Livelihoods of the ‘New Livestock Breeders’ in the Eastern Pamirs of Tajikistan

  • Tobias KraudzunEmail author
Part of the Advances in Asian Human-Environmental Research book series (AAHER)


This chapter focuses on the adaption of livelihood strategies based on livestock breeding in the Eastern Pamirs to the new politico-economic conditions in post-Soviet Tajikistan. Furthermore, its effects on the changing socio-economic structures are analysed. Peculiarities like the introduction of a household responsibility system and the disorder during the years of the Tajik civil war eased private livestock appropriation and delayed all further steps to reorganise the societal set-up. By recording and interpreting household biographies, it could be revealed how individuals perceived opportunities and chances during the transitional period and how their economic decisions altered their livelihoods. Given the growing gap of socio-economic disparities within the community, the significance of the livestock-based economy could be shown in terms of the division of labour, pasture user rights, herd management, entrepreneurial and trade opportunities.


Post-socialist transformation Livelihood trajectories Livestock economy Eastern Pamirs Tajikistan 



The author is grateful to the Volkswagen Foundation that made the empirical research in the Pamirs between 2007 and 2009 possible by funding the research project ‘Transformation Processes in the Eastern Pamirs of Tajikistan. Changing Land Use Practices, Possible Ecological Degradation and Sustainable Development’. Many interview partners in Tajikistan have supported my enquiries. All support by herders, bureaucrats and development practitioners living and working in the Pamirs is gratefully acknowledged.

Interview Partners

  • AA: Adylbek Atabaev, 28.05.08

  • BT: Bekzhol Taipov, Murghab 31.03.09, 18.05.09

  • MD: Murzabay Dzhooshbaev, Murghab 22.10.07, 09.04.09, 17.05.09, 03.09.09

  • JI: Jurmat Ismailov, Murghab 19.04.09

  • KK: Kökönbek Kamchibekov, Murghab 06.05.08

  • TK: Teshebay Kolchokabev, Murghab 05.04.09, 16.05.09

  • TU: Tashbay Usenov, Kamar-Ötök 11.04.09

  • VV: Vakhid Vakhidov, Dushanbe 04.07.08, 05.07.08


1. This term was coined by Nazif Shahrani (2002 [1979]); cf. the  Chap. 4 in this volume by Ted Callahan.

2. For example, more than 7,500 tons of goods were brought into the Pamirs in the planning year 1936–1937 to supply about 29,000 people who were living in the region in 1935, according to regional archival documents (GosArkhiv-GBAO 1936:1-3-27).

3. Full names of quoted interview partners are listed below.

4. In the state farms of Murghab district, animal loss increased in 1993 by 4,051 head of sheep and goats and 670 yaks in comparison to the precedent year, constituting 10% respectively, 7% of all stocks (USKH GBAO 1994).

5. In this case, each member household of the dissolved kolkhoz was regarded as a dekhan farm (literally peasant farm). De jure, a formally registered business was addressed by this denomination; de facto, it just referred to a household as an economic unit. For an overview of other types of dekhan farms, see Robinson et al. (2010).

6. Statistical tables based on the official population register show smaller household sizes, but de facto households sharing a budget and a table include often relatives and young families. The figure referred to here is derived from a survey conducted in Murghab in 2008 (Kreczi 2011).

7. By default, all inhabitants of a village were members of the kolkhoz. However, they amounted only to 47% of the district population (Statotdel Murgab 2000; Selkhozotdel Murgab 2007a). The population of the district centre Murghab and of the sub-district Alichur, with a persisting state farm, were not considered.

8. Trucks, as the most desired means of transport for seasonal herd relocations, were sold for the equivalent of 80–200 USD. This comparatively small amount equals the wages earned in 30–70 months (based on wages in 1999).

9. From 1998 to 2003, the officially fixed minimal wage has increased almost sixfold (Goskomstat RT 2004).

10. In official statistics, every occurrence of employment is considered, including part-time positions with salaries insignificant for earning a livelihood.

11. An average Murghab town household comprises 5.8 members and requires a minimum of about 400 TJS monthly for purchasing only the imported consumer goods. This calculation is based on consumption data (AgentStat 2010) refined with information from my own enquiry of household consumption in Murghab. The vast majority of foods and dry goods have to be imported from outside. Only locally produced goods and raw materials extracted from nature can be substituted through workforce and support networks. The respective costs are omitted from this minimal value, including them would increase the margin of basic needs to 700 TJS or even to 946 TJS (Kreczi 2011).

12. Numbers in this paragraph are calculated from a livelihood survey conducted in Murghab in 2008 by Fanny Kreczi (2011). I gratefully acknowledge her sharing of these data.

