DUSHANBE (TCA) — Tajikistan President Emomali Rakhmon on June 25 inaugurated a drinking water supply project that is expected to benefit 58 households, housing 354 people in disaster affected area of Ghudara village of Bartang valley, Rushan district, in Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO). The project that aims at improving access to safe drinking water and sanitation was implemented by Aga Khan Foundation and supported by the government of Finland, the Aga Khan Development Network said.
Bartang valley was struck by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on December 7, 2015 that destroyed 223 buildings, including houses, schools and medical points, as well as partially destroyed more than 300 buildings, and caused many people to be temporarily evacuated.
Villages of Bartang valley are extremely remote and the distance from them to Rushan District Centre is approximately 180 km, and 250 km to Khorog, the regional capital of GBAO. The impoverished population of the remote village used to walk long distance to collect water.
“Apart from construction of hydroelectric power station and provision of the impoverished and isolated population of Bartang valley with water supply system, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in the aftermath of the earthquake also supported construction of houses for the affected community, as well as contributed to capacity in disaster risk reduction and resilience building,” said Yodgor Faizov, Chief Executive Officer, Aga Khan Foundation.
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The Bartang Valley
Underestimated Mountain Range hosting Superlatives: The Pamirs
The Bartang Valley is located in the middle of the Pamirs, a mountain range in the heart of Central Asis that stretches over swaths of Tajikistan, Afghanistan and easternmost China. Whereas the neighbouring Hindu Kush has rather made unfavourable headlines during the last years, and whereas the Himalayas are about to get smothered by mass tourism, just few people know this marvel in the immediate neighbourhood. This is a pity, as the Pamirs come up with manifold geographical superlatives: the highest summit of the former Soviet Union, the longest extra-polar glacier and the barrier lake with the most massive natural dam in the world. For many endangered animals such as the gigantic Marco-Polo-Sheep (renowned for its horns of up to 1,40 m width) as well as the snow leopard, the Pamirs form one of the last refuges. Geologists use to know the Pamirs as one of the few sources for Lapislazuli, which for millennia has been the only one known to the world, and for thetop-class spinels some of which adorn the English crown jewels. To friends of history the Pamirs are known as the setting of the so-called Great Game in the 19th century, the colonial competition between the British and the Russian Tsarist Empire for the last white blanks on the map of Asia. Finally, Cultural Anthropologists and Linguists appreciate the Pamirs because of their great cultural and linguistic diversity: In nearly every valley, a distinct language or dialect is spoken, so that many inhabitants of neighbouring valleys cannot understand each other in their native tongue. And many of the ages-old traditions are practised only in single villages.
Sarez-Lake in the Bartang Valley, caused in 1911 by an earthquake and a subsequent landslide.
“The one who has not been to Bartang has not been to the Pamirs at all”
… wrote the Russian travelling scholar Pavel Luknizki, who in the 1930ies fell in love with Bartang. But not just among foreigners, even among the Pamiri themselves the Bartang-Valley enjoys the reputation as being kind of the heart of the Pamirs: The place where the landscape is most dramatic, the road most dangerous, the tradition most authentic and the hospitality most cordial.
Like the majority of the inhabitants of the Western Pamirs, the Bartangi also speak dialects of the family of the Indo-European, non-written Pamir languages. Religiously, they belong to the denomination of the Nizari-Ismailis, a sub-confession of Shia Islam. Nizari-Ismailis consider Aga Khan IV as the closest male descendent alive of the prophet Muhammad and as ephiphany of the divine light. His orders are absolutely binding. The Aga Khan propagates a version of Islam open to progress and to intellectual discourse with the west. His faith is practised even in the remote Bartang valley, enriched with some locally specific practices.
Pamir Bartang Valley