is in fact a translation of a similar law from Russia. There has been a need expressed for a specific NGO law more flexible and wider in scope. The lack of a clear legal basis, limiting arbitrary interpretation, is perhaps a reflection of the general understanding of what an NGO is. For example the NGOs have been defined solely as social associations (which function with a membership system) ; however social associations are but one form of organisation and not all NGOs have a membership system. Counterpart Consortium acted as a facilitator for the NGOs which have made recommendations in a draft law proposal to the Commission on Legislation and Human Rights of the Majlis-i Oli at present studying changes (without it being ratified in the recent May session of Parliament). They have identified the following shortcomings in the law : the present law enumerates the forms of activities allowed, whereas many organisations believe that the text of the law concerning spheres of activity should become an open-ended unrestricted list. In laws regarding NGOs, the accreditation of a corresponding (by sector or ministry) Government institution is more important than the definition of activities.

The current law allows activity only after registration. The high costs in fact force many to shy away from the process. It is not clear to what extent the NGOs can be involved in commercial activities which could be a crucial component in financing them especially because of scarcity of financial resources. Many believe that business activities may be a dangerous endeavour because of security and lack of opportunities. The law is also silent as to the forms of collaboration with the Government. In fact one of the grievances expressed by the NGOs by the UNDP/UNHCR/RCVC financed and organised conference held in Dushanbe in March 1998, was that the NGO community was kept in the dark as to what the government thinks of the NGO community and its activities and how they could co-operate. This is where international organisations could assist in helping both NGOs and the Government meet a balance and agreement on the scope and nature of collaboration. Efforts in this view have been undertaken by some international bodies. Sectoral meetings on Education and the Rights of the Child initiated by the Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations has in the last few months encouraged creating forums of collaboration between the International Organisations, the Government representatives from the corresponding ministries and the local NGOs in the two above-mentioned domains. Finally, there is also need for tax exemption thus encouraging civil initiatives and non-profit activities in the country and appropriate guidance for fund raising.

Another important barrier in the process of NGO activity is the lack of experience in setting up initiatives without the financial and moral backing or linkage with the government and its administrations. This is perhaps somewhat encouraged by those NGOs run by the traditional elites based in the major cities who enjoy privileged relations with the government. This means that the scarcity of resources, grants, founders and expertise on fund raising in this period of uncertainty from a centralised economy towards a certain form of capitalism has only allowed those NGOs with privileged contacts with international organisations and/or contacts with the government to raise funds or be used as partners in implementing or initiating programmes. The very elitist nature of some of the NGOs in terms of the composition of their leaders means that at times the needs evaluated by the organisation for the communities they target do not reflect the reality and have very little useful impact. Some NGOs have developed more expertise in proposal writing to attract international donors (with limited knowledge of the country and the cultural layers) rather than reaching outside the concerns of urban areas where development and relief is needed in a more urgent manner.

Women's NGOs

Nearly all the non governmental organisations dealing specifically with women, their rights, protection of the family and general improvement of their status were founded in the recent past in the mid 1990s. The majority is based in Dushanbe and Khujand (two in Khatlon) with virtually none that we are aware of in the Gharateguine valley. Several governmental institutions aim officially at strengthening local NGOs and assist in developing projects for women. (17) However some of these bodies, generally managed by the old elites of the country, have not yet been significantly successful in promoting initiatives falling outside the inherited network of individuals closely linked to politics and power circles, despite a claim to promoting and strengthening local NGOs. Limited resources and unawareness about ways of accessing them, which could allow diversity and what the Tajiks call " multitude of voices " have meant that many groups have not been able to fully activate their projects.

The limited resources made available by the international community have mostly been channelled to interlocutors with good connections, fair English (an irrelevant criteria of collaboration) and understanding and practice of the international and western psyche (18). This has also meant that the international organisations' at times limited knowledge of the country and its culture has resulted in influencing and shaping some of the local NGOs' programmes and priorities which might perhaps be valid in a different context outside Tajikistan but not necessarily useful or conducive in this setting. The large presence of the funding organisations in the capital city and some presence in Khujand has also meant that NGOs outside Dushanbe have had less exposure to the array of possibilities, albeit limited, presently offered by the international community in terms of training, funds, and experience sharing. In general a top-down approach has been privileged to the detriment of grass roots initiatives.

