Tajikistan’s government plans to provide the population with clean drinking water by 2020




January 28, 2010, Rakhim Nazarov

Said Yakubzod, Minister of Land Reclamation and Water Resources, announced that according to the national strategy to improve water and sanitation in 2007-2020, all rural and urban residents will have access to clean drinking water from a centralized water supply system.

Approximately one billion US dollars is required for the implementation of the program. Twenty-five percent will be allocated from the state budget, 70 percent will be funded through foreign investments, and five percent by organizations consuming water. Currently, a few projects to repair the water supply networks in 16 cities and regions of
Tajikistan are being funded by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

According to Gul Sharipov, chief engineer of the ‘Tajikselkhozvodoprovodstroy’ department under
Tajikistan’s Ministry of Land Reclamation and Water Resources, the program has been successful in the cities and regional centers, but there has been less progress made in rural areas.

Experts said that the implementation of the program in rural areas in 2009 has been slow due to the global economic crisis.
Tajikistan does not produce pumping stations and pipes, and prices for imported materials are increasing every year. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that consumers in the villages are capable of maintaining the pipe systems and pumping stations after they are installed.

Currently, about 50 percent of rural residents have access to safe drinking water. However, only 25 percent of rural regions of the country are connected to the centralized water main. According to
Tajikistan’s State Statistics Committee, over 70 percent of the country’s seven million people live in rural areas.

Economists point out that
Tajikistan has large water resources, and conservation will guarantee clean drinking water to the population of Central Asia for the next several hundred years. Lake Sarez alone, with more than 17 billion cubic meters of water, could permanently provide clean drinking water to more than 40 million people in the region. To make effective use of this natural resource, the Tajik government wishes to create a Lake Sarez consortium with the participation of neighboring countries and international organizations.

Tajikistan’s government urges the international community to pay attention to issues of drinking water supply in Central Asia. In June, there will be a high-level international conference in Dushanbe, as part of the International ‘Water for Life’ Campaign, 2005-2015. At the meeting, Tajikistan will advocate for the international adoption of a ‘Doctrine for water use in Central Asia’. According to Said Yakubzod, the present situation requires a new doctrine, which would address conditions in the Central Asia region. Existing conventions reflect European realities, he said.

Four years ago, a water-energy interactions document was drafted to improve the management of water resources within the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) organization, which includes
Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan did not sign the document because of resistance to Uzbekistan’s proposal to consider water and electricity separately and to coordinate the construction of new hydro energy facilities. These requirements are not acceptable to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, which control almost all the water resources of the Central Asian region and which wish to secure their energy independence through the construction of new hydropower facilities.