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Water management, policies and legislation related to water use in agriculture
Water resources management in Turkmenistan is carried out by both national organizations and departments, and international organizations, such as the Amu Darya River Basin Authority (BVO), IFAS and the ICWC of Central Asia. The Cabinet Ministers of Turkmenistan have complete responsibility for water resources and maintenance of reliable water supply for both the agriculture, municipal and industrial sectors. The following state departments and organizations are engaged in management of water resources:
- Ministry of Water Resources (MWR): construction and operation of irrigation and drainage systems, delivery of water to water users at primary off-takes (down to inter-farm level);
- local administrations at village level (hakimliks, archyns): address water management issues within the limits of their territory (on-farm irrigation and drainage networks);
- land users (farmers, tenants and others): independently decide issues of operation of intra-contour irrigation and drainage network within the limits of their land areas;
- Ministry of Nature Protection: responsible for protection of water from pollution and exhaustion;
- State Corporation (SC) ‘Turkmengeologiya’: responsible for assessment, control of use and protection from pollution and exhaustion of groundwater aquifers;
- Ministry of Construction and Building Materials: responsible for licensing, technical supervision and control of activities on water supply and drainage of settlements.
During the Soviet era, water management was the responsibility of state institutions.
All inter-farm canals are managed by authorized state agencies. MWR manages water resources related to water infrastructure through specialized organizations that administer territories within the state. Production associations of velayats are responsible for the operation, repair-restoration, construction and auxiliary subdivisions of etraps (districts).
Farm unions manage all on-farm canals, even when the irrigated land is rented or privately owned by individual farmers. Water resources management at on-farm level, i.e. distribution of water between final water users (farmers, tenants and brigades), repair-restoration and construction works on structures, clearing of channels, drains and collectors, etc. is the responsibility of the local authorities (hakimliks, archyns). The mirap (irrigator) position was introduced for decisions on these matters at the level of the municipal authorities.
Training of personnel for agriculture and water management is carried out by the Turkmen State Agricultural University, named after S.A. Niyazov, including its hydro-improvement faculty. Since 2001, the Central Asian region has been working with the Training Centre at Sepang International Circuit (SIC) of the ICWC to improve the professional skills of those working in water management.
The state is responsible for all expenses related to capital investment in irrigated agriculture, such as the development of land, construction of main structures and water infrastructure. Except for the on-farm irrigation system, the costs of operating water infrastructure are met by the state budget. Water for irrigation is supplied without charge. The so-called ‘private charges’ for the O&M of irrigation systems is an accepted practice, and comprises a deduction of 3 percent from the total of crops produced by the tenants. A calculation shows that over the past years these charges have amounted to US$10–18 million.
Article 58 of the Water Code states: “Water management agencies provide technical assistance to farmers’ unions and other legal entities at the expense of the latter in operation of on-farm irrigation and drainage systems and hydro-technical structures...”. The following principles of water consumption and use regulation in Turkmenistan are legally bound (GoT, 2004b):
- water for drinking and household use is provided to the population without charge; water supply systems construction, renovation and maintenance costs are covered by municipal and state budgets;
- water for industrial use is supplied against payment according to set tariffs;
- enterprises are fined for exceeding water intake limits and discharging unprocessed industrial liquid wastes;
- water for irrigation is supplied free within set limits; costs of water management agencies for maintenance of on-farm systems are covered by the 3 percent charges raised from the total cost of agricultural crops;
- state budget finances construction, renovation and maintenance of water supply facilities at state, inter-basin, interregional and inter-farm levels.
In 2006, total investment in irrigation and drainage was US$140 million, including US$87 million state investment (MWE, 2007). About US$53 million were classified as indirect investments because they were given as credits by banks. The long-term (up to 2030) irrigation and drainage development programme, adopted in 2007, states that investment of US$730 million is planned for irrigation and US$537 million for drainage up to 2010. Planned investment for 2010–2015 is US$4 720 million, out of which US$3 643 million is investment by the state. It is expected that the investments will be increased 2016–2020 up to US$8 770 million, including US$6 875 million state investments. The amount is estimated based on average world prices during the period 2001–2006. It should be clarified, however, that fuel prices for most local construction materials are several times lower than the world average. For example, the price of petrol in Turkmenistan is less than US$0.02 per litre.
Annual investment in land-reclamation is around US$11–12 million (MWE, 2007). Annual expenditures of the state budget for operation of irrigation systems varies between US$37–49 million.
Policies and legislation
The constitution of Turkmenistan states that the Cabinet of Ministers undertake state management of economic and social development and ensure the rational use and protection of natural resources. The Water Code, issued on 27 December 1972, details the competences of the Cabinet of Ministers, the authorized state body for water use and protection, local executive power, civil societies and individuals. In particular, the Cabinet of Ministers defines water consumption limits for each velayat and etrap, including distribution of main water sources to the economic sectors. According to the Water Code, water is owned solely by the state, whereas both legal entities and individuals can own water structures.
In February 2007 a national development programme for the water economy of Turkmenistan up to 2030 was approved by all ministries and agencies involved (MWE, 2007). Main development priorities are to:
- reduce the water discharge rate per hectare by decreasing filtration losses and by improving watering technology (including application of drip irrigation);
- increase the capacity of water reservoirs for long-term regulation of water flows and accumulating of silt;
- construct the trans-Turkmen collector for accumulating all drainage waters from all oases into one reservoir.
The programme takes into account population growth, increase of industrial and agricultural production as well as environmental issues and international commitments of Turkmenistan.
The national programme for economic, political and cultural development of Turkmenistan up to 2020 foresees an increase in the number of private agricultural producers and their support through the implementation of infrastructure projects for development of territories paid for our of the state budget (GoT, 2002). Currently state producers use about 90 percent of irrigated land, up to 2020 it is planned that this irrigated land will be transferred to the private sector based on new legislation. Joint-stock enterprises, farm unions and cooperatives will become the organizational forms for private land use.
Legislation reforms in the water sector have overlapped with the adoption of the Land Code, which for the first time legally sets out the right for private ownership of land. In 2007 drafts of laws on ‘farm’ and ‘farm unions’ were published in the newspaper, whereby the role of farmers in decision-making process is further increased, with the objective of decentralization of land resources management (GoT, 2007a and 2007b).