UNDP in Uzbekistan: out-of-the-box approach to solving complex issues

Oct 16, 2015

Although the residents of the Kanal-Yoqa village of Pastdargom district have gained access to drinking water only recently, today – together with neighbours from the the Sayram village – they are already mastering various techniques to diversify their labor thereby reducing the pressure on natural resources.

Promotion of efficient water use methods is one of the focus areas of UNDP in Uzbekistan. The Zarafshan River Basin had been selected as a pilot area, and significant work with good performance results has been already accomplished there.

Mr U. Amirov, Head of the Economic Department of the Pastdargom District Khokimiyat, said “A number of programs are currently underway in our district thanks to the support of UNDP. In particular, the use of advanced water management technologies became possible with the introduction of the new automated water supply system. For instance, more than 10 households have been equipped with drip irrigation systems and two greenhouses. The water pumping station serves more than 30 families to practice agriculture on their household plots. Other joint projects have included awareness-raising campaigns for schoolchildren on sanitary and hygiene issues. We will do our best to replicate this experience throughout the whole region.”

“I would like to thank UNDP for its much-appreciated assistance in opening the Hand Carpet Weaving Studio that helped employ 30 female residents of the ‘Elbek’ mahalla. And this is just the beginning of our endeavors to diversify labour in our district, which will help reduce the pressure on water and land resources and, importantly, introduce a streamlined production of exclusive carpets and facilitate our entry into end-product foreign markets. We believe that implementation of this long-term project will have a positive impact on the well-being of our community,” Mr Amirov said.

The specific nature of the activities carried out by the residents of many regions of the country has adverse effects on natural resources leading to land degradation and reduced water levels in the country’s rivers and canals. One of the solutions to this issue has been the joint Initiative of UNDP’s Global Program and the Coca-Cola Company to set up the Hand Carpet Weaving Studio in cooperation with the administration of the ‘Samarkand Bukhoro Ipak Gilami’ factory and Pastdargom District Khokimiyat. The opening of the Studio intends to serve as an example of efficient labor distribution by engaging people in various activities – including traditional ones –, which is also important in terms of gender role assignment.

Hand carpet weaving has historically been a widespread practice in Uzbekistan. The most ancient carpet sample was found during archaeological excavations in Khorezm and was dated the 1st millennium BC. It has traditionally been a female craft that requires keeping in memory hundreds of patterns and secrets of carpet weaving, which the craftswomen have passed over to their daughters, daughters-in-law and granddaughters. Hand-woven natural silk carpets are very common in Samarkand and Bukhara, therefore, the administration and community of the Pastdargom District welcomed UNDP’s initiative to open the Studio as a branch of the ‘Samarkand Bukhoro Ipak Gilami’.

“I am very pleased that, thanks to the initiative and support of UNDP in Uzbekistan, women living in our mahalla have mastered this wonderful craft and can now teach it their daughters and daughters-in-law,” said Gulnora Tursunova, adviser of the ‘Elbek’ mahalla committee in the Sayram village, Pastdargom District, Samarkand Region.

Gulnora was involved in organizational work during the special 40-day hand carpet weaving training course. She was responsible for the selection of future craftswomen, telling their families about the advantages of working in the Studio, since, as she said, more than a thousand women live in the ‘Elbek’ mahalla and most of them are not employed yet. “The Studio provides employment and gives a real opportunity to start private manufacturing of carpets. At first, women from the mahalla had some doubts, and not all of them showed interest in learning an unfamiliar craft. Yet, they overcame the difficulties and with every kind of UNDP assistance the first recruitment group composed of 30 women completed the training course in the Studio and the practical internship on natural silk carpet weaving on the basis of the ‘Samarkand Bukhoro Ipak Gilami’ factory. I am sure that, in the coming years, we will be able to increase the number of trainees to up to 300 women,” said Gulnora. According to conventional wisdom, good intentions are half the success. Moreover, the management of the factory expressed their interest in expanding the production and employing additional weavers.

F. Niyozov, Director of the JV ‘Samarkand Bukhoro Ipak Gilami’, said: “Today, we are witnessing several beginnings of their own – the first training course for weavers arranged with the support from UNDP in Uzbekistan where I was personally involved in training sessions for 30 women; we have opened the first Hand Carpet Weaving Studio in the Pastdargom district and employed our course graduates; and finally, as proposed by UNDP, we have developed and published the first of its kind ‘Silk Carpet Weaving Manual’. You will not find any such publication anywhere else. I have travelled a lot around the world, interacted with many specialists, and can say with confidence that we are the pioneers. This manual uses a very simple language to give a detailed description of carpet weaving stages, designs, fiber dying techniques, and rules of storing finish products.”

The official opening ceremony of the Studio took place on 30th September. The ceremony was followed by the presentation of hand-woven silk carpets whose bright colors, intricate patterns and highest quality both charmed and impressed the visitors. Among these carpets were those made by the resident of Kanal-Yoqa Mukarram Ochilova who had full-time employment in the Studio after she had finished her weaving courses. She thanked the project saying “An ordinary housewife, as I am, I had not even dreamed that, at my age, I would have a chance to master a new craft and get a job. When I heard the news about the Studio recruiting trainees for its carpet weaving courses, I decided to go for it and give it a try. Now I have an employment record book and a regular income which means that I can contribute to my family budget and plan for the future.” By the way, in the beginning of their employment, the weavers will be paid a fixed salary of about UZS 500 thousand, and, over a longer term, this amount will grow by the percentage of goods sold.

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Uzbekistan 
Go to UNDP Global