“Because of a lack of water, we have experienced a crop loss of between 30 and 50% every year," reports Davron Bekturdiev, director of the Yangibazar Water Users Association (WUA).
Food security is a top priority for Uzbekistan, while agriculture also plays a critical role in the country’s economic development. The government has called for rural populations to actively sow and grow agricultural products in their household plots. A sustainable water supply has been essential for ensuring the population’s food security, while also making sure their agriculture remains economically profitable.
About 50% of the Khorezm region’s GDP is supported by agricultural production, a sector employing 60% of the region’s workforce. The availability of irrigation water is vital to the agricultural sector, and by extension both the region’s economy and the welfare of its population.
Residents of the “Kadriyat” village of Khorezm region’s Yangibazar district mainly make their living in agriculture, growing crops on 120 hectares of household plots (tomorka) and dekhkan plots, while also raising livestock and poultry, and running beekeeping operations. Their products are grown mainly for their own consumption, while the rest is sold at the local market.
Irrigation problems have existed in the “Kadriyat” village for many years, with a lack of irrigation water having had a detrimental effect on its agricultural productivity. The main irrigation source for household plots used to be drainage water from collectors and groundwater, which had a negative impact on soil quality and productivity.
The “Kadriyat” village is one of the selected seven pilot communities for the ‘Technical Capacity Building’ project implemented by UNDP in close partnership with the Ministry of Water Resources in the frame of broader EU program on ‘Sustainable Management of Water Resources in Rural Areas of Uzbekistan’. With common efforts of the project and representatives of Kadriyat village the access to water of residents of mahalla was assessed.
An initial assessment undertaken together with village residents has found that the main cause of the population’s difficulty in accessing irrigation water has been that household plots are located above the main water source, being the Buzyap Canal. To resolve this problem, it was determined that work should be undertaken to improve the canal’s condition and water level.
This year the project finished constructing a facility to regulate water intake for the Kadriyat village’s community and farmers. As a result, the water supply for 120 hectares of household plots and 160 hectares of farms, of which 100 hectares are garden fields, has been improved by significantly reducing water losses. It’s generally expected that the area with an improved water supply will increase by 1,200 hectares.
“Before this year water shortages greatly impacted crop selection and the well-being of our livestock, as well as our success in poultry farming. Now thanks to the facility and the regulated water intakes provide the residents and farmers of the Kadriyat mahalla can receive sufficient irrigation water,” Mr. Bekturdiev added. “This year we are producing cotton, wheat and rice in irrigated areas, while our community residents will grow corn, sorghum, fruits and vegetables in their household plots.”
Since 2016 the project has strengthened the technical capacity of WUA Buzyap. To improve working conditions for the association’s staff, their premises have been renovated and equipped with furniture and office equipment. Vehicles and water-measuring instruments have been purchased to meet the association’s needs.
Two pumping stations have been built, and the Buzyap canal has been cleaned out in spring this year. The construction of a unified power supply system for pumping stations on the Daryalik – Arna Canal has also been completed, significantly improving the efficiency of water management on the canal, while also reducing electricity costs.