Dear Friends!

In the last issue of the «Cooperation» in the end of 2013, we decided to present you the Communities Programme. The Communities Programme is one of the key UNDP programmes. It implements its activity at the local level and facilitates the local development process. Probably many of you have been involved in Communities Programme activities and already know about those innovations, which the programme introduced at the local level, i.e. at the level of certain oblast, city, district and jamoat.

We all know about the challenges our society is facing, and what should be done to ensure social and economic security to every citizen of the country to be protected both socially and economically. What should be done so that the local communities could realize their capacity by gaining new skills and knowledge, understand the nature and importance of the reforms conducted at the national level, and benefit from their results at the local level? How to involve them into the local development process? The Programme is dealing with these and many other issues, related to the social and economic development of the communities. The priority goal of the Communities Programme is establishment and capacity building, improvement of local development tools, support of local government reform, development of social dialogue mechanisms and feedback to ensure management transparency and accountability, and on this basis to provide, quality public services to the population.

For many years, including the expiring 2013, Communities Programme has been successfully implementing the planned activities to achieve the goals .

In particular, the Program has supported the local authorities to implement the mechanisms for identifying local development priorities, with active participation of civil society and private sector, introducing the Trust Fund mechanism for implementation of development projects, building public-private dialogue, expansion local development planning principles.

In this publication, we decided to share about the Programme activities from the point of view of the members of the communities, who throughout 2013 were actively involved into various activities implemented by the Programme. Our heroes are representatives of the various groups of society, civil servants, entrepreneurs and ordinary citizens of our country who benefit from the results of their achievements. We are confident that these stories and the results achieved by our heroes will serve as successful example for replication for many people and encourage them to make their own contribution to the prosperity of our republic.

Taking this opportunity, we congratulate all the compatriots with the forthcoming New 2014 Year and wish the success in implementing plans and achieving goals. The coming New Year promises us new opportunities and perspectives,let it be enriched with new plans, creative ideas, stability, prosperity and well-being!

Mubin Rustamov,

OiC Assistant Resident Representative Programme,UNDP in Tajikistan

2. Equal development opportunities for rural women

Assessment of public services delivery level using the new method was launched in the Rasht Valley. Through the initiative, supported by UNDP, now the population as the principal user of services has the opportunity to assess the quality of services provided. The unicity of the approach is based on participatory detection of weaknesses by the service providers and service users.

This year for the first time in Tajikistan, the new method of community score cards was piloted in the sphere of education in the Rasht district,. This method implies involvement of students and parents (as "service users"), teachers and school management (as "service providers" ) in identifying the criteria to assess the work of the school, and current situation in accordance with these criteria and joint development of the action plan to improve the school activity. Moreover, this method is widely used for assessing the efficiency of service delivery in many Asian countries and has already proven reliable for the school education.

Community score cards method gives an opportunity to breathe new life into the activities of Parents Teachers Association (PTA), Students committees, and establishes close cooperation between them. This method was piloted at school # 26 in Yaldamich village of Rasht district.

According to Mr. Saidehson Jalolov, Chairman of the PTA ‘, the main issues to improve the educational process have been identified jointly with parents, students and teachers. Among the main problem solutions, reflected in the Action Plan to improve the quality of services the following services were mentioned, such as designing the project for construction of sports gym and support to include this project into district development plan; organization of “hashar” for playground equipment ; organization of school canteen in cooperation with local entrepreneurs; activation of elective classes on languages, physics and chemistry; installation of stoves in the classrooms, which are not heated; creation of the joint working group on estimation the required volume of fuel and costs for generator, for computers’ operation in winter period, when there is no electricity; develop rights and duties of the students and teachers; delegate authorities to update information board to the Students’ Committee; periodic joint discussion of school budget expenditures and additional resources, and the most important – regular joint planning and monitoring of implementation of the school plans.

New method allowed establishing the dialogue between students, parents and school staff, and bring the spirit of democracy into the school management. It also provided an opportunity for teachers and parents to take a fresh look at their students and children who appeared to have huge capacity and desire to do something for their school. Moreover, all participants understood that close cooperation and participation of students in school life provides opportunities for children to get not only knowledge on subjects, but also receive the skills of democracy, governance and open communication with adults.

The reassessment of the school activity using the method of community score cards will be held in a few months to track the progress of the school indicators and monitor implementation of the action plan. But before the next assessment, PTA and Students’ Committee of school # 26 in Yaldamich village have to work hard jointly.

Method of joint assessment of the school activity and participatory planning of improvements can be an important tool for work and cooperation of PTA and the Students’ Committees. Application of the new approach can lead not only to improvement the delivery of school services, but also to gaining the significant experience of democratization in the schools of Tajikistan.

This initiative was implemented under the Project «Strengthening conflict management capacities for dialogue in Tajikistan» co-financed by UNDP and Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery.

