For the last few years, farmers in remote villages of Ayni district in Tajikistan incurred huge losses as the irrigation canals get damaged due to climate change-induced events like rapid snowmelt and excessive rainfall.
For instance, in 2017, there was a 75% decrease in the harvest in Urmetan village, as the irrigation canal was damaged.
The same situation occured in the larger Zeravshan valley of Tajikistan, where poor communities faced aggravating erosion of arable land because of poor irrigation practices.
Climate risks further exacerbate irrigation demand, accelerate land degradation, and increase harvest losses.
In 2020, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with the support of the Government of the Russian Federation, established two drip irrigation systems in two selected orchards in Urmetan and Yori villages. This endeavour complemented earlier tree planting activities on desert slopes within a disaster risk reduction and ecosystem restoration initiative.
Drip Irrigation is an efficient system that delivers water directly to the plants’ root zone, in the right amount, at the right time, so each plant gets exactly what it needs and when it needs it to grow optimally. It enables farmers to produce higher yields while saving on the water as well as fertilizers and fuel.
Farmers are now happy to see the problem of irrigation has a sustainable solution. As a result, they yield better. Not only that, it reduces the risk of mudflows and flooding in villages located downhill. The villagers now want to scale up the practice using their resources.
“There is lack of arable land and together with the project we demonstrated to the villagers that natural resources can bring more if you use them effectively,” says Safulloh Dustmuhammedov, one of the farmers, who is very happy to see that his idea of making the desert slopes usable becomes true.
As the project experience shows, the desert slopes turned into orchards can bring multiple positive outcomes: economic, disaster risk reduction, environmental restoration, and esthetical.
This initiative is a part of the “Building Climate Resilience in Agriculture and Water Sectors of Rural Tajikistan” project. The project aims to integrate the best-tested technologies and practices for climate adaptation and build the capacity of the local population. Drip irrigation technology is a valuable contribution to the goal.
Thus, UNDP continues to work with the government for a comprehensive approach to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.