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UN Agency To Help Tajikistan Avert Famine

A Tajik woman cooks food over an open fire due to lack of electricity.
DUSHANBE -- The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) will supply Tajikistan with $10 million worth of food this year to avert famine, the aid agency said.

The impoverished Central Asian nation bordering Afghanistan has suffered from drought, locust infestation, and a record cold winter this year. Energy and water shortages have become widespread, threatening to fuel public discontent.

"The prices of bread and vegetable oil have more than doubled in Tajikistan since August 2007, while prices of most other foodstuffs have risen by more than 50 percent," the WFP said in a statement.

The Tajik economy and infrastructure are still in tatters following a civil war in the 1990s. A foreign debt of more than 40 percent of gross domestic product is adding to its woes.

In the opening months of the year, millions of Tajiks struggled to survive without electricity, hot water, and heating after the coldest winter in decades hit the mountainous nation.

Tajikistan's stability is key to the West as it tries to secure law and order in neighboring Afghanistan.