Managing drought in Tajikistan

28 Jun 2021

Drought management plans can identify and mitigate risks of cyclical droughts to increase food security and efficiency of water resource use.

Tajikistan is no stranger to drought. In the Central Asian country’s Pyanj river basin, moderate droughts – which reduce crop yields by 20% - occur once every three to four years. To help combat the effects of drought, our Sustainable Water and Land Resources Development experts prepared a Drought Management Plan identifying risks and mitigation measures needed to provide timely relief during a drought. For the first time in Tajikistan, our experts used geographic information management system (GIS) at basin level, an important tool for monitoring and evaluating the water sector development and facilities of the Pyanj Basin.

The Drought Management Plan: The four keys to mitigating impact

  • Drought monitoring and warning
    Being alerted to the onset of a drought is a key requirement for effective management. A warning can buy important lead time to take steps to mitigate the impact. Measures may include crop selection and planting decisions that allow for lower irrigation water availability, prioritizing water use in a way that increases efficiency, and planning relief measures to provide support to those in drought-affected areas.
  • Improving water use efficiency
    In parts of the Pyanj Basin where droughts are expected, it is important that water is used efficiently: rationing water, and making sure farmers maintain their allocated amounts.
  • Prioritization of water use

In the event of a drought, it is crucial to determine the most effective allocation of available water to competing uses, and strictly control water use. The highest priority for scarce water will be for domestic supply, to safeguard the population over livestock and crops.

  • Access to supplementary resources
    Increasing the water supply is key. This can be achieved by tapping additional sources such as groundwater, use of mobile pumping units to extract water from lakes, rivers and streams that are not regularly used for water supply, and the use of temporary conveyance systems to transport water from regions where it is more plentiful.

Post-drought relief and recovery

The recovery phase focuses on rebuilding agricultural activities and making sure water supply systems are fully restored and efficient. In addition to providing water to impacted communities, supplies of food and healthcare are often required. Therefore, extensive community support is needed where droughts are severe. Since a drought can also cause significant longer-term health problems, additional healthcare may be necessary to overcome the impact of a period of poor nutrition, the spread of infection via low-quality water and other health issues.

Driving Tajikistan’s Water Sector Reform Program
Tractebel was selected among six shortlisted international companies by the Asian Development Bank. The project, which began in May 2017 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2021, supports the Government of Tajikistan in three key areas:

  • Major water sector reforms.
  • Preparation of a development plan for the largest river basin in the country (area 114,500 km2, population over 75 million).
  • Formation of the Joint Commission for the Pyanj River Basin, River Basin Organization and River Basin Council for effective joint management by Tajikistan and Afghanistan based on the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

The main areas of impact of the project, which are aligned with the national Water Sector Reform Program 2016–2025, are increased food security and efficiency of water resource use by 2021. In consultation with stakeholders, the following key actions of the drought management plan are scheduled:

  • Basin-wide institutions streamlined for implementing the IWRM process
  • Delivery of equitable and reliable irrigation water supplies and drainage services
  • Improved water services and sanitation infrastructure
  • Enhanced protection from water-related disasters
  • Safeguarding sustainable ecosystems
The water management plan for the Pyanj river basin aims to maximize the economic and social benefits in an equitable manner and ensure the sustainability of vital ecosystems. Our team is proud to be a part of this important initiative by designing a long-term drought management plan, one that we hope will make a significant positive impact on the region and serve as a blueprint for drought management for others.

Plamen Bozakov, Project Manager, Sustainable Water and Land Resources Development - Tractebel in Germany


Find out more about water resource management in the Pyanj River Basin

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