Notes from monitoring (27.03.2013)

27 Mar 2013

Notes from monitoring (27.03.2013):

I remember the report of the World Bank on irrigation in Central Asia from 2003 very well as it gave a distinct  and  very  precise  picture  of  the  situation.  It  began  with  such  wordings  as:  “Irrigation  and drainage (I&D) infrastructure is beginning to fall apart. Canals are silted up or damaged, gates broken or non‐existent,   and  pumps  held  together   by  improvised   repairs  and  parts  cannibalized   from  other machinery. Across vast areas, water supply has become erratic, and land salinized and waterlogged.

Yes, indeed, the irrigation and drainage benefited  from massive investment  during the Soviet era, but then,  afterwards,  the  problems  started  emerging  as  the  maintenance  was  costly,  and  neither  the farmers, nor the Government and nor the international organizations could have impacted the situation to the needed level. No, no, I do not mean that nothing was done; on contrary, it was done and is still being,  but  not  enough  as  it  is  a  time‐consuming   and  still  expensive   exercise  (from  the  report: “Conventional  wisdom outside Central Asia is that much of the agriculture  is inherently unprofitable  at full market conditions. If that is the case, upgrading infrastructure would clearly be an unattractive proposition”.  Yet,  not  to  do  that  (implying  not  to  improve  the  system)  is  equal  to  support  further collapse. Yes, very slow and gradually things are being done but this speed may slow the development much, leaving the country no chance than to be in long‐lasting transition period.

It is commonly known that more than 60% of lands in Tajikistan are pumped. Such, for instance districts as Asht  and Zafarobod  are mainly  supplied  pumped  irrigation  water.  Well,  to help  the situation,  we (UNDP) are also contributing into enhancement of irrigation and drainage systems in these districts. But I will come to Zafarabad later on.
Now, I want to tell about what we do within the RGP’s implementation  in Asht district of Sughd, where statistically, 31,241ha of lands (93%) are pump irrigated:

  1. During the implementation of the 1st cycle of the Trust Fund, we supported the cleaning of 21km of the drainage canal, initiated by Jamoat “Kamishkurgan”.  The meliorative situation of 456ha of land will be improved and 7,499 people will benefit directly;
  2. And now,  while  the implementation  of the 2nd  cycle,  we are supporting  the rehabilitation  of
    Pump Station Asht‐1 at Jamoat Dusti. The owner and operator of this station is the State Water Department 2. This station was built in 1959 and initially was equipped with 4 pumps. Later on, in 1980, due to agricultural lands expansion, there were added 3 more. So, if calculations are correct, after rehabilitation, it will be able to supply 13,328cubic meters, irrigating 863ha of land and 8 farm holdings will benefit directly;
  3. Another  good  project  funded  within  this  cycle  (2nd)  is  improving  the  economic  wellbeing  of
    population at Jamoat “Oshoba” (Villages: Marhamat, Gulshan and Buloq) through provision of irrigation water to their homestead land (around 135ha in overall). It is estimated that 12,440 people of Jamoat (6,140 women out of which) will benefit. We supported the rehabilitation of 3 existing boreholes and digging additional 1. In this case, all these 4 pumps will be outputting approximately 100 liters of water per second

Maqsud Aripov, Manager of Khujand area office