Disaster risk reduction and integrated watershed management in Muminabad, Tajikistan

Project completed
A group of men standing next to the recently built outlet of a drainage canal.
Reinforced outlet of a drainage canal built with the participation of local farmers. © IWSM Project. Caritas. Tajikistan. © IWSM Project. Caritas. Tajikistan.

In Muminabad District in Tajikistan, Switzerland is reducing the risk of natural disasters and promoting the integrated management of the Obishur and Chukurak watersheds. Sustainable agriculture and livestock production carried out by local people with the support of the local authorities creates the necessary conditions for integrated watershed management.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Climate change and environment
Disaster risk reduction DRR
Environmental policy
01.07.2014 - 08.12.2016
CHF 1'199'525

Overexploitation of land exacerbates poverty and increases the risk of disasters

Poverty, population pressure and unsustainable agriculture and forestry practices increase the frequency of hazardous natural events. Cropland has been degraded as a result of years of overexploitation to produce maximum yields, and pastureland has been overgrazed to the point where it can no longer sustain livestock.

Tajik families often find themselves in a vicious circle of having to eke out the highest possible yield from small plots of land to survive. The constant shortage of electricity forces people to clear forests for firewood and to rely on cow dug as an alternative source of energy instead of putting it to better use as a fertilizer. Overexploited soils absorb less water, leading to erosion, landslides and mudslides and consequently the loss of fertile land.

Sustainable land management as a way out of poverty

The goal is to reduce the risk of natural disasters over the long-term and to realise the integrated management of the Obishur and Chukurak watersheds. Alongside preventive measures such as levees and drainage canals, this goal is to be achieved through sustainable land management. This includes crop and pasture rotation, reforestation, the use of energy-efficient cooking and heating stoves and water heaters, and the establishment of committees to coordinate livestock grazing to protect pastureland.

The second phase of the project, which is currently under way, has the following objectives:

  • Equipped with the know-how required for the sustainable management of natural resources, village communities and local authorities take an active part in the administration of the region;
  • Significant parts of the middle and upper zones of the watersheds are under improved management, i.e. sustainable land management and energy efficiency practices are applied successfully;
  • Natural resources (pastureland, agricultural land and forest) are not only being maintained but steadily improved in both watershed areas.

Project target groups

The project benefits 2,040 households comprising 15,453 persons in 19 villages.  Special consideration is given to poor families, households headed by women, and widows. Some 81,000 people – the entire population of Muminabad – are already benefiting from the long-term effects of the project: there is a lower risk of flooding, local people are spending less money on firewood, and they have a higher income from agriculture and livestock production.

Participation by the local population and authorities is the key to the success of the project.

The strategy was drawn up during the first phase of the project and translated into "Watershed Action Plans" (WAP). The participation of the local population and the authorities is crucial for the success of the project. The second phase of the project therefore aims to empower local actors to take an active part in the management of the watersheds. Specifically, the following measures are being implemented:

  • The watersheds are managed by civil society committees (with a female membership of at least 30%) set up during the first phase of the project.
  • The existing "Watershed Action Plans" (WAP) are being revised and updated.
  • 70% of the watershed's middle and upper zones are under improved management.
  • 19 micro projects are applying sustainable land management practices.
  • To allow the land to recover, more than 2,000 hectares have been designated as protected areas.
  • Families that have practised sustainable land management have seen their income grow by about 10%.
  • Approximately 20% less wood is being burned thanks to the use of energy-efficient technologies.