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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

During the second quarter of 2017, the project team completed GIS-based geodatabases and mapping tools for both Zafarabad and the Karshi Steppe study areas. The database includes maps and tools on irrigation infrastructure (pump stations, irrigation canals, drainage network, tube wells, etc.), irrigated areas by sources of irrigation, WUA boundaries, soil type and soil salinity, ground water table and its quality, digital elevation model, slope and aspect, irrigated land use change (for years 1977, 2000, 2015), and crop classification for 2016.

The team also prepared a report on the evaluation of different irrigation methods, with the goal of learning specifically about the practices of "bright farmers" in both study sites. They also created a logic model for the initiative on the use of innovative irrigation methods to identify opportunities to improve water- and energy-use efficiency, which will help to better identify and describe the various elements of program design, operations, and effects. Lastly, the team conducted an economic analysis of different irrigation methods, which involved the creation of an analytical framework for both cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analyses. Literature review, fieldwork, and data collection, cleaning, and analysis were initiated and are currently being worked on. A large database for all farmers in both study sites is also being developed. This database includes location, field size, projected and actual yield figures, and some other information on farmers.

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.

In the study areas, the team continued its demonstration of water-saving technologies and its assessment of irrigation efficiency for furrow, gated pipe and drip irrigation schemes in the cotton fields. During the trip to the demonstration site in Karshi, the project team provided training to local farmers on how to schedule the irrigation regimes using irrometer sensors (used to measure soil water tension) and to calibrate the soil moisture readings using the sensors with and the traditional gravimetric method. Additionally, training was provided on how to measure the level of water depletion in terms of percentage of field capacity. Then, they were instructed on how to observe and monitor the phenological measurements using Zadoks scale. The project team stressed the importance of timely and systematic measurements of soil moisture by irrometer probes and the calibration of irrometer instrument readings compared to gravimetric soil moisture measurements to ensure validity and reliability of actual soil moisture measurements.

In the coming months, the team will disseminate and promote its geodatabases and mapping tools to key stakeholders in the hope of sharing best practices in water management and supporting decision-making. They will continue monitoring and evaluating the results from the use of different irrigation methods in the Karshi steppe and Zafarabad study sites. And finalize the report on the evaluation of innovative irrigation methods, specifically focusing on the experiences of "bright farmers" in both study sites. Other analyses will be completed including the economic analysis, ecosystem analysis, and water demand analysis that have been ongoing.

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