In Tajikistan, FSD disposes of obsolete ammunition stockpiles and clears the land of obsolete pesticides buried in the grounds.
Tajikistan: Transport of obsolete ammunition for destruction
In 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tajikistan declared its independence and quickly fell into a civil war that lasted until 1997. The country remains to this day the poorest of the former Soviet republics and keeps a heavy legacy of this recent history.
Considerable quantities of obsolete weapons and ammunition remain in circulation, posing a threat to the population as well as to regional security.The territory is also dotted with anti-personnel mines and explosive remnants of war. Moreover, many stocks of obsolete pesticides, now recognized as toxic, are scattered across the country, migrate in the environment and contaminate the food chain.
“At the time, we did not know the pesticides stored in our village were toxic…”
In the 1950s and 1960s, pesticides were distributed en masse, almost free of charge, to increase agricultural production. The collapse of the USSR left massive stocks unmanaged and unprotected. Since then, these obsolete pesticides, predominantly DDT, have started to penetrate the environment. FSD identifies affected areas and works on their remediation.
Weapons and ammunition disposal
For almost 20 years, FSD has managed a project to eliminate obsolete stockpiles of ordnance and small arms and ammunition. These stocks are dangerous as they can cause accidental explosions or be used for the production of homemade explosive devices. More than 820 tonnes of weapons and ammunition have been destroyed by FSD in Tajikistan, as well as about 50 portable anti-aircraft rockets.
FSD in Tajikistan
FSD’s presence in Tajikistan dates back to 2003, with the implementation of a mine action program supported by the US State Department. In 15 years, the organization’s deminers have released more than 11 million square meters of land back to communities. The Tajik government estimates the surface area remaining to be cleared at 14 million square meters. However, donor funding for Tajikistan is scarce and there are insufficient demining teams in-country to be able to meet current Ottawa Treaty Obligations. FSD’s second project in Tajikistan, which started in 2016, involves cleaning up land contaminated with obsolete pesticides dating from the Soviet era. In partnership with the United Nations Environment Program, FSD has identified priority sites and initiated measures to remediate contaminated soils and raise awareness among affected populations. Long-term exposure to these “persistent organic pollutants” has been correlated with a series of negative health effects, ranging from problems with the nervous, immune, reproductive and endocrine systems, to various types of birth defects and of cancers. Note that FSD’s demining operations in neighbouring Afghanistan are carried out cross border from an operational HQ located in Tajikistan, in the border town of Kalaikhum.
centimetre by centimetre
In 2020, our deminers cleared 3.2 km² , an area equivalent to the City of London. This work requires constant concentration despite the sometimes extreme working conditions.
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Our humanitarian programs focus on four main areas.
FSD locates and clears mines and unexploded ordnance, provides explosive ordnance risk education and assists survivors of accidental explosions.
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