The human population of the whole Wakhan/Pamir area - both settled Wakhi and nomad Kirghiz - suffer from a compound of problems including chronic poverty, ill health, lack of education, food insecurity, and opium addiction, arising from the remoteness and harshness of their environment and the lack of resources and facilities. The furthest clinic into the Wakhan is at Khandud, one hour driving distance before Qala-e-Panj. On horseback, Khandud is 4 hours from Qala-e-Panj, 4 days from Sarhad-e-Boroghil and up to 10 days from Manara at the easternmost part of the Little Pamir. Furthermore, beyond Sarhad-e-Boroghil into the Small Pamir and beyond Qala-e-Panj into the Big Pamir, there is no education facilities available, which leads to very high illiteracy rates.

Few UN and NGOs have assistance programs in the Wakhan due to its relative isolation, low population densities, and difficult access. One can mention two NGOs:

  • Aga Khan Development Foundation (FOCUS) in Eshkashem
  • ORA international (Orphans, Refugees and Aid) has a base at Ghaz Khan near Qala-e-Panja, around half way up the Wakhan valley, and is working in a group of 25 villages in the surrounding area. Women from each village have been nominated to receive training in basic health issues. Dr Alex Duncan, his wife and their three children are running ORA’s health program. In addition to his work as a Dr Alex has assisted with the building of a school and advises Shah-e-Panj on rural development. Do not hesitate to pay him a visit in Ghaz Khan on your way back and leave him your unused medicine.