2. Equal development opportunities for rural women

Withthe support of UNDP the rural girls learned to sew, and in this way to earn the living.

- Hard economic situation and the rural traditional customs are the reason that among the villagers there are few people who would allow their daughters to study in the city – said at the meeting Mr. Abduvohid Mamadaliev, Chairman of Mahalla Committee Oftobruy, Jamoat Navgilem in Isfara district. – That’s why it is important for our girls to get professional skills without leaving the village.

Traditionally, the ability to sew clothes and household items are the basic skills for a good- mannered girl, especially in rural areas. Due to the high labour migration of the male population to the Russian Federation, to keep house became the main women’s burden. In order to support the families and contribute to the family budget, today rural women and girls try to be involved into income generating activities. Therefore, knowledge and skills are considered for them as a source of income and a way of employment without compromising family and change the usual way of life .

As the Chairman told, Mahalla Committee Oftobruy during 2011-2012 received support from UNDP Rural Growth Programme through the AKF MSDRP Programme. The Charter of Committee was jointly developed, and in 2012officially registered as a public organization in Navgilem Jamoat, Isfara district. Plan of social and economic development of Oftobruy Mahalla was also developed, where the key priority was creation of conditions for professional education and employmentof girls and women without leaving the village.

- To solve the issue of professional skills and increase employment of women and girls in the Oftobruy village, we have made the decision to establish the Training and Production center for women and girls and submitted the project for approval to the working committee established under the local authorities of Isfara city for further funding from the Trust Fund of Rural Growth Programme – tells Mr. Abduvohid Mamadaliev -. When independent commission of the Trust Fund decided to support our idea and provide funding for the project implementation, we were very happy. Almost the whole village participated in renovation of the premises, allocated for Training and Production center by the Jamoat management. Equipment required for training classroom and production workshop was purchased under the project for the amount over 47,600 TJS.

- We have extensive plans, related to opening of our center - said Ms. Safrohon Ulmasova, Head of the Training - Production Center during the opening ceremony in April 2013. - In the future, we hope that the extension of its activities will help to increase access of girls to professional skills and create an alternative to labor migration to the Russian Federation.

Upon 7 months of opening the Centre in the end of November 2013 Safrohon shared the achieved progress:

During 7 months of center operation, 40 women were trained sewing, 10 of them now have full time job . In summer, the center received and fulfilled the order for sewing school uniform for students of local school. We study the local consumer sewing production market , and plan to extend the production part of the center and ensure the full-time work for the best students.

The project «Support of Women Initiatives» was supported and realized in 2012-2013 under the Trust Fund, established by the Rural Growth Programme, implemented by UNDP, funded by DFID.

3. Thinking about Tomorrow

The problem of waste management has remained very critical for the long time for the residents of Spitamen district,Sughd oblast. With support provided by Trust Fund of the UNDP Rural Growth Programme, this problem has been solved.

Over the past three years the local authorities of Spitamen district have been facilitating the development of the district, at the same time paying attention to the environment. With growing number of population, opening of public catering points, numerous outlets and expansion of street trade, the volume of waste have greatly increased. The problem of solid waste management remained urgent for a long time throughout the whole district. In particular, Jamoat named after Uljabaev had neither capacity nor resources for the waste disposal. Spitamen district was in some way a pioneer in its approach to solving the problem.

- Our priority is to promote social and economic development of the district preserving the favorable environmental conditions, - tells the Head of the local authority of Spitamen district, Mr. Jamshed Rahmoni. – Currently, the technical park of our enterprise has the special operational waste collection equipment, purchased with the help of one of the USAID projects, which cleans the central streets of the district. And two tractors with trailers, procured by Trust Fund of UNDP Rural Growth Programme that collect and remove sacks with waste and garbage from various mahallas according to the schedule.

Having such a powerful technology park, communal services utility "Sarishta" provides services for 30,000 population in Jamoat named after Uljabaev in Spitamen district. Communal services utility regularly collects payment for services from the population in the amount of 1 TJS 30 dirams per person per month for the household waste disposal. The utility recovers all costs and in the nearest future it plans to expand the coverage. .

It should be noted that arranging regular waste management was just the beginning of problem solution. The next more acute issue was regulation of land allocated for the dump, as due to overload of the area and need to to conserve the waste on the dump territory. It was impossible to leave this problem unresolved, as it would mean a temporary solution of the household waste management problem, which affects the wellbeing of the district .

Finding the solutions hit us upon the idea of ​​sorting the household waste and further recycling - says Jamshed Rahmoni - Local administration of Spitamen district reviewed the existing technologies in the short time and selected the most appropriate option in terms of cost-effectiveness and opportunity to import technology. As a logical continuation of the idea to complete the chain of solid waste management, a project to install a line for household waste sorting has been proposed for funding under the second phase of the Trust Fund, and it gained full support.

