DUSHANBE, April 19, 2023 – The Strengthening Water and Irrigation Management (SWIM) Project, funded by the World Bank and EU, has officially launched in Tajikistan. The project aims to enhance the country's water and irrigation infrastructure and management systems, ensuring sustainable and efficient use of resources in the agriculture sector.
To kick off the project's activities, a series of events were organized at both the national and regional levels. On April 12, the Project Steering Committee, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Sulaimon Ziyozoda, held its first meeting. This was followed by a two-day workshop in the Khatlon region, which took place on April 18-19.
"We are excited to see the Government launch the SWIM Project in Tajikistan, which will improve water and irrigation management in the country," said William Young, World Bank Lead Water Resources Management Specialist. "This project will accelerate national water reforms, strengthen capacity for water planning, improve irrigation management, including through climate resilience and gender inclusion, and contribute to improved rural livelihoods and food security. This, in turn, will help reduce poverty and promote sustainable development."
Approved in 2022, the SWIM project is funded by a $30 million IDA grant and a EUR 16.19 million grant from the European Union. It responds to a government request to support implementation of the water sector reforms at the national level in order to improve both water resources policy and planning and irrigation management, particularly in the Vakhsh basin, which is the heartland of irrigation in Tajikistan. Vakhsh is a large basin with multiple and complex water sector challenges.
The project intends to support the Government in preparation of the national irrigation strategy, an important strategic document that will steer the future development and financial sustainability of the sector. The project will also support the Government in adopting new management approach that will help improve service delivery.
In addition to supporting the ongoing reform process nationally and in the selected river basins, the project will modernize the national irrigation infrastructure and improve the resilience of smaller irrigation systems that are frequently affected by floods and mudflows. The implementation of the Vakhsh river basin plan will ensure the sustainable use of water resources in the region and the protection of downstream ecosystems. Most of the investments will target critical infrastructure within Vakhsh Main Canal and Shurobod Canal irrigation systems.
Investments in irrigation and water management infrastructure will include rehabilitating and modernizing canals, pump stations, and water distribution and measurement systems. The project activities will boost the capacity of farmers and Water User Associations (WUAs) to improve on-farm irrigation management, including through training in water-saving technologies and crop management. The WUAs will benefit from the incentives program aimed at supporting improved management and maintenance of on-farm irrigation. Some 45 WUAs across target irrigation schemes in Vakhsh river basin will receive support in promoting climate-smart irrigation practices and resource utilization. The new approaches will help address the climate change impacts of increasing droughts, high temperatures, and extreme heat on crop production.
The World Bank is currently financing 26 projects in Tajikistan, totaling $1.62 billion. Since 1996, the World Bank has provided over $2.82 billion in IDA grants, highly concessional credits, and trust funds for Tajikistan. The World Bank is committed to continuing its support as the country strives to improve lives and meet the aspirations of its young and growing population.