The Committee on Work with Women and Family, a governmental structure with similar concerns inherited from the Soviet period, is probably the most extended network, with branches in all regions and districts. Their main aim is to execute official decrees and protect women's rights through governmental institutions. The structure however lacks funding like in the past and as a result limited scope of action.

One of the main concerns of recent women's activities has been the role of women in politics and the reconciliation process. However background activities such as general consciousness raising, the legal status of women, equality in the job market, equality in social spheres such as the nuclear and extended family, more recent lack of equal opportunities in equal access to education, the role of traditions and religion, domestic violence and rape, access to health care and information and training as mothers etc. still continue to remain taboo or have been attended to, nationally, in a very limited manner. The role of women in politics can be considered as an issue for the small elites of Dushanbe or Khujand city who have traditionally been involved in high ranking spheres of power and have been only involved in women's issues because they are women.

Recommendations to international organisations involved in funding and assistance to NGOs in Tajikistan

· Set up local branches in different areas of the country in order to identify and encourage initiatives by and for the civil society outside major cities.

· Enhance the "mahallah" structures already in place throughout the country and encourage community development and grass roots initiatives.

· Make legal assistance easily available to NGOs.

· Actively disseminate information on the nature of NGO activities and their experiences in other countries including the CIS, and make this available to local NGOs, to the national and local governments, authorities and leaders and the population, through the "mahallah", international organisations implanted in more remote areas of the country, local governmental structures, libraries, the media, centres for higher education and/or alternative resource centres.

· Multiply and set up exchange visits, workshops and seminars involving successful activists from neighbouring countries and Eastern European and/or the ex-Soviet Union with similar past experiences on the nature and role of NGOs in post-communist and shaping democratic systems to learn lessons of success and failure.

· Assist the government of Tajikistan in introducing appropriate legislation protecting civil initiatives such as facilitating registration and exemption from high registration fees and full taxes for non-profit organisations and securing a safe and encouraging environment for NGO activities. Advocate for active dialogue between Government Organisations and NGOs on these issues. Foster training for key decision-makers to support NGOs.

· Clearly distinguish between income generating initiatives and business and non-profit non-governmental organisations at the national and local levels.

· Create networks between organisations both inside and outside the country to encourage experience sharing and partnership.

· Actively disseminate information on and encourage possibilities of implementation partnership and transfer of know-how between the international aid community and Tajikistani NGOs.

· Create a detailed database and all-inclusive directory and disseminate information on Tajikistani NGOs in all regions of the country with a detailed description of goals, activities, accomplishments and sources of funding.

· Strengthen local NGOs in networking and resource sharing with other NGOs in Tajikistan.

· In partnership with local NGOs establish and distribute an information journal, newsletter or bulletin for NGOs in Tajik and Russian.

· Set up a co-ordinating body among international organisations funding and collaborating with NGOs in Tajikistan


The Tajik Social Investment Fund (TASIF)

As the implementing partner of the World Bank in the Pilot Poverty Alleviation Project, TASIF works at the community level (mahallahs, jamoats and cities) to rehabilitate and develop micro-projects in social, economic and ecological infrastructure. (19) TASIF has chosen to keep overhead costs low and reach the grass roots level by installing a method of work involving members of communities directly at all stages of micro-projects benefiting the very needy. In this manner ideas for projects come directly through local initiatives and are solved by the communities. and use the same community as implementing partners by identifying local specialists, a supervising team from the community and a liaison person with TASIF. The communities managing, supervising and implementing projects (such as water supply systems, electrical or gas supply in isolated communities, rehabilitation of health and centres for the disabled and children etc.) include self-management authorities in villages, mahallahs and bodies set up by the inhabitants of the community. Many international agencies could in fact use the same method of work in the very structured informal networks in the communities (20) allowing for low cost micro-projects involving members of the community which in turn empowers the sense of initiative and could be strengthened for other projects (21). Also a good example of government involvement at the local level since micro projects approved by the community and submitted by local and regional bodies of government are also financed by TASIF.

