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


Interdepartmental coordination of water resources management is carried out by the government. Water management involves many government organizations: Ministry of Land Reclamation and Water Resources (MLRWR), Ministry of Energy and Industry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Economical Development and Trade, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, State Unitary Organization on Water Supply, State Inspectorate on Mining and Technical Supervision, State Committee on Environmental Protection, State Committee on Land Management and Geodesy, National Geological Agency, Committee on Emergency Situation and Civil Protection.

Institutionally, water management follows a hierarchy: state, province, district, farm or water user association (WUA). The first three levels fall under the MLRWR, which is responsible for the planning and management of water resources for agriculture, water distribution and delivery to the farm inlet, assistance to the water users for implementation of advanced technology and control of water use and water quality. The special reclamation services at provincial level are the responsibility of the MLRWR, which monitors irrigated land (groundwater level, drainage discharge, soil salinity) and plans maintenance and improvement of soil conditions, including leaching, repair and cleaning of collectors and drainage network and rehabilitation. O&M, rehabilitation and modernization and construction of new irrigation schemes, inter-farm level irrigation and drainage networks have been implemented by the Ministry and its subdivisions in viloyats (provinces).

MLRWR is a member of the ICWC of Central Asia countries.

The Ministry of Agriculture is in charge of agricultural research and extension, as well as farm-level agricultural and land reclamation development, and operation and maintenance of the irrigation network.

The State Unitary Enterprise Khojagii Manziliu Kommunali is responsible for domestic water supply and the treatment of wastewater. The Committee on Nature Protection is responsible for the protection of water resources.

Water management

WUAs in Tajikistan are a new initiative to manage water structures on irrigated areas belonging to the former kolkhoz (collective farms) and sovkhoz (state [Soviet] farms). In 1994, there were 297 000 households on 262 kolkhoz, occupying 48.4 percent of the cultivated area, and 199 700 households on 393 sovkhoz, occupying 44.3 percent of the cultivated area. Private plots and land leased to state-farm employees (about 33 000 households) totaled about 7.3 percent of the cultivated area. During land reform (1996–2000) kolkhoz and sovkhoz were privatized and divided into a number of small, private (dehkan) farms. There are WUAs on irrigation schemes of 1–500 ha each. Currently, WUAs cover almost 35 percent of the irrigated area, but they remain weak. District-level state water management organizations supply water to WUAs gates on a contract basis and these implement on-farm water management. In some areas, several WUAs have established a federation of WUAs. Because agriculture is inefficient and low incomes, often farmers are unable to pay water fees to the state water management organizations.

The MLRWR established the Support Unit to assist WUAs. A number of international and local NGOs conduct training and provide technical assistance to increase the capacity of the WUAs.


A water fee system has been in place since 1996 for the supply of irrigation water services from state water management organizations. The current financial mechanism has shortcomings and will be settled during upcoming irrigation reform.

MLRWR accords actual expenditures of O&M, including electricity price, and estimates the water fee, which is provided to the Ministry of Economy Development and Trade for its approval. The water fee is rated 2–6 times less than required to ensure adequate O&M of the irrigation and drainage systems, especially for pump irrigation. Some of these lift irrigation systems are not economically viable under current energy costs and economic conditions. These systems, built in the Soviet period without any economic considerations, pump in what is called a cascade system consisting of 4, 5 and up to 6 stages of pumping. The current water fee for gravity irrigation is US$4.13/1 000 m3 and US$6.58/1 000 m3 for pump irrigation (including 20 percent VAT). The recent increase in the price of electricity will influence changes to the water fee for irrigation services.

The government annually subsidises construction of irrigation infrastructure on 700–1 000 ha.

Since 2000, rehabilitation of irrigation and drainage facilities, pump stations and pressure pipes has cost more than US$200 million, funded mainly by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank investments and grants.

Policies and legislation

The current legal basis for water management is the ‘Water Code of Tajikistan’, adopted in 2000. The main target of water legislation is to ensure water supply to users. A previous ‘Water Code of Tajikistan’ was signed in 1993.

The WUAs Law was adopted in 2007, which provided a legal basis for the establishment and development of WUAs to improve on-farm water management within the bounds of privatized former kolkhoz and sovkhoz.

There are almost 50 laws linked to water management.


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       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
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