13. After an inspection, both numbers for private and collective livestock had to be corrected for all livestock by 9% – the private upwards, the collective downwards. A similar correction was necessary after an inspection took place in June 2007: 6% for yaks and even 11% for small livestock – again upwards for private and downwards for farmers association’s livestock (MD 17.05.09, cf. Fig. 5.2).

14. All biographical interviews were conducted with the household elder. Other household members often helped out with specifying dates and adding to memories. Nevertheless, the biographies reflect merely the assessments of the household head, disregarding the intra-household variations. All names of my interview partners have been anonymised.

15. In Murghab district of the late Soviet period, it was allowed to keep an amount of six small livestock and one yak with a calf. Livestock beyond that was ‘contracted’ by the kolkhoz for a (low) acquisition price set by the state.


  1. Agakhanianc OE (1965) Osnovnie problemy fizicheskoj geografii Pamira. Izd. Akademija Nauk Tadzhikskoj SSR, DushanbeGoogle Scholar
  2. AgentStat (2010) Osnovnye pokazateli obsledovanija bjudzhetov domashnykh khozjajstv respubliki Tadzhikistana. Agenstvo po statistike pri presidente Respubliki Tadzhikistan, DushanbeGoogle Scholar
  3. Antonenko BA (1985) Socialisticheskie agrarnye preobrazovanija v Gorno-Badakhshanskoj avtnomnoj oblasti. In: Masov RM (ed) Ocherki po istorii Sovetskogo Badakhshana. Izdat. Donish, Dushanbe, pp 220–253Google Scholar
  4. Bliss F (2006) Social and economic change in the Pamirs (Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan). Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Dor R (1975) Contribution à l’étude des Kirghiz du Pamir afghan, Cahiers turcica 1. Publications Orientalistes de France, ParisGoogle Scholar
  6. El Registan (1936) Dem Autonomen Sowjetgebiet Gorno-Badachschan gewidmet. UdSSR im Bau 1936 (12)Google Scholar
  7. GosArkhiv-GBAO (1936). fond 1, opis 3, delo 27 Khorog: Gosudarstvennyj arkhiv Gorno-Badakhshanskoj Avtonomnoj OblastiGoogle Scholar
  8. Goskomstat RT (2004) Regiony Tadzhikistana – statisticheskij sbornik. Gosudarstvennyj komitet statistiki respubliki Tadzhikistan, KhorogGoogle Scholar
  9. Gotfrid L, Gafiz M (1930) Krasnyj flag na Kryshe mira. Pamirskie ocherki. Tadzhgiz, Tashkent/StalinabadGoogle Scholar
  10. Herbers H (2001) Transformation in the Tajik Pamirs: Gorniy-Badakhshan – an example for successful restructuring? Central Asia Surv 20(3):367–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kleandrov IM (1974) Èkonomika Sovetskogo Gornogo Badskhshana. Sovremennoe sostojanie i problemy razvitija. Donish, DushanbeGoogle Scholar
  12. Kraudzun T (2009) Mobile Viehwirtschaft im tadschikischen Pamir. In: Toktoraliev B, Kreutzmann H (eds) Herausforderungen für die Mensch-Umwelt-Beziehungen in Hochgebirgsregionen Tadschikistans und Kirgistans. Osh, pp 141–152Google Scholar
  13. Kraudzun T (2011) From the Pamirian frontier to international borders: exchange relations of the borderland population. In: Bruns B, Miggelbrink J (eds) Subverting borders. Doing research on smuggling and small-scale trade. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden, pp 166–186Google Scholar
  14. Kreczi F-S (2011) Vulnerabilities in the Eastern Pamirs. Berlin Geographical Papers 39. Centre for Development Studies (ZELF), BerlinGoogle Scholar
  15. Kreutzmann H (2009a) Geopolitical perspectives on cross-border exchange relations. In: Kreutzmann H, Beg GA, Richter J (eds) Experiences with and prospects for regional exchange and cooperation in mountain areas. InWEnt, Bonn, pp 20–57Google Scholar
  16. Kreutzmann H (2009b) Transformations of high mountain pastoral strategies in the Pamirian Knot. Nomadic Peoples 13(2):102–123. doi: 10.3167/082279405781826092 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kreutzmann H (2011) Pastoralism in Central Asian mountain regions. In: Kreutzmann H, Abdulalishoev K, Zhaohui L, Richter J (eds) Regional workshop in Khorog and Kashgar. Pastoralism and rangeland management in mountain areas in the context of climate and global change. GIZ, Bonn, pp 38–63Google Scholar
