In Azerbaijan: Empowering Water Users
Water Users Association Development Support Project
August 14, 2013
59-year-old Rafik Mammadov says his fruit orchard in the region of Khahmaz, Azerbaijan, lay fallow just a few years ago because there was no organized system of irrigation and every farmer was on his or her own. But that has changed.
“After the establishment of the association, I have water and I am irrigating my orchards,” he says, from among this orchard’s cherry, apricot, and apple trees.
The association Mammadov speaks of is part of a World Bank-supported water development project which is upgrading Azerbaijan’s farming irrigation systems, vital to the lives of an estimated 40 percent of the country’s more than 9 million people.
The rehabilitated and more efficient irrigation canals which the government project provides around the country are being handed over to local farming communities.
After the establishment of the water users association, I have water and I am irrigating my orchards.
And those communities are now in charge of water distribution, through a system of associations made up of the farmers themselves.
“There used to be only dirt canals, and we lost water and could not get it in a timely manner. But with the concrete canal system, we irrigate in a more efficient way,” says Bakhtiyar Novruzov, who was elected in his community to open and shut more efficient, concrete canals which were built through the project. He also is in charge of keeping tabs on how many cubic meters of water each farm is using.
And Tamila Lachinova was elected by her community to supervise the water distribution and deal with any other related issues her fellow farmers might have, including the required seasonal payments.
“I am in charge of meeting the people in the farms and asking about their complaints about the water,” says Lachinova.
Tens of thousands of Azerbaijani farmers are benefitting from the water project, by way of more efficient and organized irrigation systems, and the resulting rise in agricultural productivity.
There used to be only dirt canals, and we lost water and could not get it in a timely manner. But with the concrete canal system, we irrigate in a more efficient way.
Farmer Yasar Pashaliev says he’s recently relocated to new farmland in the village of Hasan Gala, where the water project enables him to grow more tomatoes, cabbage, and peppers.
“There were no concrete canals before, but after they built them, we moved here and cultivate here, and we get very good harvests,” says Pashaliev.
The 22-year-old father of two says he’s doubled his harvest through the water project so far, and doubled the amount he is earning at market!
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