DUSHANBE (TCA) — Improved management of irrigation and water resources in the Zarafshon river basin of northern Tajikistan will help farmers increase their crop yields and provide greater food security for the local population, thanks to the Zarafshon Irrigation Rehabilitation and Management Improvement Project, launched by the Government of Tajikistan and the World Bank. The Project is being financed through a EUR 13.9 million grant from the Development Fund of the European Commission.
In Tajikistan, inefficient irrigation and water loss are generally caused by poorly maintained primary canals and pump stations, deteriorated irrigation infrastructure, unreliable electricity supply, and outdated pumping equipment. Consequently, farmers are hindered from increasing their crop production or shifting to higher-value crops. At present, about 40% of potentially irrigable land in the Zarafshon river basin is used for low-yielding, rain-fed barley, wheat, and oilseed production.
The Zarafshon Irrigation Rehabilitation and Management Improvement Project will fund the rehabilitation of key irrigation infrastructure, flood protection, and feasibility studies for the improvement and modernization of irrigation schemes, the World Bank reported.
“Implementation of this project is part of the larger water sector reform in the country,” said Mr. Sulton Rahimzoda, First Deputy Minister of Energy and Water Resources. “Currently, activities are underway in four major river basins which aim to strengthen management of water resources through rehabilitation of physical infrastructure, improvement of the legal and institutional framework of the sector, and establishment of a water information system at all levels.”
In addition, the project will support high-priority irrigation reforms, strengthen the institutional capacity of the Agency on Land Reclamation and Irrigation, and support new and existing Water User Associations. The project will also help establish an important link to the Water Information System at the basin and national level, which will enable better irrigation planning and water resources management.
Mr. Rajabboy Ahmadzoda, Chairman of Sughd Region, Mr. Sulton Rahimzoda, First Deputy Minister of Energy and Water Resources, and Mr. Kholmurodi Rahmon, Director of the Agency on Irrigation and Land Reclamation, were among the key speakers at the project launch in Dushanbe. The event brought together over 30 participants from Tajik civil society, regional government institutions, development partners, and the World Bank.
“We will continue working with the Government on the current high-priority irrigation reforms,” said Bobojon Yatimov, Task Team Leader of the project. “The end goal is to provide people with improved economic opportunities and bring additional income to the country’s poorest regions.”
The project, which will be implemented by the Agency on Irrigation and Land Reclamation until December 30, 2020, is part of the broader EU-financed Rural Development Program I, which includes policy and institutional support to the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources of Tajikistan, and a community support component to be implemented in the same river basin.