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Water management, policies and legislation related to water use in agriculture


The following institutions are responsible for water resources management:

The National Parliament, Jogorku Kenesh, is responsible for: water regulation legislation, exercising state ownership rights for water resources, developing the water code and water-protection legislation, developing a state policy on the use and protection of the water fund, legislative regulation of paid water use, international contracts and agreements for water problems.

The government is responsible for: state water-economic programmes and their investment, coordination of activities between institutions and scientific-research, adoption of basic rates of payments for water use, regulation of water use and water protection, external affairs concerning water relations and water pollution.

Until 2010, the basic water management functions were concentrated in three administrative bodies: the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Process Industry (MAWR&PI), the Emergency Ministry (EM) and the Agency for Geology and Mineral Resources.

MAWR&PI was the central state body for water management with the following functions: regulation of the use of the water fund; management of state-owned hydro-economic capital assets; meeting the water requirements of the population and agricultural producers; development of irrigation infrastructure; conducting state accounting of water use; administrating the state water cadastre on water use section and control of state water use. The national-level Water Resources Department (WRD) of MAWR&PI was the basic state executing body for management of water resources for irrigation. Each oblast has a basin water resources department (BWRD); each rayon (second order administrative division) has a rayon water resources department (RWRD). In 2010, the State Committee on Water and Land Reclamation was established and entrusted with water resources management, state irrigation and land reclamation.

The Emergency Ministry is responsible for prevention of accidents and natural disasters; management of water protection; legislation of environmental protection, including water fund protection; control of sewerage disposal in water bodies, sewage treatment norms and sewage use; state water cadastre on ‘surface waters’ and ‘water quality’ sections; and monitoring of surface water bodies.

The Agency for Geology and Mineral Resources carries out the following functions: state accounting of groundwater storage; monitoring of groundwater deposits; licenses for groundwater use and the protection of groundwater.

Oblasts and rayon water resources departments are the lowest-level territorial government agencies for water management implemented by WRD. They carry out the state policy for O&M of water bodies, and regulate distribution and use of water resources, water supply to agricultural water users, water use control.

The State Water Inspection, established in 1999, is responsible for monitoring the use of water bodies, water facilities and irrigation infrastructure. It supervises the observance of legislative and statutory acts on the use of the state water fund; prevents infringement of use of water resources; conducts the state inventory on use of water resources; and promotes the rational use of irrigation water and irrigated land to prevent desertification, soil erosion, salinization and waterlogging.

Local state administration bodies (municipal bodies) participate in the management of the water fund. They are responsible for protection of the rights of water users and the allotment of land for the water fund.

Water management

Kyrgyzstan has sufficient quantities of water of excellent quality for municipal and industrial use for the foreseeable future. Because of commitments to downstream countries, water availability may become a constraint to expanding irrigation, extending land reclamation, and improving the productivity of irrigated areas, unless water use efficiency is significantly improved, and a major effort made to conserve water.

Currently, a multistage branch management system for water resources is used in Kyrgyzstan, meaning that functions and responsibilities are distributed between the various ministries and departments. These are the National Parliament, the Government, MAWR&PI (with the specialized WRD), EM, the Agency of Geology and Mineral Resources, other water use ministries and departments, local governance bodies, unions and water user associations (WUA).

The WUAs carry out the following functions with voluntary cooperation:

  • operation of irrigation, water supply and drainage networks, waste network and ponds, reservoirs, pumping stations, sprinkler machines, water-outlets and other hydraulic engineering constructions and devices;
  • water distribution among WUA members according to license conditions;
  • construction, modernization, repair, cleaning and other actions to support the proper condition for WUAs’ irrigation network and its development;
  • prevention of water pollution;
  • organization to improve the professional skills of members for irrigated agriculture.

The following projects are being completed, or have already been completed, to improve the quality of water supply and water distribution:

  • Irrigation schemes rehabilitation project (World Bank credit), 1998–2006: 31 water-economy entities have been rehabilitated, including 27 linear irrigation schemes and four reservoirs have been constructed. Rehabilitation covers an irrigation area of 120 400 ha. The total project cost: US$43.8 million.
  • Water management improvement project, started in 2006, assisted rehabilitation of 20 irrigation schemes with 84 000 ha abolished irrigated land. Total project cost: US$28 million.

The following investment projects have been prepared:

  • Irrigation scheme rehabilitation project, Phase II, 2007–2012: Primary activity is restoration of design parameters, modernization of inter-economic irrigation schemes and dam safety on an irrigated area of about 106 222 ha. Estimated cost US$46 million. An additional US$3 million is reserved for organizational aspects.
  • New land development project, Phase I, 2007–2010: Primary activity is the restoration of design parameters, modernization of inter-economic irrigation schemes and dam safety on an irrigated area of about 28 000 ha. Estimated cost US$55 million.

In 2007 the MAWR&PI published the Agricultural Development Strategy in collaboration with numerous government agencies, donors, private sector organizations and civil society representatives. The three-year process was facilitated and funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at a cost of US$600 000. Since there is limited scope for expansion of the agricultural area, the principal source of growth must be through increasing agricultural productivity. The strategy focuses on ensuring continuous flows of knowledge and innovations to private production entities and government administration agencies.

In 2010, a new Agricultural Development Strategy (2011–2020) was formulated by the new government, which requested assistance from FAO to support the strategy. Eight priority sectors were selected: public sector services; agro-processing and marketing; land market development; water resources management; training, research and development; trade and tax policy; rural credit and rural development. The anticipated impact of the strategy will be to reduce rural poverty and food insecurity through providing a more stable agricultural policy.


The WRD and BWRDs are financed by the state budget through MAWR&PI. The RWRDs are financed from the state budget and water users funds received for water delivery services. Agreements have been concluded between the RWRDs and each water user in the rayon concerning water delivery services. Bills for payment are delivered monthly. The government authorizes the text of the contract. Payment rates for water delivery are established by Parliament. Approximately 50 percent of actual expenditure for O&M is covered by the state budget and 50 percent by payment for water delivery service.

Water use is chargeable according to the ‘Water Act’ currently in force in Kyrgyzstan. The payment is collected from all water users irrespective of the department they belong, their citizenship, kinds and patterns of ownership, except for cases established by special legislation of Kyrgyzstan (public health services, recreation, sports, rest, etc.). The order, conditions and amount paid for use of water bodies and water resources vary for different users and are determined by specific legislation. However, these amounts are still largely inadequate to cover actual O&M needs.

In 1997, the annual O&M cost of full cost recovery was an estimated US$350/ha, but the actual operational costs did not exceed US$60/ha in the four years prior to 1997. In the past, farmers were not charged for water, although the land tax was two or three times higher on irrigated land than on non-irrigated land of similar quality. In 1992–1993, a water fee was imposed on the kolkhoz and sovkhoz.

In 1995, MAWR&PI proposed a water charge equivalent to US$0.6/1 000 m3, to cover O&M costs. Parliament approved the equivalent of US$0.1/1 000 m3, this amount was divided by three for supplementary irrigation during autumn and winter. In 1995, only 29 percent of the charges due were collected.

Policies and legislation

In 2005, the Water Code was based on the concept of integrated water resources management (IWRM). The Code covers the fundamental principles of recognition of the economic value of water resources, consolidation of controlling functions over water resources within the framework of a newly established specific state authority, organization of water resources management based on hydrographic (basin) and the participation of water users in planning and management. The Water Code promotes transparent legal relations between state authorities for the management of irrigation infrastructure and the newly established and growing group of cooperative users of irrigation water (UNDP, 2010).


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