12 September 2011
Last updated at 15:05
Twenty years after independence, the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan remains the poorest of the former Soviet republics. (Images and text: Abdujalil Abdurasulov, BBC News)
Almost half of the population live below the poverty line. According to the World Food Programme, one third of the rural population – some 1.5 million people – do not have enough to eat.
Many men have gone to Russia to find work – leaving women to look after the land. According to Russia’s Central Bank, Tajik workers sent $2.21bn (£1.39bn) home from Russia in 2010 – almost half of Tajikistan’s GDP.
Sayli has eight children. Her three sons are working in Russia on construction sites and the rest of the family survive on the money that they send home.
There are constant power cuts, despite Tajikistan's huge potential for hydro-electricity. The Soviet Union built several hydro-electric plants, but many are now ageing. A lack of investment and opposition from downstream neighbours are obstacles to building new ones.
Access to clean drinking water remains a problem in many rural areas. In many households, children are sent to fill containers from a public supply.
Guljakhon is a village teacher. She thinks life was better as part of the Soviet Union. “Today, nobody in the hospitals will pay attention to you unless you pay a bribe,” she says. “If you don’t have money, you will die in your bed.”
In the capital, Dushanbe, giant construction projects are changing the face of the city – but apartments in the new high rises are unaffordable for most.
This worker is putting the final touches on the tiling in front of the presidential palace. Intended to send a message that the country is becoming more prosperous, some view it as an example of government excess.