Harnessing the power of gravity for local livelihood improvement

July 2, 2021

Khivaabad-Kaka gravity-driven water pipeline had been commissioned and was officially put into operation in April 2018, within the framework of the jointly implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the State Committee of Water Economy of Turkmenistan (SCWE), “Energy Efficiency and renewable energy for sustainable water management in Turkmenistan” project. This water pipeline was built with the purpose of improving the sanitary quality of the Kaka town drinking water supply, reducing the infiltration losses of water in the Layinsuv transboundary river, as well as to reduce energy consumption in the local water supply, which eventually leads to reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Prior to the commissioning of this facility, about 40% of the water supply in Kaka used to come from groundwater extracted by means of 41 borehole electric pumps, operating 365 days a year around the clock. The rest of the water was supplied directly from the Layinsuv river through a canal laid in the earth bed of about 20 km long. Infiltration losses through the gravel bed of the channel are very high - about 50%. As a result, only half of the water withdrawn from the river used to be delivered to the treatment plant, while the rest was lost due to infiltration and evaporation.

During the period of operation of the gravity - driven water pipeline, total savings of more than 3 million cubic meters of water resources and 2 million kWh of electricity have been achieved by means of reduction in the number of operating borehole electric pumps.

The pipeline, in addition to above stated benefits has led to significant improvement in the water supply to the upstream village of Khivaabad and the farmers' association named after Takhirov, as the water intake from the Layinsuv river for water supply to the town of Kaka has decreased thanks to the reduction in infiltration losses.

The residents of the Khivaabad village now can grow fruits and vegetables on their household plots, as well as to cultivate cotton, melon and gourd on a leased land from Takhirov F/A, located near the village. Moreover, all families have equal access to water, which has led to the improvement of quality of their life. At the same time, women, who make up about half of the population of Khivaabad village, have the opportunity to manage their households properly.

In recent years, water availability has improved a lot. As a result, we annually grow vegetables and fruits on our household plot. We started to get good harvests from our vineyards and orchards. This helps our family a lot. We are able to provide our family with fresh fruits and vegetables”, says Alty Orazov and his wife Shemshat - residents of the Khivaabad village.

The commissioning of a gravity-driven water pipeline has led to leasing, by 20 families from the Khivaabad village, of 70 hectares in Takhirov F/A where they cultivate cotton and grow vegetables.

“This is the second year I have been growing cotton on the land I have leased. Last year, I managed to harvest 60 tons. Despite the late sowing this year, growth of cotton is good, and I expect to harvest about 25-30 centners per hectare which I believe is going to translate into a significant income. Due to ample water supply, I have decided to plant watermelons on a couple of hectares nearby”, says Ayjeren, a tenant-resident of the Khivaabad village.

The gravity-driven water pipeline is a rather simple and eco-friendly solution that ensures efficient water and energy use in the Khivaabad village. At the same time, the pipeline has allowed elimination of water loses during conveyance, has led to reduction of CO2 emissions from the use of electric and diesel pumps and has been contributing to the improvement of the local livelihoods for the villager dwellers who has been looking fornew economic opportunities as the water has become abundant.