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Prospects for agricultural water management
The objective of water sector reforms is to create an efficiently planned, developed and managed water sector based on sound policies, joint analysis and management of groundwater and surface water. The different water using sectors are balanced, using the basin as the management area, to secure economic benefit to Tajikistan, without compromising ecological integrity. This water sector reform has adopted the guiding principle of integrated water resources management (IWRM).
District-level state water management units will be included in Basin Water Management Organizations (BWMO). The BWMOs will transfer all water management responsibility in stages to WUAs for secondary and tertiary canals . In some cases WUAs will manage water at the primary canal level. Establishing the new tandem management structure BWMO+WUA is fundamental to the introduction of IWRM in Tajikistan. The government expects to create 11 BWMOs: Syr Darya, Istarafshan, Zeravshan, Gissar (Hisor), Rasht, Yavan, Dangara, Kulob, Lower Kofarnihon, Vakhsh and Badakhshan.
Establishment of WUAs has started at the secondary and tertiary canal level, the government aims to cover all irrigated areas with WUAs. The relationship between state BWMOs and non-government WUAs will be based on water supply contracts. The main goal of government irrigation reform is to reduce state budget expenditures for O&M for irrigation and drainage systems. Although the government subsidizes only 10ľ15 percent of requested expenditures for O&M, efforts are directed to the establishment of self-funding water resources management systems. It seems difficult, however, to cover the highest cost systems (highest lifts) of water supply services. The drought mitigation strategy includes introducing water-saving measures in the summer and limitation of water intake from sources for all economy sectors during drought years. The aim of the ICWC is to reduce the regions water intake quotes by 10ľ25 percent.
The deteriorating condition of irrigation and drainage, water supply and sanitation infrastructure has forced the government to pursue investment from all accessible sources. State investment and water fees are insufficient to rehabilitate infrastructure.
Several key issues must be addressed for the effective implementation of water sector reforms. These include the formulation of an investment and realistic finance plan for the implementation of water sector reform; application of water related reform laws; inventory of irrigation systems and prioritization of the most viable for modernization/rehabilitation; support to WUAs for the successful O&M of irrigation and drainage systems with the application of a fair and realistic tariff system; and support to alternative high cost systems (high lift systems) to sustain livelihoods in upland areas.
With the participation of international organizations and experts, the government aims to reform the water sector and transfer the centrally planned economy to a real market economy. This will change cropping patterns in irrigated areas. As a result, farmers will become interested in adopting water-saving irrigation technologies for economic reasons and, therefore, contribute to the preservation of the environment.