14th International Drainage Workshop

On the topic: Modernization of irrigation and drainage systems for adaptation to climate change and sustainable development, in Dushanbe, Republic of Tajikistan.

1.   Context

  1. Tajikistan is mountainous and land-locked agro-industrial country with a fast-growing population in 2020 of 9.5 million. It is well endowed with water resources, with an annual water availability of 7,649 m3/capita/year. It is drained by two major trans-boundary rivers, the Amu Darya in the south and the Syr Darya in the north.
  2. Hydropower provides almost all (99%) of Tajikistan’s electricity, and 90% of that comes from eight hydropower dams on the Vakhsh River, which is a major tributary of the Amu Darya.
  3. Despite its abundant water resources, because of the paucity of arable land and the deterioration of its irrigation and drainage systems, Tajikistan has the lowest ratio of irrigated land to population in Central Asia. Nevertheless, agriculture accounts for 20% of the national GDP and 30% of exports. About 51% of the population is engaged in agriculture, and 69% of female employment is in the agricultural sector.
  4. The main crops grown are cotton and wheat. About 14% of cultivated area is under vegetables, potato, and cucurbits, and there is considerable potential for expansion in the production of vegetables and fruits.
  5. Tajikistan is highly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Future changes in snowfall, rainfall, and air temperature, with melting of glaciers, is impacting flow in rivers that supply irrigation, hydropower generation, and water supply in Tajikistan and in downstream riparian countries.
  6. At independence in 1991, about 752,000 ha of agricultural land was under productive irrigation and drainage, with nearly three-quarters of that area supplied by pumping water to terraces high above the rivers. Most of the schemes were constructed in the 1950-60s.
  7. Funding for operation and maintenance (O&M) dropped precipitously, from US$ 88/ ha in 1990 to just US$ 14/ ha just three years later, and deterioration of system assets commenced. By 2014, by one recent estimate, there were only around 515,000 ha irrigated, of which just one-third was served by lift irrigation. Most systems are currently in poor condition, and command areas exhibit land degradation, erosion, and salinity.   
  8. Investment in the land reclamation and irrigation and drainage sector is vital to support achievement of the strategic goals defined in the National Development Strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan for the period up to 2030, including food security and employment in rural regions of the country.
  9. A high level of irrigation and drainage service contributes to the diversification and intensification of crop production, and cultivation of high-yielding and high-value crops. The challenge is how to achieve this and modernize irrigation and drainage systems with climate adaptation, gender, and sustainable O&M as main considerations, under severe funding constraints.
  10. Many other countries face this or similar challenges and have to make difficult decisions. The proposed workshop will allow participants to share and learn from each other experiences.

2.   Tajikistan and ICID

  1. The Government of the Republic of Tajikistan (GRT) in 2014 resumed its membership of the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID), and the National Commission on Irrigation and drainage (NCID) was established on 29 October 2015 as per Decree No. 620. The Agency for Land Reclamation and Irrigation (ALRI) was entrusted with the functions of ensuring the participation of the Republic of Tajikistan in the further work of the ICID.
  2. ICID, established in 1950, is a leading scientific, technical, international non-profit, knowledge-sharing, professional organization. The professional network consists of experts from around the world in the fields of irrigation, drainage, flood control, and agricultural water management. The main mission is to promote “sustainable water management in agriculture” to achieve a “world free of poverty and hunger through sustainable rural development”.
  3. Within ICID there are several working groups. One of these, the Sustainable Drainage Working Group (WG-SDRG), now the Land Drainage Working Group (WG-LDRG), was established with a mandate to promote sustainable drainage as part of integrated water resources management. Its functions include: (i) to exchange information, knowledge and experience among ICID members in order to keep abreast of new developments, methods and approaches for sustainable drainage, (ii) to prepare and submit reports and / or case studies, (iii) together with NCID of Tajikistan to organize the 14th international drainage workshop to promote sustainable approaches to drainage and related projects through a balanced integration of environmental, economic and social and cultural aspects.

3.   14th International Drainage Workshop, May – June 2024

  1. Tajikistan Initiatives. The Republic of Tajikistan is the initiator of several global water initiatives supported by the UN General Assembly, including: (i) the announcement of 2003 as the year of fresh water, (ii) the proclamation of 2005-2015 as the International Decade for Action “Water for Life”, (iii) the declaration of 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation, and (iv) the declaration of 2018 – 2028 as the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”.
  2. Workshop Theme. Within the framework of the “Water for Sustainable Development” 2018 – 2028, the 14th International Drainage Workshop has a more holistic range than in the past and has adopted the theme: modernization of irrigation and drainage systems with adaptation for climate change and for sustainable development.
  3. Workshop Outputs. The workshop will focus the attention of the world community to the problems associated with the state of irrigation and drainage systems, and the need for modernization in the face of climate change and food production needs. It will consider opportunities offered by technology advancements, gender issues and the role of women, and the need to attract investment to the sector. The expected outputs of the workshop are:
  4. Agencies and individuals gain better knowledge of irrigation and drainage modernization in its concept, challenges, opportunities, approach, and benefits.
  5. Recommendations on priority actions for the irrigation and drainage modernization agenda.
  6. Networking among agencies, private sector, and development partners who work together towards irrigation and drainage modernization.
  7. Venue and Date. The 14th International Drainage Workshop will be held over three full days from May 30 to June 1, 2024 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Ismoili Somoni Avenue 26/1, Dushanbe. It will comprise of two days of thematic sessions with training side events, followed by a third day for visits.[1] A joint extended meeting of the NCID of Tajikistan with the participation ICID representatives will be held in Day 2.
  8. Participants. About 200 participants are expected, both from the international community (about 100) and nationally (about 100), including representatives of ministries and departments, scientific and industry organizations, students of higher educational institutions specializing in the field of water resources, land reclamation, drainage and irrigation, climate change, agriculture, urbanization of cities and regions, as well as representatives of international and non-governmental organizations.       

