The GEF Small Grants Programme

in Uzbekistan

Irrigation: how to save water and energy?

How much water is lost during irrigation, just going under the ground without reaching farmers? How much water is taken from nature for this? How much energy is consumed for field irrigation and how much of this energy is wasted in vain? These questions concern our joint project with Urgench University.

Water is the most valuable product for all the residents of Uzbekistan given by the nature. Unfortunately, people don’t value this product because they receive it free of charge. All people suppose that they value it, however, actually Aral Sea dried up because the water was used and is being used irrationally. As it was estimated by the experts, in modern irrigation systems not less than 50% of the water is lost infiltrating into the soil and does not reach the final user – a farmer. Water that could be used for manufacturing of food is being lost. Meanwhile the number of people is increasing. They all need food. They develop new territories but there is no water for agriculture production in this land. The water is unavailable because of the following:

its natural availability becomes less and less for us because of the deglaciation and irregular precipitations as result of climate change; and

consumption of water increases in neighboring countries and we get less and less amount of water.

The deficit of water is especially noticeable in the downstream regions, like Khorezm and Karakalpakstan. Nevertheless, even in these regions the rate of efficiency of the water consumption is very low. Thus, in Khorezm for irrigation of 1 hectar of land 19,472 m3 of water is spent (1995-2000). For comparison, in many countries with the similar arid conditions the water is spent 2-3 times less and the harvest is even better than ours.

What is the core of the problem?

All the channels are unlined, without any isolation. More than a half of the water is just going into the ground because of their poor technical state, as well as of the outdated watering technique and troubles of irrigation and the rest is used ineffectively, and the remainder is used very inefficiently - when the water is available, everyone tries to take water for irrigation as much as possible. All this irrigation water is being lost for nothing, it replenishes the ground water, being a cause of secondary salinity.

But that's not all. In order to water the fields, the water is mainly pumped from the channels, the pumps being also pretty outdated and inefficient.

Filling of the page is being continued.

For those who are interested, please read the project document. Download