For effective management of installed waste sorting system and the subsequent sale of plastic, glass and paper to the recycling plants, the municipal service utility "Sarfakor" was established in the district which involveseight full-time staff. This utility is expected to reach cost recovery and become profitable in the short time.

Currently the sorting line has been installed and in the nearest future it will be launched.

- I understand that the idea itself is innovative, and we will be the first in the region to face many organizational problems, but we are ready for challenges. I think that through this project we have achieved good results, namely, environment protection, employment of population, effective joint resolution of social problems - said Mr. Jamshed Rahmoni, Head of administration, Spitamen district .

Projects «Organization of the communal utilities for household waste management in Jamoat named after Uldjabaev in Spitamen district» and «Installation of the waste sorting line» were supported by UNDP and local authorities of Sughd oblast under Trust Fund, established by the UNDP Rural Growth Programme, funded by DFID. These projects were implemented in 2012-2013.

4. Building the bridges – connecting communities

Residents of Valigon village , Jamoat Langar, Kukhistoni Matchoh district are happy now, as they can safely and at relatively low cost take their products to the regional center, and to Khujand and Dushanbe cities, as a new bridge over Zarafshan river has been recently constructed and commissioned under one of UNDP programs. It connects Valigon and other neighboring villages to the main road.

The main problem for the residents of mountain villages Valigon, Istoshon , Dehmanora and Pakshiv was absence of bridge that would connect the left bank of the river Zarafshan with the right one, - says Mr. Siddikhon Ashurov, entrepreneur, resident of the village Valigon, , - People had to use the bridgelocated far from the above mentioned villages. Therefore, in order to get to the opposite river bank they had to cover the distance from 20 to 30 km, which hindered the connection between villages and district centre, especially in winter season when the roads are often blocked by avalanches. Only few people in the village has a car and you can imagine how much time and effort the farmers and entrepreneurs put in order to get to the opposite river bank which cause additional costs, time and money.

According to him, especially it is problematic for women and children , as they often had to overcome this distance on foot.

Lack of alternatives did not allow the population of these villages to benefit from economic opportunities, create conditions for local development. It is well-known that Kukhistoni Matcha is famous for its potatoes and fruits, which are in high demand in the markets of the country. Lack of road infrastructure, remote location from large markets significantly reduce opportunities for sustainable social and economic development. Considering this District development plan and Jamoat development plan pay special attention to infrastructure development.

Therefore, to improve communication between the villages in Jamoat Langar one of the priorities mentioned in Jamoat development plan was construction of the bridge which would connect two river banks on the territory of Valigon village. A bit later, the technical project for the construction of the bridge was designed. During four months of 2012, by the joint efforts the construction of the road bridge was completed. In May 2013 the newly constructed bridge was put officially into operation, which was an important event for population of Kukhistoni Matchoh district.

As a result of putting new bridge into operations, each year above 3,000 tons of agricultural products will be transported using the short way, saving over 800,000 TJS of transportation costs for Dehkan farms. Thus, the living conditions of more than 2,000 residents of mountainous villages were improved.

It should be noted that the road bridge length of 36 meters and width of 4.5 meters was built by joint efforts. The total construction cost of the bridge, including bank reinforcement works totaled to 566 000 TJS, out of which the contribution of the Trust Fund was 185 000 TJS. For these purposes local authorities of Sughd oblast allocated 60 000 TJS and community contribution was 321 000 TJS, equal to 57% of the total project cost. The construction of the bridge was completed under Trust Fund projects implementation, UNDP Rural Growth Program, funded by DFID.

"We are happy, that by joint efforts we have constructed a long–awaited bridge and appreciate everyone’s help ," - said the grateful villagers of Valigon.

In order to achieve such success, as could be seen on the example of one project in the mountainous district, it is necessary to work more closely with the communities, identify their capacity, leaders, train and consolidate local communities to address social and economic problems facing the society. Building partnerships with different organizations plays an important role. Properly organized work with all stakeholders gives a positive result in terms of cooperation. People see that the by joint efforts, the life in our society is improving and this gives confidence that tomorrow will be better.

5. Upgrading skills and improving well-being

Ensuring employment to the rural population is one of the state priorities. After all, it eventually leads to upgrading the well-being of households, and this in turn is an important indicator of national development. The Rakhmatshoevs’ family from Vose district, Khatlon oblast consists of 17 people - 10 brothers, 5 sisters and their parents. The head of the family has been engaged in beekeeping and honey production for many years and currently six sons out of ten continue his work.

His eldest son Rustam has secondary education, after graduating from the school he did not work anywhere. He is married and has a child. UNDP under one of its initiatives proposed an opportunity to undertake professional training courses on beekeeping for the unemployed people in Jamoat Mirzoali Vaysov. It was timely for him and other members of their extended family. Rustam also invited his brothers - Suhrob, Zubaidullo, Izzatullo and his wife to this training course. As a result they have successfully completed these trainings.