(1) We wish to thank all international and national organisations and NGOs, and individuals who readily and kindly shared information and gave their comments on this paper .
(2) Which could be a side activity for an NGO to finance its projects.
(3) Which can mean the neighbourhood or community. See Guissou Jahangiri OCHA/FCU, Local and Regional Power Networks : the Mahallah - December 1997.
(4) The officials are less wary of activities relating to issues such as women, old age pensioner and children's welfare. The activities of these NGOs and forums of collaboration they will be able to create with the government may be fundamental to changes in the perception of the government about NGOs active in other spheres.
(5) This could be explained by the fact that eager and well-funded donors in search of non-governmental entities seeking promotion of the " free world " values - originally showed little concern for " politically correct " and strictly defined NGOs. The non-existence of an experienced Tajikistan community meant that no guidance or clarification could be expected from the receiving end either.
(6) The confusion stems from the international donor and assistance community active in the country (mainly US organisations and some European donors), eager to encourage the installation of the models and practices of the free market economy in a post-Soviet environment. It is interesting to note that a list of active NGOs produced by Counterpart Consortium has a large section devoted to " Business promotion" NGOs.
(7) Report on DSA Conference, September 1996, prepared by Pratt, B. and Goodhand J., INTRAC (Institutional Development of NGOs in Central Asia), Oxford, p.6 cited by Akiner S., Central Asia : Conflict or Stability and development ?, Minority Rights Group International, January 1997, p. 39.
(8) Some Tajikistanis believe that the current mistrust of the NGOs on behalf of the Government may stem from this period when these organisations aggressively questioned many aspects of the system and wished to introduce fast changes.
(9) These experiences and the potential for radicalisation of ideas in the country is perhaps one of the reasons why Government-NGO relations are still fragile. There is a general understanding that NGO's may have a hidden political agenda. Restrictions on the establishment and registration of political parties may in fact encourage some citizens to group behind an NGO to promote their alternative political opinions. However none has been brought to our attention as yet.
(10) This could in part be explained by the following factors: lack of exposure to new ideas as the rural areas are still run by the same social, political and economic mechanisms, lack of exposure to external motivations and as a consequence springing up of NGOs which are fund driven where the international donors are present.
(11) They have been assisted by UNDP to be registered as local NGOs.
(12) Many of the international aid agencies in the country have been exposed to the same limited elite group of NGOs. Efforts should be made to identify and assist in empowering alternative structures concentrated outside the " happy few ", which have been able to attract and concentrate funds for projects with a limited scope.
(13) And yet they venture into actions with little or short-term concerns for sustainability and capacity building.
(14) Women play a prominent role in the life of various NGOs (focusing not only on women's issues) in Tajikistan, among the registered NGOs, more than a 112 are headed by women.
(15) We are indebted to Mr.Farhod Boghiev from Counterpart consortium for his comments on the matter, expressed at the " First National Local NGO Conference " held in Dushanbe on 2nd and 3rd March 1998 and funded jointly by UNDP and UNHCR and supported by OCHA.
(16) It is interesting to note that the examples of activities covered by the law are limited to the spheres we had mentioned before and limited in scope.
(17) The Women in Development Bureau based in Dushanbe (the WID is a governmental body funded by UNDP) which was created in 1995 is officially aiming at : promoting the interests of Tajik women during the transition towards a market economy ; assisting in promoting local NGOs and developing projects for women ; and finally acting as liaison between local and international organisations. It is perhaps to early to measure the success of this organisation in promoting diverse initiatives around the country.
(18) In a meeting convened by the first group of women involved in setting up the WID programme in 1996 with the international community some of the members of the project presented the conclusions of a needs assessment for ameliorating women's conditions. They proposed as a major project courses on English and business for women. It is still unclear to what extent a woman's life in the village (the majority of population of Tajikistan live in rural areas and are bound to the land) struggling to bring up five or six children in poverty, facing many unattended elementary health problems, working long hours of the day, and occasionally beaten and abused by her husband and bearing with the customary tyrannical relations with her in-laws could use her language skills to make changes to her life. The assessment is clearly based on the needs of a minority of elite women based in large cities.
(19) TASIF also finances and co-ordinates programmes with Save the Children Fund/UK, Save the Children Federation/US and the Aga Khan Foundation.
(20) SEE : Local and Regional Power Networks : the Mahallah, Guissou Jahangiri FCU/DHA, December 1997.
(21) This could be done in a manner that fills in the gaps without the management being taken over by the international bodies.