Boosting traditional water-saving techniques for resilience of local communities in the Karakum desert

Aug 13, 2014

Construction of the sardob

Traditional water-saving techniques are being used as an adaptation mechanism for climate change and to improve the livelihood of these small-scale farmers in Karakum desert under UNDP project “Addressing climate change risks to farming system in Turkmenistan, at the national and local levels”.

In an extremely water scarce Karakum Desert, the surface water runoffs formed after precipitation on the clay spaces - takyrs, can be the only source of drinking water for local inhabitants and their livestock. The natural takyr catchments are prevalent throughout the Karakum Desert, and play a crucial role in supplying water for 45-50% of desert grasslands. Over course of centuries, the local population inhabiting these areas has developed unique traditional techniques for collecting and storing rainwater. Nowadays, in face of climate change challenges, traditional rainwater collection practices is proven to a low cost response of the communities to climate change that has a bearing on water resources and livelihood of local communities living in desert areas.

United Nations Development Programme in Turkmenistan, the Ministry of Nature Protection of Turkmenistan, and the Adaptation Fund supported construction of various hydro structures applying those practices in order to meet the needs of the local communities which heavily rely on desert husbandry in the pilot area of the Karakum.

Local communities participated into the activities including cleaning of surfaces of takyr water catchments from overgrowth and debris. In accordance with agreement signed by UNDP and Farmers Association “Karakum” located in Darvaza district of Ahal province – the local construction craftsmen are currently engaged in construction and repair of water wells, sardobs and kaks (rainwater pits) used for collecting and storing surface water runoffs.

A project monitoring trip was carried by UNDP, senior officials from the Ministry of Nature Protection of Turkmenistan and the project team in late June to oversee the construction works of wells and sardobs in the project region of Karakum. In addition, local water users were encouraged to actively engage in monitoring over the implementation of adaptation measures (also at design, construction and operation stages) and strengthen their organizational capacities. The project has successfully organized and conducted a series of trainings for forming Water Users Groups (WUGs) which would operate on the principles of integrated water resource management. In Karakum project region, on territory of grazing livestock farms No. 1 and No. 2 the water users have recently created WUGs and its organizational structure. The WUG members are now actively cooperating with the local administration and project staff. WUGs have also started the process of identifying the needs of the local population which later will be formed into specific project proposals for further developing traditional water saving practices in order to effectively address climate change challenges faced by local communities living in the Karakum desert.

Contact information

Project Manager, AF Project
Mr. Ahmet Shadurdiev

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Turkmenistan 
Go to UNDP Global