  18. Lin JY (1996) Success in early reform: setting the stage. In: Garnaut R, Guo S, Ma G (eds) The third revolution in the Chinese countryside. Cambridge University Press, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  19. Maanaev ED, Ploskikh VM (1983) Na ‘kryshe mira’ (Istoricheskie ocherki o pamiro-alayskikh kirgizakh). Mektep, FrunzeGoogle Scholar
  20. MSDSP (2005) Analiz o postupivshchij gumanitarnoj pomoshchi po linii fonda Aga-Khana po Murgabskomu rajonu s period sentjabr 1993 po dekabr’ 2005 goda. Mountain Societies Development and Support Programme, MurgabGoogle Scholar
  21. Robinson S, Whitton M, Biber-Klemm S, Muzofirshoev N (2010) The Impact of land reform legislation on pasture tenure in Gorno-Badakhshan – from common resource to private property? Mt Res Dev 30(1):4–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Samimi C, Vanselow K, Kraudzun T, Aknazarov K, Kreutzmann H (2011) Der Ostpamir nach der Unabhängigkeit Tadschikistans – Landnutzungsverhältnisse und Ökologie. In: Anhuf D, Fickert T, Grüninger F (eds) Die Erde als Ökosystem im Wandel. Passauer Kontaktstudium Erdkunde 11. PassauGoogle Scholar
  23. Selkhozotdel Murgab (2007a) Analiz sravnenie chislenosti razdannogo skota s kolichestvom skota na 1.1.2007 g. Upravlenie selskogo khozjajstva Murgabskogo rajona, MurgabGoogle Scholar
  24. Selkhozotdel Murgab (2007b) Svedenie o perschjota skota na vsekh dzhamoatakh rajona. Upravlenie selskogo khozjajstva Murgabskogo rajona, MurgabGoogle Scholar
  25. Shahrani N (2002) The Kirghiz and Wakhi of Afghanistan: adaptation to closed frontiers and War. University of Washington Press, SeattleGoogle Scholar
  26. Shibaeva JA (1973) Zhivotnovodstvo u kirgizov Vostočnogo Pamira. Trudy Instituta Ethnografii (98):99–132Google Scholar
  27. Sovnarkom TadSSR, CK KPTad (1943) postanovlenie ot 02.08.1943 g.: O sozdanie jakovocheskovo khozjajstva v GBAO. Sovet narodnykh komissarov Tadzhikskoj SSR i Centralnyj komitet KP/b Tadzhikistana, DushanbeGoogle Scholar
  28. Stankevich BV (1904) Po Pamiru. Putevye zapiski B.V. Stankevicha. Russkij vestnik 1904 (8; 9; 10; 11):624–657; 235–269; 456–499; 623–628Google Scholar
  29. Statotdel Murgab (2000) Svodnoe o polovom i poluvozrostnom sostave naselenie v dzhamoatah Murgabskogo rajona na 1 janvarja 2000 goda. Otdel statistiki Murgabskogo rajona, MurgabGoogle Scholar
  30. Statotdel Murgab (2008a) Bjulletin po zhivotnovodstvo. Otdel statistiki Murgabskogo rajona, MurgabGoogle Scholar
  31. Statotdel Murgab (2008b) Svodnoe o polovom i poluvozrostnom sostave naselenie v dzhamoatah Murgabskogo rajona na 01 janvarja 2008 goda. Otdel statistiki Murgabskogo rajona, MurgabGoogle Scholar
  32. Statotdel Murgab (n.d.) Dinamicheskie rjady po Murgabskomu rajonu. Otdel statistiki Murgabskogo rajona, MurgabGoogle Scholar
  33. Taipov B (2002) Sary Kol tarykhyndyn kyskacha ocherkteri. MurgabGoogle Scholar
  34. USKH GBAO (1994) Prikaz No. 2 ot 12.01.1994 g.: O rezultate vnedrenija arendnogo otnoshenie i sostojanie razvitie zhivotnovodstva v khozjajstvakh Murgabskogo rajona, Upravlenie sel’kogo khozjajstva Gorno-Badakhshanskoj Avtonomnoj Oblasti. KhorogGoogle Scholar
  35. Vanselow KA (2011) The high-mountain pastures of the Eastern Pamirs (Tajikistan) – an evaluation of the ecological basis and the pasture potential. Dissertation thesis, Universitätsbibliothek der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, ErlangenGoogle Scholar
  36. Walter H, Breckle S-W (1986) Ökologie der Erde: Geo-Biosphäre. Fischer, StuttgartGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth Sciences, Centre for Development Studies (ZELF), Geographic SciencesFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations