Tajikistan is highly vulnerable to natural hazards that can cause disasters. Due to its mountainous terrain, the country frequently experiences disasters related to rainfall, such as floods and landslides, but also dry spells. At the same time, farming and firewood collection are widely practised in ecologically fragile areas, such as the upper zones of watersheds. Inadequate land management practices result in soil degradation and increased water runoff, which alters the water balance and increases the risk of disaster. Integrated Watershed Management (IWSM) uses sustainable land management (SLM) practices to manage trade-offs between immediate human needs and the protection of ecosystems in watershed areas.
An initiative of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in Tajikistan is working to integrate watershed management projects in Muminabad district, as well as the Rasht and Ferghana valleys. The initiative’s knowledge management component aims at making state-of-the-art knowledge and know-how available to project partners as well as a wider audience. The goal is to put in place a knowledge management system on IWSM to support evidence-based decisions and channel recommendations up to the policy level.
The project integrates activities at the local and national levels, and links them to the global level. So far, three workshops have brought together local stakeholders in Muminabad and Garm, and two round tables have connected partners interested in IWSM at the national level.
Inputs were provided to the Central Asian Mountain Partnership regional forum and SDC’s multi-country field–field exchange on disaster risk reduction (DRR) in 2012. The project makes use of tools and resources available from the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT), and works to develop them further in the field of watershed management. It also collaborates actively with PhD and MSc students of the University of Bern and the University of Central Asia.
First project results show that effective IWSM and DRR can be delivered through sound SLM practices that take account of the local context and incorporate local people’s knowledge about cultivation practices. Spreading SLM practices thus requires a community-based approach that enables local actors to participate in decision-making on local plans and strategies. Tajikistan’s ongoing reform of the water sector provides an opportunity to integrate aspects of knowledge management and local stakeholder participation in effective IWSM planning.
Project duration: 2013–2015