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When Water Dries Up, The Donkey Market Booms

Tajik children play with a donkey -- whose value has since tripled.

Tajik children play with a donkey -- whose value has since tripled.

As a result of slow repairs to a derelict 40-year-old water-supply system, many residents of the Tajik city of Kulob are living without running water in their homes, RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reports.

That means it’s a good time to be in the donkey business.

Demand for donkeys has surged as residents without running water at home are forced to haul their daily supplies from a nearby reservoir, and need help carrying the heavy buckets. Accordingly, the price for the animals has tripled this summer. Trader Hamroqul Bozorov told RFE/RL that for many years, 100 somonis ($23) was enough for a donkey, but the price has skyrocketed to 300 somonis “for even a small donkey.”

City officials say the World Bank and other international financial institutions have invested some $3 million in renovating the water infrastructure of Kulob, a city of some 100,000. The officials hope that the work will be finished by spring 2011, allowing Kulob’s residents to put their expensive donkeys out to pasture.

-- Margot Buff

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at