Mike Bowles - Tajikistan
In 2005, Mike did an internship in Tajikistan. He’s still there.
Read About Mike
Where and when were you posted?
In 2005, I was posted with the Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDSP) in Tajikistan.
What did you do there?
When I arrived in Tajikistan over two years ago, my goal was two-fold: to gain work experience; and, to assist my organization to implement a program aimed at improving livelihoods of rural mountainous communities. The AKFC internship placed me with MSDSP, a rural development project of the Aga Khan Foundation Tajikistan.
In the first eight months with MSDSP, I undertook a feasibility study for professionalizing the microfinance activities of different community-based organizations (CBO) – to register them as microfinance institutions (MFI) under a new Tajik law. Based on the study findings, MSDSP initiated a pilot project that has since provided lessons for the entire country. Following the internship, MSDSP offered me an entry position with its Policy and Evaluation Unit. Over the following year, I supported MSDSP with donor reporting, evaluations, policy formulation, grant proposals, and a new three-year strategy. The extensive field exposure, management responsibility, and on-the-job learning provided me with a head-start on a career in development.
What are you doing these days?
Today, I am still working with the Programme as a Grant Manager. I am working with two colleagues in the Policy Evaluation Unit (PEU): one will soon take over my responsibility for operations as the new manager while the other will take over planning as the new grants coordinator. My goal is now focused on supporting my Tajik colleagues, who will need to facilitate the implementation of MSDSP programs over the long term. Two years in Tajikistan have taught me that every developmental approach must have a sustainable mechanisms, whether they are community organizations, government, the private sector, or improving the capacity of national staff. Once successful, I am certain that there will remain new challenges for me in Tajikistan or back home in Canada.
|Men in Iskashim, along the Tajik-Afghan border in the Pamir mountains, taking their livestock to a winter pasture.
|MSDSP agronomist with community members at a demonstration site, where best practices in potato cultivation are shown.|
|Community members reap the harvest at an MSDSP demonstration site.
|MSDSP supports communities to plant new fruit tree orchards. Many orchards were cut down for their wood during the crises that followed the break-up of the Soviet Union and subsequent civil war (1991-97) in Tajikistan.|
|An MSDSP supported greenhouse in the remote village of Median, west of Murghab in the Pamirs, is heated by a natural hot water spring. Villagers grow tomatoes and other vegetables in the greenhouse over the winter.
|A watershed river valley in the western Pamirs leading up to the mountain glaciers of the Pamir-Alai Range, seen through the window of an AKDN helicopter on flight from Dushanbe to Khorog.|
|Greg Long (fellow intern, on left), Mike (centre) and Dan Stanley, in the Fan Mountain Range, having just reached the summit.