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Cooperative Water Distribution Initiative Fosters Peace Along Isfara River

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan

The United Nations’ Cross-border Cooperation for Sustainable Pease and Development programme is yielding successful results in modernising water management along the Isfara River running between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

The project, involving six pilot cross-border communities, uses modern technology and software to monitor what crops are grown and how much and where water is distributed. In addition to a more equal distribution of water, the programme is intended to reduce the risk of cross-border violence. (UN Tajikstan)

The programme is supported by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF, UN Women, and the World Food Programme (WFP) with support from the the UN Peacebuilding Fund.

“Now I can say the water distribution in our area is transparent,” according to Shavkat Kayumov, head of the Chorkuh Water Users Association of Isfara district. ”Luckily, due to modern technologies and software, everyone knows what crop is grown and how much land everyone has, and how much water is needed for irrigating the crops on our lands. There is no water theft.”

To ensure fair water distribution among the farmers, water-measuring devices equipped with data transmitters have been installed in the canal of the Chorkuh Association.

Water distribution can be monitored along a number of water points and water discharge is calculated on a transparent basis.

The water users associations on both sides of the border effectively manage irrigation water systems between Tajik farms, collect payments for the water supply, and settle disputes related to the distribution and use of water. To facilitate coordination among the water users associations, the project established the Kyrgyz Research Irrigation Institute which is a databank for irrigation water use planning.

The developed technology does not require expensive maintenance and running costs. The equipment ensures prompt, accurate, and transparent water distribution even in smaller canals. Devices simultaneously deliver digital information about the amount of water received to the Kyrgyz and Tajik associations.

The project also developed an innovative digital water distribution plan, linked to the water-measuring equipment, that also helps monitor the plan’s implementation. It is believed that this system distributes irrigation water fairly to all local farmers.

In addition, the programme has built mutual trust among the cross-border communities and opened up opportunities for women to participate in the Conflict Resolution Commission that is responsible for dispute resolution between members of the associations and other water users.

Introduction of new technologies, innovative models, and partnerships, in addition to the exchange of knowledge and skills, are viewed to be valuable elements of the South-South Cooperation, which addresses global issues and promotes changes in developing countries. It has been proven efficient and effective in agricultural development, climate change, sustainable management of natural resources, strengthening infrastructures, and many more issues around the world

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