Today, as part of its Team Europe Global Response, the European Commission announced €112.2 million to strengthen health, education and social services in Tajikistan and support the country in its coronavirus response.
Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen said: “The coronavirus pandemic has and still continues to impact us and our partners, our citizens and economies. The European Union stands by the Tajik people with a contribution of €112 million to help Tajikistan respond to the threat of coronavirus and address longer-term health and socio-economic needs. Tajikistan will be able to increase and improve its healthcare coverage, and young Tajik people will have greater access to higher quality education, even in times of crisis, and better chances of subsequent employment.”
The package consists of three interlinked programmes: the Health Development Programme (€52.2 million), the Quality Education Support Programme II (€50 million), and Support to Civil Registry System Reform (€10 million). The first two programmes contain elements (worth €46.2 million in total) that will directly support the emergency response to the pandemic, as well as boost efforts to mitigate its negative socio-economic impacts.
The Health Development Programme aims to improve the accessibility and quality of integrated healthcare in Tajikistan. It will strengthen health sector governance and financing mechanisms with an emphasis on primary health care. The programme will also strengthen effective infection prevention and control systems and finance critical medical supplies such as ventilators and personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.
The objective of the Quality Education Support Programme II is to improve the learning outcomes and employability of young Tajiks. The programme will strengthen the governance in the education sector and promote public finance management in the social sectors. It will increase access to higher quality education for all children and youth, and help improve their employment perspectives by reforming general secondary education as well as vocational education and training. Water, sanitation and hygiene activities in schools, together with increased preparedness for distance learning, will ensure better access to education, even in times of crisis.
The Support to Civil Registry System Reform programme aims to make basic public services more accessible to all Tajiks. The programme will help shape a public administration that can offer integrated and online public services, and ensure transparency and accountability. By facilitating better service delivery, the programme will boost other EU assistance to Tajikistan.
The EU’s global response to the coronavirus pandemic follows a ‘Team Europe’ approach; combining resources from the EU and its Member States and European financial institutions, in particular the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The Commission is planning further assistance that will focus on sanitation and hygiene infrastructure, and on support to small- and medium-sized enterprises.
EU-Tajikistan relations date back to 1991 when the European Commission launched the Technical Aid to the Commonwealth of Independent States. Bilateral development assistance has increased from around €20 million per year in the early 2000s to the current €33 million annually. The EU’s priorities for cooperation with Tajikistan in the current programming cycle (2014-2020) are education, health and rural development. Boosting investment also remains a priority. Tajikistan is the largest recipient of EU bilateral aid in Central Asia.
The EU also supports Tajikistan through international organisations and global health initiatives to strengthen healthcare systems.