Leaving the village to escape poverty

Author: Amina Mammadova


Fuzuli Khalilov, 42 and his family live in a Shamlig village in Azerbaijan’s northwest district of Tovuz, which borders both Armenia and Georgia.

He is unemployed. The family of seven--Fuzuli, his wife, four children and his mother--depends on the potatoes they grow in a small yard and his mother's pension.

Shamlig village is officially home to 371 people but Fuzuli says, in reality, it is much less--in the winter just 65 people live there. The situation is not unique to Shamlig; many rural villages in Azerbaijan are also dying out due to poverty and the lack of schools, hospitals and other necessary services. 

Fuzuli notes that something as basic as natural gas service would help restore the village. Even though the village used to be fully gasified during the Soviet period, today Fuzuli’s family and others depend on expensive firewood to heat their homes during the long winter months.