This year, the Asian Development Bank is preparing to celebrate 25 years of partnership with the Republic of Tajikistan. Head of the ADB Office in Tajikistan Shanny Campbell talked to Asia-Plus about how this cooperation has evolved, and what results have been achieved.


- The ADB resident mission in Tajikistan opened in 2003, and I am the 7th ADB country director here. I assumed the post on February 15, 2021 but physically arrived in Tajikistan in June 2021.  Actually, it had been around 17 years since I last worked in Tajikistan (on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan power interconnection line).


- In 2018, it was decided that ADB cooperation with Tajikistan will be based on a grant basis. Will this arrangement continue in the foreseeable future? - Based on the IMF’s debt sustainability assessment, ADB moved to 100% grant financing for Tajikistan in 2018 from 50/50 grant/loan ratio during 2015–2017. If Tajikistan’s debt classification improves to allow concessional lending along with grants, we will move to blended assistance.


- ADB is the undisputed leader among the world's financial institutions in terms of investment in Tajikistan. How much investment has the Republic received in 25 years, and what projects over the years can ADB be proud of? - Since Tajikistan joined ADB in 1998, the bank has become the country’s largest multilateral development partner with over $2.5 billion in assistance, including over $1.8 billion in grants.


We have over 180 joint projects with the government of Tajikistan, and every project is important. It’s difficult to single-out one or two projects. The ADB-Tajikistan partnership has helped improve the country’s transport and energy infrastructure, support social development, overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, expand agricultural production, strengthen resilience to climate change, and enhance regional cooperation and trade.


Tajikistan ranks first among Central Asian countries in terms of climate change vulnerability


- Who and how determines the directions of ADB’s support? How are grant proposals prepared and do the proposals of Tajik experts pass international expertise? - We listen and coordinate with the government, development partners, civil society, and other stakeholders and jointly determine the directions of our support.

Ms. Shanny Campbell and Davlatali Said.


- Judging by the number of grants, a significant amount of funding in Tajikistan is aimed at increasing resilience to climate change and strengthening water supply and sanitation infrastructure. Is this correct and why? - ADB attaches great importance to addressing climate change and strengthening disaster resilience, which is reflected in our long-term corporate strategy: Strategy 2030. One of our seven corporate priority areas is “tackling climate change, building climate and disaster resilience, and enhancing environmental sustainability.”


ADB has two ambitious targets for actions on climate change. First, by targeting 75% of ADB committed operations that will be supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation by 2030; and second, climate finance from ADB’s own resources will reach $100 billion to 2030.


Tajikistan is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change in Central Asia and suffers from enormous negative effects.  The impact of climate change is largely present through increases in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, unpredictability of precipitation, and changes to water regimes, caused in part by rapid snowmelt and glacier retreat owing to rising temperatures.

ADB awards grants for modernization of irrigation system.


To help reduce the adverse effects of climate change in Tajikistan, ADB pursues an integrated approach that combines food security, water, and climate change adaptation efforts. ADB’s total assistance in the sector amounts to $240 million, or 11% of our total portfolio in the country. ADB’s assistance has helped to modernize many irrigation and drainage systems in the country, improve flood protection infrastructure, drinking water supply, modernize the Hydromet capacity, and several other areas.


- Tell us about ADB contribution to the development of transport in Tajikistan? - For landlocked Tajikistan, connectivity with neighboring countries is essential for economic growth. But the country’s geographical constraints such as mountainous terrain, severe winters, and remoteness from international seaports and markets are a challenge.


ADB started its assistance to the transport sector of Tajikistan in late 1990s. To date, ADB has invested over $800 million in the sector. ADB projects have focused on rehabilitating major regional links and modernizing border crossings under the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program, improving road safety and maintenance, strengthening road asset management, and repairing rural roads to help reduce poverty.


Energy is among ADB priorities in Tajikistan


- Do non-governmental organizations participate in ADB activities? - ADB commits to working with civil society. CSOs, both operationally focused and advocacy organizations, work with ADB across several areas, such as: stakeholder engagement throughout the project cycle, implementation of ADB-supported projects, particularly in the delivery of social services, monitoring and evaluation, and policy design and review.

CSOs play an invaluable role in helping ADB to strengthen policies and operations and are crucial partners in the development process.


- In what directions will ADB cooperation with Tajikistan develop and what place will energy projects take in this cooperation? - ADB’s Country Partnership Strategy 2021–2025 for Tajikistan is aligned with ADB's Corporate Strategy 2030 and the country's National Development Strategy 2030. Guided by this, ADB pursues three strategic priorities: supporting structural reforms to enhance resource allocation and mobilization; improving labor productivity through human capital development; and fostering better livelihoods through investment in a land-linked economy.


Energy has been one of our priorities in Tajikistan. ADB’s total energy assistance to the country amounted to $585 million as of end 2021. ADB projects have focused on modernization of generation, transmission, and distribution facilities, sector restructuring and reforms, and developing regional energy market.


In 2020, ADB committed a $105 million grant program to accelerate the implementation of the ongoing reforms. The program includes the separation of the generation, transmission, and distribution businesses; debt restructuring; introduction of a new tariff methodology that ensures cost recovery; investments in metering and billing infrastructure; redesign of the fund-flow mechanism with a settlement system; and introducing five-year management contract in a newly established power distribution company.