UNDP Project to Improve Water Use on Karmana District Farms

01 Jul 2014

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The Zarafshan River Basin is a region with a significant population of 5 million people, and also a large quantity of agricultural land use, but faces significant difficulties in ensuring that the farmers have access to the water they require to maintain their fields. While 84 per cent of the basin’s water resources are used in agriculture, more than 50 per cent of this resource is lost through the use of traditional but inefficient irrigation practices.

These losses could be reduced with the use of simple but effective modern irrigation practices, but all too often farmers lack the basic information and awareness needed to apply them.

To address this discrepancy and improve water use on the basin, the on-going ‘Integrated Water Resource Management and Water Efficiency Plan for Zarafshan River Basin’ project, conducted by UNDP, has this year launched the new component ‘Water Use Efficiency in Agriculture and Water Saving Technologies at a Farm Level’.

This small-scale pilot project, supported by the Every Drop Matters-IV Regional Water Partnership between UNDP and the Coca-Cola Eurasia Group, and undertaken with assistance from local government partners, is working with farms in the Navoi region’s Karmana district to improve their irrigation practices and water use efficiency. Its district-level partners include the Karmana District Khokimyiat (local authority), and the Karmana Irrigation System Department.

The project will work with farmers in the targeted district to implement better irrigation and land management technologies that will improve crop productivity and reduce water consumption, thereby releasing land and water for higher-value crops. Approaches introduced in the project will include drip irrigation, improved furrow irrigation and water scheduling, and land levelling, introduced through practical-training programmes that will focus on empowering women farmers.

The project will also develop a methodology for creating water use plans and monitoring water allocation, considering different irrigation methods and techniques. Both the benefits of using water-saving technologies and the challenges involved in adopting and up-scaling them to other regions of the country will be among the topics discussed by water sector professionals and senior agricultural managers.

It is intended that the lessons learned from the project results will be provided to the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan for scaling up to a national level. It is also planned that the project’s experiences and lessons learnt will be reflected in a National Water Resources Strategy developed together by the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources of Uzbekistan, and the IWRM project of UNDP Uzbekistan.

Photos provided by the IWRM project.