4.   Plenary and Thematic Sessions and Training Events

4.1  Opening Session
  1. The opening session will include speeches by representatives of international financial institutions/ development partners, ICID and other international organizations that support the development of agriculture and water management, adaptation to climate change, including disaster risk reduction, capacity building, the “water-energy-food” interaction, empower young professionals and gender issues in agriculture and water management at the national and regional levels.
4.2  Thematic Sessions
  • Within the overall theme of the workshop, for “Modernization of Irrigation and Drainage Systems with Adaptation for Climate Change and for Sustainable Development” papers will be invited within the following three broad themes:
  • TS-1.: Modernization of irrigation and drainage systems to adapt to climate change: current state of management, science, technology, and successful international, regional, national practices.
  • TS-2.: Harmonizing Sustainability: Empowering Young Professionals and Gender Inclusivity in Integrated Water Resources Management”.
  • TS-3.: Nexus Approach: Strengthening the “water-energy-food” interactions.
  • The content of the Thematic Sessions (TS) in Day 1 and Day 2 of the Workshop will depend on the papers selected for presentation, with case studies expected to be particularly of interest.
  • Under Theme 1, thematic sessions may include any or all of the following: (i) adaptation of sectoral reforms, programs and strategies to climate change, (ii) advancements in irrigation and drainage technologies, such as precision agriculture, automated irrigation systems, data-driven solutions in irrigation and drainage management, and smart water management tools, to enhance water efficiency and adapt to changing climate conditions, (iii) climate-resilient infrastructure, (iv) the importance of cooperation and knowledge sharing in addressing challenges related to irrigation, drainage, and climate adaptation, and (v) successful case studies and innovative approaches from around the world that have effectively adapted irrigation and drainage systems to cope with the impacts of climate change.
  • Under Theme 2, thematic sessions may include any, or all, of the following: (i) the role of young professionals in shaping sustainable irrigation and drainage practices and initiatives, mentorship programs, and success stories that empower the next generation of leaders in this field, (ii) gender equity in irrigation and drainage management, and (iii) innovative approaches for inclusive sustainability: innovative projects, research, and policies that promote both youth engagement and gender inclusivity in sustainable irrigation and drainage management, and so on.
  • Under Theme 3 Nexus Approach: Strengthening the “water-energy-food”, interactions may include following: (i) water-energy-food security nexus, (ii) climate change adaptation and the nexus approach, (iii) the role of government policies, regulations, and international organizations in promoting the nexus approach, and (iv) real-world examples and case studies that demonstrate the successful implementation of the nexus approach.
4.3  Training Event Topics*
  • Catering particularly for younger professionals, training side events will be arranged on pertinent topics, for example as follows:
  • Т-1. Irrigation and drainage design criteria for arid and humid zones under climate change and extreme events.
  • T-2. Design of pipe systems for climate adaptive modernization of irrigation and drainage systems.
  • Т-3. Efficient use of drainage to prevent rising groundwater levels, erosion of irrigated lands and management of mudflows and floods.
  • Т-4. Gender and water – the role of women in water and agriculture development.

* If certain development partners express their support for conducting training programs, we will duly include training session in the agenda for further exploration and planning.

4.4  Meeting of the TajNCID-ICID
  • Within the context of the upcoming international workshop, a joint meeting of the TajNCID-ICID is scheduled to take place. During this meeting, TajNCID will deliver a comprehensive presentation on its activities and the achieved results to date. Furthermore, representatives from other National Commissions will also be in attendance, presenting their respective experiences and insights on the topics of irrigation and drainage development and sustainable management. The objective of these presentations is to foster knowledge sharing and facilitate the exchange of best practices. One of the key outcomes of this meeting will be to engage in discussions regarding potential future collaborations and partnerships in the field of irrigation and drainage.

5.   Excursions and Tours

  • On Day-3, tours will be arranged for international participants, and are likely to include the following:
  • Dushanbe sights tour including a visit to the National Museum of Tajikistan.
  • Visit to Hissar zone and irrigated agriculture/ schemes, including a visit to Hissar fort.
  • Visit to the Yovon Valley and irrigation scheme currently being modernized.

[1] Scope of training events to be confirmed.