Vazirbek Avazbekov rebuilt his house four times before government officials in Tajikistan decided to move his village from its avalanche- and flood-prone valley to Navruz, a dusty patch of desert more than 300 kilometers away.
“People were dying in these disasters – homes were being swept away,” said the slender schoolteacher, reminiscing about life in the isolated Pamir Mountains hamlet of Baghush. “So when the government offered to move us, promising houses, streets and a school, we agreed.”
Six months later, Avazbekov found himself rebuilding his house for a fifth time. “When we arrived in Navruz, there was nothing,” he said. “Not even a tree.”
In the spring of 2000, authorities moved more than 200 families from five districts in Tajikistan’s mountainous Gorno-Badakhshan region to southern Tajikistan; 56 of them ended up in Navruz. Each family was given a canvas tent and 300 somoni (about $63 at today’s exchange rate). “It wasn’t even enough to buy bricks,” said Avazbekov.
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