Perception, Interpretation and Managing of Climate Change and Related Natural Hazards in Tajikistan

Verantwortliche  Béatrice Zimmermann
Trägerschaft Institut für Islamwissenschaft und Neuere Orientalische Phililogie
Betreuung Prof. Dr. Anke von Kügelgen
Finanzierung privat; Unterstützung durch ACTED Tajikistan, FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance (Tajikistan), Swiss Cooperation Office, Dushanbe.

Tajikistan is highly disaster-prone; climate-induced disasters like floods, droughts, mud flows, cold waves or snow avalanches constitute a major threat to people’s live, livelihood and (sustainable) development in almost every corner of the country. Whereas scientific technical knowledge about climate change and resulting natural hazards and environmental degradation exists to a certain extent, the knowledge about the understanding of people's perception and interpretation of nature and their views and approaches to today's environmental changes and risks is scarce. This gap was addressed with this thesis by fieldwork using ethnographic methods in selected villages in predominately Sunni Southern Khatlon and Ismaili Kuhistoni Badakhshon. A total of 230 interviews and focus group discussions were conducted between 2010 and 2013 in these two geographically very different areas. The interpretation of the results explains differences of the scientific technical and local citizens' views and highlights to what extent the perception and resulting actions are influenced by factors like educational background, religious affiliation and depth of religiosity or gender. A review of today’s literature of the Muslim academic community about the topic was carried out in addition to the fieldwork.

The view on and the perception of risks from natural hazards and the interpretation of subsequent disasters is strongly influenced by the Muslim culture on the one side and on the other side by the difficult living conditions of individuals, households, communities and the society as a whole. These risks from natural hazards are definitely not at the forefront of people’s mind. Economic constraints, health risks or lack in educational opportunities are more important.