asiaNet Eurasia Insight
Virtually all of the narcotics that pass through Tajikistan are produced in neighboring Afghanistan. Most indicators show that there are myriad socio-economic factors pushing Tajiks to become involved in the drug trade. For example, unemployment rates in some areas of the country approach 80 percent. In addition, a severe drought has raised concerns about famine. Already the malnutrition rate, according to the study, is about 6 percent.
The report titled Uncovering the Dangers of Drug Use in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan -- was commissioned by the International Harm Reduction Project of the Open Society Institute in New York. It was based on extensive field research conducted in the region, including discussions with drug users and aid workers.
Drug use within Tajikistan has risen concurrently with the rapid expansion of trafficking operations. Official data in January 2000 indicated that there were 2,703 registered drug users in the country. However, experts suggest the actual number of users could be 15 to 20 times higher than the reported figure. Of registered users, 1,695 consumed heroin, 768 opium, 202 hashish/cannabis and 128 turned to other narcotics.
In major cities, including the capital Dushanbe, small quantities of heroin were comparatively cheaper to obtain than vodka, the report says. "The high quality of heroin in Tajikistan 12 times more pure than in other countries means that it does not have to be cooked. It is popular to mix it with water and inject. It is also mixed with tobacco and smoked or snorted straight from the packet."
The report said 70 percent of heroin users preferred to smoke or snort the drug, while 30 percent opted to inject. Tajik health officials say they do not have accurate figures for the number of HIV-positive persons in the country.
Click here to read about trends in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan
Those wishing to find out more about
the report can contact Anna Moshkova at the Open Society Institute.
She can be reached by email at: [email protected].