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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER)
Cycle 4 (2015 Deadline)

Mitigating the competition for water in Amudarya River basin, Central Asia, by improving water use efficiency 

PI: Kakhramon Djumaboev ((k.djumaboev@cgiar.org), International Water Management Institute, Central Asia Sub-Regional Office
U.S. Partner: James Ayars, USDA-ARS Water Management Unit
Project Dates:  November 2015 - October 2018

Project Overview

The growing population of Central Asia has resulted in an increased demand for water for food and hydropower generation. Most of the renewable water resources are transboundary, with the main rivers flowing through several states. The hydropower generation potential is upstream, where the key reservoirs regulate the river flow, while the irrigated land, requiring 80% of the river flow, is located downstream. With water in short supply the competition for water between hydropower upstream and agriculture downstream results in reduced water use efficiency and, overall, in reduced basin-wide water productivity. Prior to recent changes, the operational regime of the upstream reservoir gave priority to upstream hydropower needs in the Syrdarya River basin, while the downstream states faced significant losses for irrigation. Developing the upstream hydropower potential may cause further reduction of water availability downstream during the crop-growing season. Under the current operating practices of the upstream reservoir, which prioritizes the needs of agriculture in the Amudarya River basin, the upstream states face significant energy shortages. The issue is very politically sensitive, when a win for one side means a loss for the other. Under these conditions securing water for agriculture through increased water use efficiency is critical for Central Asian states (Karimov et. Al, 2012).

The solution for the problem is highly complicated because of significant shortage of water to supply the needs of both – water for food and water for energy in Aral Sea basin. This project takes a two-step approach. The first is determining water and energy “gains” through increasing current water use efficiency and reducing current energy use intensity in different sectors (such as agriculture, domestic water and energy supply, industry, and power generation), which can be considered while supplying the water and energy needs of upstream and downstream users. The second is considering the above-indicated gains of demand management while analyzing benefits of cooperation. This study will focus on estimating gains through improving water and energy use in agriculture, only. Close cooperation will be established between the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Central Asia, the United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), and local partners, including specialists from the Research and Design Institute UzGIP under the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Management, Uzbekistan. The project will increase the knowledge base of water management institutes in both river basins by proposing improved irrigation technologies and management alternatives that will result in improved water use efficiency and productivity and that have high potential for adoption. Policy makers will also gain expertise by learning about potential solutions that can mitigate growing competition for water between the food and energy sectors.
 
Summary of Recent Activities

Below is the list of activities undertaken by the project team during the reporting period:

Further work was conducted on GIS -based geodatabases and mapping tools for both study areas located in Karshi steppe, Kashkadarya province, Uzbekistan and Zafarabad district, Sogd province, Tajikistan. The geodatabases consist of various input data (hydrologic data, climatological, infrastructure, water use, land use etc.), which were obtained from domains of several government and non-government organizations and present data via visually appealing maps to show the spatial and temporal distribution of water and land resources and the way they are used. The geodatabase covers maps and tools on irrigation infrastructure, WUA boundaries, irrigated areas by source of irrigation, soil type, soil salinity, groundwater data and its quality, digital elevation model, slope and aspect, irrigated land use changes and crop classification for 2016- 2017.

In addition, the research team finalized a technical report on assessment of irrigation efficiency for furrow, gated pipe and drip irrigation schemes in the cotton field in the Karshi steppe study area and submitted it to the USG partner at USDA for further review prior to publishing it on IWMI website. The research analysis revealed that higher yields and water productivity could be achieved using drip irrigation and gate pipe irrigation and there were no advantage to using traditional irrigation under the given conditions. Economic costs associated to the different treatments were also analyzed.

4-97 Farmer Training4-97 Farmer Training 2
The project team provides water management best practices to farmers and stakeholders in the Kashkadarya region of Uzbekistan.

Moreover, water demand analyses for all crops for Zafarabad were finalized for 2016-2017. Meteorological data were uploaded in the model and the simulation of different water management strategies with alternative crop allocation was conducted. A report on "Assessing Water Use, Energy Use, and Costs in Lift Irrigated Areas: A case Study from Zafarabad in Tajikistan" was also drafted. The results of this study demonstrates that using improved irrigation practices can save up to 83 MCM of irrigation water. This will then reduce the energy demand and the costs by around 24-30%. Thus, improving irrigation management can bring multiple benefits like reducing water stress, energy consumption and the costs. The results of this work revealed two key messages: First, the lift irrigation in Zafarabad like in other pumped areas in Central Asia is responsible for large water and energy use as well as the costs. Second, related, the potential for water and energy use reductions is enormous which also translates to significant costs savings. Therefore, it is essential to develop advanced on-farm water management practices concurrently with eliminating energy subsidies in agriculture to increase water productivity, reduce energy demand and protect the environment in Central Asia.

The PI and his team are drafting a technical report on the evaluation of different irrigation methods in both study sites, with the goal of learning specifically about the practices of "bright farmers" (those who achieve high levels of agricultural performance by using water- and energy-efficient technologies). The report includes an economic analysis of different irrigation methods, including an analytical framework for both cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analyses and the development of a database for all farmers in both study sites.

Finally, the IWMI-CA team conducted several trips throughout the quarter to the Karshi and Zafarabad site to collect data and meet with local project focal points. A policy dialogue workshop/conference was held in coordination with the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The conference was attended by over 200 people, including representatives of IWMI-CA office, government officials, academics, and local research community. The research team also continued its capacity building efforts, and held several lectures and presentations at Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Mechanization Engineers (TIIAME).

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