Adaptation Technologies 101: Intro to climate resilient use of water resources by local communities in Turkmenistan

Construction of on-farm collector in Sakar-Chage Pilot site.

In accordance with the National Strategy of Turkmenistan on Climate Change, adopted in 2012, it is projected that by 2040 temperature will rise by about 2°C throughout Turkmenistan. The rate of change in temperature will become more intense after 2040. The calculations show an increase in temperature of 2-3°C to 6-7°C by 2100. Until 2020, a slight increase in rainfall is expected, followed by a sharp decrease. The rate of decrease in rainfall will be more noticeable after 2040, and by 2100, rainfall will decrease from between 8% and 17%.

These circumstances lead to a reduction of river flow (the Amu Darya: by 10-15% through 2050, Murghab, Tedjen and Etrek – by 5-8% through 2040). Of particular importance is the reduction of flow of local rivers during the growing season; projections of reductions up to 30% underscore the seriousness of the situation.

Total annual water resources, due to climate change, may experience a decrease by 5.5 billion m3 (or 20%). In this connection, there is a range of activities to improve irrigated lands, technical re-equipment of irrigation systems, and introduction of innovative technologies for land and water management. High importance is given to international cooperation on sustainable use and protection of land and water resources, particularly improving management efficiency, taking into account the requirements of environmental protection. 

Highlights

  • A Special Resolution signed by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in January 2015, has adopted “The Working Programme for the rational use of water resources in Turkmenistan and enhance the ability of the flow of the Karakum River for the period of 2015-2020”, which stipulates a complete reconstruction of existing water structures and construction of new hydroelectric installations throughout the Karakum River (1,100 km).

UNDP is providing advice and technical assistance to the Government's efforts to improve water management. Within the activities of the joint project AF/UNDP/MNP “Addressing climate change risks to farming system in Turkmenistan at national and local levels” launched organizational and technical adaptation measures aimed at finding solutions to the challenges posed for the sustainable management of water resources in the context of climate change. The aforementioned project uses a combination of efforts to implement adaptation measures on water use efficiency among local communities, and to provide advice on the improvement of national laws and regulations designed to ensure the sustainability of project results. A methodological plan, coupled with a staged framework for implementation of adaptation measures - based on the wishes and needs of local communities - has been prepared. 

In three typical agro-ecological regions - mountains, desert, and oasis – total irrigated area is currently being expanded using various hydraulic structures, necessary for the sustainable development of the varying sectors of the Turkmen agricultural community: from standard irrigated agriculture, to desert and mountain farming.  

In addition, in order to fully meet the drinking water needs of the local population, particularly those conducting small-oasis agriculture and animal husbandry, hydraulic structures are being built which stem from traditional methods of accumulating and storing local. Planning focused on optimal place for water facilities such as wells, sardoba, kaks (rain pits), dams, and reservoirs. In the mountainous region of Nohur, the system of available natural springs was restored, reservoirs were reconstructed, and the area under drip irrigation was enhanced, all of which were necessary for the growth and welfare of local communities. 

The oasis area has a broad and diversified network of irrigation canals and drainage systems. However, it is not currently harnessing the latest technical advancements, a circumstance which leads to large losses of water for the irrigation of crops. As a result, problems of secondary salinization and waterlogging of irrigated lands are exacerbated. In the irrigated area of Sakarchaga, one project has undertaken a comprehensive reconstruction of drainage systems, construction and repair of water control facilities, planning of irrigation systems using laser equipment, and restoring wastelands. Based on the needs of local communities, it was decided to produce and install regulating facilities in irrigated areas used by land tenants and individual brigades which are operated by the Farmers’ Association “Zahmet”. In irrigated areas in the pilot region of Sakarchaga, 16 water control structures were manufactured and installed, and two water control structures were repaired. These facilities allow the uniform provision of water to about 2,392 hectares of irrigated land. Total savings of irrigation water will be more than 10%, taking into account the limits of irrigation water for cotton and wheat. It should be noted that these improvements are projected to increase the income of local communities by 20%. Water control structures will help to evenly and fairly distribute irrigation water, and the proportional and transparent distribution of irrigation water among communities will help to improve water use efficiency and increase revenue for tenants and farmers in the Sakarchaga pilot region. The establishment of a tree nursery has facilitated activities aimed at reforestation, and landscaping around homes and schools. This aspect of the project has also contributed to a marked increase in the total area of forest plantations around irrigated fields. More than 4,500 different types of trees and shrubs, both decorative and fruit-bearing were planted. Innovative technology to modernize the water infrastructure adapted to the local context of the environment of Turkmenistan will be further used for wider replication in additional regions of the country.

Additional programmatic activities include the cleaning of 31.5 km2-farm reservoirs (across four collectors). Previously,  unpaved road verges were built without observing necessary requirements for collectors, which caused siltation and backwater. Selective-based and partial cleaning of the reservoirs in previous years did not lead to desired improvements, due to lack of technologies for cleaning collectors, and insufficient operating levels. This created backwaters, and poor outflow of groundwater, and ultimately degraded the ameliorative capacity of surrounding lands. In addition, canals and reservoirs have deformed wall boards, which require additional effort to straighten and reinforce. When overgrown with vegetation such as reeds, the line collector experiences a marked reduction in the flow of water. This decrease of flow precipitates further sedimentation of the reservoir bed. As such, it is necessary to carry out regular cleaning of the reservoir sediments from both sides and deepen its channel. In order to improve the available irrigated land area, save water, and improve the living standards of the local communities, – it a new collector (with a length of 5 km) is scheduled to be constructed, undertaken by “Marysuvhozhalyk” (Mary Water Company).

In addition to introducing adaptation measures in the pilot regions, there were also numerous training sessions conducted, where local communities have been trained in designing projects to address the rational use of water and provide a sustainable harvesting of agricultural crops. of the motivation of local water user groups ensures active participation in the management of water resources.

Seyitnurov Gichgeldy, one of the farmers in the village of Nohur, said that “the increasing scarcity of water resources due to processes of climate change is forcing local communities to become more active in order to enhance their adaptive capacity, and develop effective strategies to address the challenges of climate change, as well as the introduction of alternative methods for a more sustainable use of local water resources.” The main achievement of the AF Project is the provision of methodological, technical and advisory services to local communities in order to overcome the negative impact of climate change. 

A Special Resolution signed by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in January 2015, has adopted “The Working Programme for the rational use of water resources in Turkmenistan and enhance the ability of the flow of the Karakum River for the period of 2015-2020”, which stipulates a complete reconstruction of existing water structures and construction of new hydroelectric installations throughout the Karakum River (1,100 km). Under this program, the joint project AF/UNDP/MNP “Addressing climate change risks to farming system in Turkmenistan at national and local levels” also carries out work to overcome the existing barriers to achieving greater efficiency and productivity of water in this arid environment, exacerbated by climate change.

Technical re-equipment of water infrastructure in the pilot areas of the AF project will help to create a baseline for testing advanced technologies and various approaches to water management in Turkmenistan. Innovative technologies to modernize the water infrastructure - adapted to the local context - will be replicated in other regions of the country.

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Turkmenistan 
Go to UNDP Global