Ashgabat, 25 October 2017 (nCa) — In a colourful ceremony Monday, some 300 cottages in a newly built housing scheme in Ashgabat were handed to the owners. — It is not just a luxury residence project; it is part of the overall, integrated development strategy of Turkmenistan.
Under a broad concept that covers several areas, the first cottage complex in Turkmenistan – Taze Zaman – was opened in October 2014 some 40 km west of Ashgabat.
Subsequently, similar cottages schemes were opened in other provinces: Bagtiyar Zaman, June 2016, Dashoguz province; Berkarar Zaman, July 2016, Lebap province; and Dovletly Zaman, July 2016, Mary province.
Based on conversations with some officials who are privy to the planning process, here is why these cottages play an important role in the development strategy of Turkmenistan:
The Turkmen people generally want to live close to the ground; they want their own land and their own roof.
There are two types of cottages: 1. Cottages in urban areas; and 2. Cottages in rural areas.
There are some design differences between the two – the urban cottages occupy smaller land plots (typically 400 square meters) whereas the rural cottages are built on larger pieces of land (typically 2000 square meters).
The quality of construction and the level of amenities and comforts in both types of cottages are similar to each other. The difference is that the urban cottages have been provided with about a 100 sq meter semi-developed garden and the rural cottages have especially designated space for farm animals.
Likewise, the urban cottages have the top floor in the shape of a huge hall (suitable for birthday parties etc.) while the rural cottages have the sheds that can be converted into temporary accommodation for farm help.
The cottages, as they provide quality housing at easily affordable bank loan, are designed to help move the country to the day when the private sector would be contributing some 70% of GDP.
This is an important point to note as it also explains as to why Turkmenistan insists on treating every area of life, economy and policy as a holistic concept.
The land reforms came just recently (9-10 October 2017) but the idea of such reforms was there as early as 2012 when the construction work started on Taze Zaman cottage complex.
There are two main elements of the agricultural land reforms: 1. Land can now be leased for a period up to 99 years; and 2. The tenants who have successfully fulfilled state target for at least 5 years can be allowed to cultivate anything they want on the land in their control.
The longer term of lease and the freedom to sow whatever they want will lead to timely cultivation of crops – mainly cash crops – that are anticipated to fetch higher price in the local and regional markets. This will not only bolster food security but nurture new generations of prosperous farmers, able to enjoy a higher lifestyle on the strength of their farm success.
The rural cottages are built to satisfy the demands of such farmers. If they can get quality housing close to their lands, they will not feel the urge to move to Ashgabat for more comfortable housing. Moreover, with no commute time between the city residence and rural farm, they will be able to focus better on their land management and crop care.
Another intended purpose is that the farmers in such cottages, who are invariably educated and well versed with the agricultural practices to reach such level of success, would be living in the same neighbourhood. As such, they will have the opportunity to meet each other and exchange view on further development of their farming practices and experimentation with new crops and more efficient methods of irrigation and crop care.
It means that Turkmenistan hopes to create micro-communities across the rural landscape to boost the agricultural sector by providing them with superior housing and the environment for impromptu brainstorming. — The rural cottages are, therefore, a permanent space for power networking.
The intended purposes of the urban cottages are similar in a way and yet discernibly different.
The owners in the first housing sector of urban cottages, opened recently in a posh area of Ashgabat – there are more to come – are mostly the businessmen.
Prosperity brings its own needs, one such need being the desire for better housing. By providing the successful businessmen with the opportunity to own their own land and roof in a coveted part of Ashgabat, the planners are rightly hoping to meet this need.
It is also a fact that when the business people reach a certain level of success, it becomes affordable for them to locate their families to a country where they feel that quality of life is better.
This is what the planners had in mind when they prepared the 5-year development plan of Turkmenistan for the period 2012-2016.
When the business people become successful, they should be able to find living accommodations comparable in standard and quality with any developed country.
Since a good house is not the only thing a prosperous family seeks – there is the need for better education, healthcare, and entertainment – the planners are looking at the whole picture.
There are currently at least two universities – international university of humanity and development, and technical university in collaboration with Japan – where fee-based quality education is provided with the help of foreign teachers. With gradual privatization of education, the quality and diversity of education will increase.
The medical district in the southern part of Ashgabat has some of the best equipped diagnostic and treatment facilities in the region. Doctors and medical staff are gradually being trained to make the best use of those facilities.
Consequently, good housing, better education and quality healthcare are in various phases of being available to all, including those who have worked hard to succeed in the agricultural or business sectors.
Another factor, valid both for rural and urban cottage schemes, is that there would be the need to drive less from the place of residence to the place of work, leading to economization of fuel and reduction of damage to the environment.
Speaking of driving between the place of residence and place of work, and the concern for environment, let’s point out another aspect of the holistic planning in Turkmenistan.
The people watching Turkmenistan closely must have noticed that every year there are two massive tree plantations campaigns. Although trees and saplings are planted all over the country, there is very heavy stress on the area between Annew and Goekdepe. This is the green belt touching these two districts and passing through Ashgabat.
The area from Annew to Goekdepe sees the heaviest daily road traffic moving in and out of Ashgabat. People drive to Ashgabat for work or other purposes in the morning and return home in the evening. With more emission on this belt, the country is obviously planting more trees in this area to locally neutralize the effects of road pollution. This steadily growing green belt, together with quality housing spreading to rural areas, will ensure sustainability of environment.
The cottage complex in Ashgabat is, therefore, totally integrated with the concept of holistic planning in Turkmenistan. /// nCa