Home > Countries > Europe and Central Asia > Uzbekistan > News and Events > The Drainage Project Is Signed on 5 February 2004

Today, the Government of Uzbekistan and the World Bank signed a US$74.55 million Drainage, Irrigation and Wetlands Improvement Project. The Project is aimed at increasing productivity of irrigated agriculture, employment and incomes in Karakalpakstan, improving water quality of the Amu Darya river by safe disposal of drainage effluent, and enhancing the quality of wetlands in the Amu Darya delta. It will also develop institutions for improving water management, operation and maintenance of irrigation
and drainage systems, and for promoting sustainable irrigated agriculture through participatory irrigation management.

Intensive development of new irrigated areas in 1960-80-es was accompanied by land salinization, water logging, land degradation and increases in the discharge of highly mineralized drainage water into the Amu Darya river through a system of collector drains. These led to increased mineralization and pollution of the river, as well as negative impacts on the health of the population and on agricultural production.

"By improving drainage, the Project would be the first meaningful intervention in the Aral Sea Basin to break a vicious cycle of high water applications, waterlogging and secondary soil salinization, hence requiring again high water applications for leaching the next season. The Project would make a start in addressing this problem by substantially improving drainage conditions and significantly improving water use efficiency in irrigation sector", said Masood Ahmad, head of the World Bank team designing the Project

Implementation of the Project will solve a number of vital issues for Uzbekistan:
- Drainage water waste from the Beruni collector will no longer be discharged into the Amu Darya river with direct health benefits for the population in the northern regions of Karakalpakstan where the Amu Darya is still the main source of drinking water;
- the quality of 100, 000 ha of land in three southern districts will improve significantly, crop yields will increase while the amount of irrigation water use per ha will decline;
- drainage water will be collected and discharged through a system making use of the northward downward sloping terrain, allowing the substitution of electric pumps with natural gravity, thereby generating significant electric power and cost savings;
- the Badai-Tugai nature reserve will cease receiving salinated water for irrigation purposes with significant benefits for the preservation of the vegetation in this unique environment.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources takes the responsibility for timely implementation of the project.


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