- I love beekeeping. So last summer, my wife and I expressed a wish to pass these professional training courses on beekeeping and honey production. This opportunity helped us to gain the knowledge and skills required for successful keeping of bee colonies. We learnt the efficient methods how to treat bees from various diseases and methods for increasing the production of honey. New knowledge and skills helped us to start up our family business on beekeeping and efficiently practice honey production" - said Rustam during our conversation.

Currently Rustam and his wife are engaged in beekeeping and honey production in their own farm. While Rustam and his wife participated in professional training courses, they also learned about opportunity how to get microcredit in their jamoat with acceptable interest rate. Micro-credits were issued by the local micro-credit organization "Rushdi Vose." Micro-credits were provided for graduates of the courses, who participated in professional training, and also for needy vulnerable groups of population in this area. Thus, Rustam received the first microcredit for the amount of 3, 200 TJS for honey bee colonies keeping and breeding. Last year Rustam had 15 beehives and thanks to the acquired skills and micro-credit the number of bee colonies has increased to 80, and as a result - only this year he produced more than 600 kilograms of honey, which is twice more than in the last year.

- I’ve successfully completed the courses on beekeeping and now together with my husband I am breeding bees - says Mavlyuda, Rustam’s wife, - This year we got twice more honey compared to the last year. The gained knowledge and micro-credits helped us to increase honey production. Honey production and beekeeping is the only source of income for our family, and we hope that in the nearest future we will be able to sustain our family business.

Another Rustam’s achievement in beekeeping is the request from other beekepers of Vose district to deliver high-quality varieties of "Carpatians" bee colonies from Isfara district, Sughd oblast to Vose district, Khatlon oblast. Thus, Rustam increases the number of quality bee colonies, and then sells them to beekeepers in Vose district.

- The skills acquired at beekeepers training courses allowed us to apply efficiently theory into practice. And the opportunity to develop our business with the support of local microcredit organizations improved the welfare not only of our big family, but also other beekeepers in our district - said Rustam.

Rustam Rahmatshoev with the help of micro-credit and skills in beekeeping, acquired in the professional training course stated to sustain his family business of beekeeping and honey production.

6. The main thing is to make a decision and start

I grew up in an environment where the horticulture, especially growing lemons, is treated in a special way. The first skills to grow lemons I got from my father after that attended the school of true agronomist and gardener Mr. Nicholay Budanov who headed the horticulture in Qumsangir for the long time. Previously I have been working in the banking system, and in Soviet times was engaged in growing lemons after my working hours, it was my hobby andI grew lemons only for my family and friends.

For a long time I planned to build a greenhouse for growing citrus trees , but lack of funding and a high interest rate for credit in financial institutions hampered implementation of my plans.

At the moment we are considering growing lemons as a source of income. Therefore, in the recent years I have tried to expand the area for greenhouse in my garden. UNDP project "Tajik- Afghan poverty reduction initiative" funded by the Government of Japan in the border areas come in useful , as it was relevant to my goals. Implementation of this projectenabled my long dream to become true. My first business plan was approved and I received soft credit for 5 years from micro-credit organization "Imon International" - UNDP partner for this initiative.

Using this credit, I’ve managed to build new greenhouse on the area of 0.11 hectares in my garden and planted 100 seedlings of lemon trees. For efficient use of greenhouse area, I planted a variety of vegetables between lemon seedlings for the family consumption. At the same time I try to observe all the agro-technical rules, the trees grow very well. Lemon trees in the second year give fruits, and in the third year we expect to collect from 60 to 80 kg fruits from each tree. Kumsangir lemons are famous for their taste all over the country, and already have their customers in such countries as well as in the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan. I am very glad that the UN mission, consisting of representatives from more than 10 countries, during its business trip to Qumsangir district visited my new lemon tree greenhouse . Now our lemons are known not only in the Central Asian countries and in Former Soviet Union republics, but also in America, Africa and Europe.

Also, I would like to mention that construction of bridge between Tajikistan and Afghanistan and reconstruction of roads, facilitated the boarder and cross-border trade. As for me, every year I sell the lemons, onions and melons to Afghan entrepreneurs, thereby using the earnings to meet the needs of my family and at the same time contributing to regional food security.

I am full of ideas, and trying to implement each of them by putting them into my business plan. The most cherished one is to produce in Qumsangir various products from golden and flavored lemon fruits, which meet international standards. I am confident that this way we will make a significant contribution to the economic development of the country.

In the end I want to thank UNDP as a reliable partner, as with its support, I have achieved such success in my business.

Mahmadyusuf Nazriyev – the farmer, businessman, member of the Association of Dekhkan Farms "Panj" in Qumsangir district, Khatlon oblast.