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Central Asia Floods Reawaken Glacier Anxieties

Near the towns of Barsem and Kolkhozod, villagers in Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region gather at the edge of the swollen Gund River to watch floodwaters cut off roads and wash away homes on July 17. Abnormally high temperatures in Tajikistan are causing rapid snow and glacier melts, triggering mudflows, landslides and flash floods. (Photo: UN REACT)

Floods across Central Asia over this past week are highlighting the perils of failing to adopt robust water-management measures and put adequate early-warning systems in place. 

Tajikistan has been the worst hit, with abnormally high temperatures causing rapid snow and glacier melts. The country is 93 percent covered by high mountains, making it particularly vulnerable to landslides and flash floods. Dozens of homes have been destroyed and at least a dozen people killed.

The situation has been particularly acute in the eastern Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, where challenging geography complicates any rescue operation. On July 16, a mudslide there crashed into the Gund River, which runs by the village of Barsem, resulting in the build-up of an artificial lake that flooded the area and stranded 1,100 residents.

The government is unable to single-handedly tackle emergency situations and relies heavily in the Pamirs on the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), with which it has often strained relations.

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Central Asia Floods Reawaken Glacier Anxieties

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