Climate and Disaster Resilient Irrigation and Drainage set to reshape lives of farmers in Tajikistan


SMEC has been appointed alongside BARS Consulting to deliver Climate and Disaster Resilient Irrigation and Drainage Modernization in the Vakhsh River Basin. The Vakhsh river is the major tributary of the Amu Darya, which is the largest in Central Asia.

Tajikistan is a landlocked and mountainous country prone to earthquakes and landslides and vulnerable to extreme weather conditions brought on by climate change. Agriculture is the most common form of employment but over time irrigation and drainage (I&D) infrastructure has deteriorated, putting heightened pressure on food security and the wider economy.

Key challenges faced by the community include rising water tables and salinity, aging infrastructure which is vulnerable to earthquakes, and inflexible and unreliable irrigation, which locks farmers into rigid (mostly cotton-wheat) cropping with low yields. Farmers and government agencies also lack the capacity to modernise agricultural and irrigation practices.

The Vakhsh River Basin project is the first gender equity themed I&D investment of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Tajikistan. Despite women’s crucial role in agriculture and as primary water users, they do not have equal access to knowledge and inputs for improved agricultural productivity. They also have a limited role in decision-making on water management because of their low representation in water user associations. The project will help to enhance climate resilience, water productivity, and the income of female and male farmers by modernising selected areas of the Yovon I&D system.

The project vision is framed across three key outputs:

  • Modernisation of climate and disaster resilient I&D infrastructure.
  • Strengthening of climate adaptive management and gender-responsive operation of I&D systems.
  • Strengthening of policy for suitable water management.

Details of scope

The Yovon I&D has a net irrigation command area of 40,335 hectares, and the system is highly exposed to climate and earthquake hazards. It is heavily reliant on irrigated agriculture for employment and subsistence and is characterized by highly erodible fine grained (loess) soils on sloping terraces.

SMEC and BARS consulting will lead services across four concurrent work streams, to be delivered over a program of approximately 60 months:

  • Engineering planning, studies, surveys, investigations, design, cost estimating, contract documents preparation, works construction supervision and construction contracts management for irrigation, drainage and irrigation Object safety improvement works
  • Institutional development, strengthening, training and capacity building for improved water management and systems MOM at the level of both local water user and supporting system management organizations
  • Agricultural development for improved and sustainable irrigated agriculture production and productivity, through training, demonstrations and establishment of extension and support organizations for farmer and farm manager capacity strengthening, and through demonstrations, technical support and advisory facilities for farm mechanization and mechanized maintenance of I&D systems
  • Overall project management and coordination support, including for environmental assessments and management and for project monitoring and evaluation (M&E)

“SMEC has built a broad client base across the Central Asia Republics and Caucasus region with ongoing projects in Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Georgia.

SMEC will help implement nature-based solutions for soil stabilisation and effective irrigation management practices that will enable a more sustainable way of life for the Tajikistan farming community. Using advance GIS & digital technologies, we will help build management capacity and design training opportunities for female and male agriculture workers in the region.”

Source: SMEC