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In Tajikistan, FSD destroys stockpiles of obsolete weapons and ammunition, remediates areas contaminated with toxic pollutants and promotes resilience against climate change.

Destruction preparation of munitions along the Tajik-Afgan border
An FSD team is preparing the destruction of abandoned and unexploded ordnance collected along the Tajik-Afghan border. (Tajikistan, 2022)


In 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tajikistan, alongside several former Soviet States, declared its independence. At the time, numerous stockpiles of weapons and ammunition were stored throughout the country. Today, a large portion of the weapons remains in the country in poor storage conditions. They constitute a threat to national and regional security, posing the risk of accidental explosions or of falling into the wrong hands. 

Tajikistan is also contaminated by other forms of soil and water pollution dating back to the Soviet era. In 1950–60, pesticides, known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), were largely distributed in the country, almost for free, to increase agricultural production. The collapse of the Soviet Union saw numerous stockpiles of these pesticides abandoned in the country.

Since then, such obsolete POPs, notably Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, commonly known as DDT, have started to infiltrate the environment and the food chain. Long-term exposure to such organic persistent pollutants has been linked to a series of negative impacts on health, from effects on the nervous, immune, reproductive and endocrine systems to various types of birth defects and cancers. 

While the Tajik government is aware of the risks of such substances on health, the environment and the economy, it lacks the complete legal, financial and institutional resources to solve the problem. 



When it rains or snows, the soil turns yellow and the smell is unbearable.


An inhabitant of Oykamar, a village contaminated by toxic pesticides.

Salmanjoon - Inhabitant of Oykamar, village contaminated by toxic pesticides

Environmental remediation

The project’s aim is to clear soils contaminated by toxic pesticides. In an initial project, FSD relocated families living above a pesticide dump before removing and transporting the top layers of contaminated soil to a secure central storage site in Vakhsh, far from any homes and waterways. Clean soil is later transported to contaminated villages. 

In addition, FSD is developing and testing new technologies to permanently eliminate the problem of POPs. Options to treat contaminated soils can be using a supercritical water oxidation reactor or high temperature furnaces in cement factories to dispose of pesticides without releasing dioxins or other toxic emissions.

FSD excavator in Tajikistan

Disposal of weapons and ammunition

For almost 20 years, FSD has managed a project to eliminate obsolete stockpiles of small arms and ammunition dating from the Soviet era. Depending on their size, the obsolete weapons and ammunition are either incinerated or destroyed by way of controlled explosions. 

To date, FSD has destroyed more than 1.7 million weapons and items of ammunition in Tajikistan, as well as around 50 man-portable air defence systems (MANPADs). 

A deminer preparing to destroy an explosive ordnance stockpile in Tajikistan.

Resilience to climate change

High temperatures and strong winds eroding soils combined with poor investment in farming infrastructure make Tajikistan highly vulnerable to food insecurity. The country needs to increase agricultural resilience and food production methods, or it will suffer economic losses, humanitarian challenges, and environmental degradation from more frequent, intense, and unpredictable climate-related events.

FSD’s climate change resilience project includes planting trees for phytoremediation purposes, ensuring access to safe water for local communities, and promoting sustainable crop and vegetable production.

View of the area after planting and second mini truck unloading trees in Tajikistan

FSD in Tajikistan

The FSD presence in Tajikistan dates back to 2003, when the Foundation carried out a mine action programme. In 2018, a lack of funding meant that demining operations in Tajikistan were suspended but will restart in the summer of 2023.  

In parallel, in 2009, FSD launched a stockpile disposal programme to contribute to national and regional security. Since 2022, this project has included a wider distribution of locations, notably in the Tajikistan-Uzbekistan border region in the west of the country, as better relationships were developed between the two countries. 

In 2016, FSD initiated a third project: the remediation of areas contaminated by toxic pesticides left behind from the Soviet era. To address the contamination, FSD excavated soil from contaminated areas and transported it to a safe storage location in Vakhsh, which is far from residential areas and water sources. In parallel, FSD teams carried out risk education campaigns in villages across Tajikistan that are considered at the highest risk from POP contamination. 

The subsequent plan, in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme, involves utilising advanced thermal technologies to treat the contaminated soil to eliminate all POPs effectively. This action aligns with Tajikistan’s pledge to the Stockholm Convention. 

In addition, FSD planted thousands of trees to strengthen soil stability and for phytoremediation purposes around Vakhsh, rehabilitated an irrigation pump supplying three towns, built a community greenhouse and is mentoring over 40 local residents on sustainable crop and vegetable production. 

FSD’s obsolete weapons disposal project in Tajikistan is supported by the US State Department. Environmental support activities in the country are funded by the GEF, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and private foundations.  


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Controlled explosion from an obsolete ammunition stock in Tajikistan.jpg

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➡️ Incineration, for small arms ammunition and pyrotechnics
➡️ Controlled explosion, for larger weapons […]

In 2022, FSD built one community greenhouse and mentored over 40 local residents on sustainable crop production in an effort to reduce food insecurity.  


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