Participatory Integrated Watershed Management in Upland Areas of Tajikistan

Project symbolTCP/TAJ/2903
Participating countries: Tajikistan
Project duration: 01 Sep 2003 - 31 Aug 2005
Donor: FAO

Tajikistan is a mountainous country, with 93 percent of its territory located in mountains, almost half of it at more than 3 000 m above sea level. The farming system in the uplands consists of rainfed agricultural, including cereals, and pastures. Forests and bushes are limited to the highest parts of the mountain catchments.

Over the last decade, most of the uplands have become marginal lands owing to high pressure from grazing, deforestation and inappropriate agricultural practices. Recent statistics show that about 98 percent of the upland is affected by severe erosion and overall degradation. Watershed degradation not only has negative effects on upland areas, but also leads to severe hydrological imbalance in nearby downstream areas.

Photo © Thomas Hofer/ FAOIn recent years, and with support from many partners, the Government of Tajikistan has undertaken several initiatives related to the sustainable management of upland resources. Based on these experiences, Tajikistan has realized that an integrated approach with people’s participation is essential to achieving sustainable management of upland resources, controlling watershed degradation and improving the livelihoods of upland inhabitants. However, these concepts are new for most of the concerned government ministries and institutions. The Republic of Tajikistan therefore requested FAO’s assistance in addressing these problems, through its TCP.

The project, which ran from 2003 to 2005, provided assistance in establishing the prerequisites for rehabilitating and developing the country’s upland resources. The following project results are particularly worthy of note:

  • The Bodomo sub-watershed in Faizabad district was selected for the project’s field component. Several pilot interventions and trials have been initiated in the area, such as afforestation, agroforestry and gully rehabilitation, pasture management, drip irrigation technologies, and farmers’ ponds construction of a modern greenhouse.
  • The pasture management interest group works resulted in the introduction of controlled grazing, recovering of the vegetation and a significant reduction of the degradation. The work of the water interest group led to the introduction of an irrigation calendar, which allocates irrigation water to each household on a specific date and in a specific quantity. The income generation group realized the introduction of a revolving fund and successfully implementation of small projects.
  • Staff and technicians at different levels are now aware of the seriousness of watershed degradation problems and have acquired knowledge and skills in integrated watershed management. Training sessions and study tours to India and Nepal resulted in the implementation of this knowledge in the pilot project site. The final national seminar, at which different project modules for the follow-up investment programme were discussed, was an important awareness raising opportunity.
  • Implementation of the project has promoted closer collaboration of government agencies (central, district and community levels). Four interest groups have been established in the pilot sites: income generation, water, agroforestry and horticulture, and pasture and livestock. The awareness raised and the capacity created though the project is expanding beyond the project context. A watershed management unit has been created in the Soil Science Research Institute, where staff used project experiences to develop a watershed management plan for the Toirsy River, which flows through Dangara district.
  • In the past, the general perception of Tajik authorities and donors was that Tajikistan’s resources and potential lay in the lowland cotton producing areas. The TCP has made it clear that Tajikistan is a mountain country of great diversity, with many opportunities and much potential specifically related to and located in mountains. As a result of this paradigm shift and of the project experience, the government and donors now consider watershed management an important priority for the country.

Because of the success of the TCP, the World Bank has outsourced the implementation of a component in its Community Agriculture and Watershed Management project to FAO.


last updated:  Tuesday, July 9, 2013