The improved management of irrigation and water resources in the Zarafshon river basin of northern Tajikistan will help farmers to increase their crop yields and provide greater food security to the local population.

To this end, the Zarafshon Irrigation Rehabilitation and Management Improvement Project, financed through a €13.9 million grant from the Development Fund of the European Commission, has been launched by the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan and the World Bank, according to the World Bank Country Office in Tajikistan.

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maintained primary canals and pump stations, deteriorated irrigation infrastructure, unreliable electricity supply, and outdated pumping equipment.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 prevented from increasing their crop production or shifting to higher-value crops.  At present, about 40 percent 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 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 under way in four major river basins which aim at strengthening management of water resources through the 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 to 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 Province, 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 European Union-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.

The World Bank’s active portfolio in Tajikistan includes 20 projects with net commitments of US$642 million.  The World Bank remains committed to supporting Tajikistan as it strives to improve the lives of its people and meet the aspirations of its young and growing population.