During their stay in the Iskashim region in Pamir, the experts of the Development Policy Foundation together with the local partner of the project – NGO Gulu Gyoh discussed alternative solutions of combating the extreme poverty in the region and related high migration rates, among other – development of the regional production (including ecological), creating facilities for local tourism (especially accommodation) and improving the efficiency of land cultivating methods – product processing, extending the growing season through construction of greenhouses and safe food storage. Handicrafts could constitute an alternative source of income to the Ikashim region inhabitants e.g. processing of wool and leather – once hand dyed with the use of the natural dyes. Such actions were identified as a way to foster preservation of the local culture, including generations-old natural medicine practices – advanced balneology and phytotherapy traditionally applied by the Pamir mountains communities. However, lack of the proper equipment greatly limited the potential of turning these ideas into the prospering local business. Processing of wool on a larger scale wouldn’t be possible without wool carding machine, at least one grain separator available in the region was necessary to improve the efficiency of the local agriculture and minimal investments were required to adapt selected rooms (guesthouse) to the needs of tourists.
At the meeting organized in the village of Sumdjin, local residents agreed that the solution to these problems could be establishment of an agricultural cooperative and sharing of the agricultural tools bought as a joint investment. Cooperative would be also more economically competitive while searching for new market opportunities to sell manufactured products and more effective in applying for external aid. The legal formula of the cooperative would also be in line with the traditional for the region custom of joint decision-making regarding the issues important to the local community.
The project implemented in 2014 was funded by the Education for Democracy Foundation from the means of the Polish-American Freedom Foundation.