Climate Resilient Integrated Water Resources Management in the Zarafshan River Basin in Uzbekistan

In Uzbekistan and across Central Asia, climate change has significant impacts on the availability of water resources. Building upon Switzerland’s engagement in the water sector reform in Uzbekistan, the program promotes climate resilient integrated water resources management in the Zarafshan River ZRB basin to enhance people’s livelihoods and to inform water sector reform processes and climate change policies at national and regional levels.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Climate change and environment
Environmental policy
Water sector policy
Disaster risk reduction DRR
01.03.2022 - 30.04.2027
CHF  4’630’000

Uzbekistan heavily depends on its neighbors for water supply, as only about 20% of water originates in the country. The growing water deficit – due to population growth and climate change – is a key factor that challenges Uzbekistan’s development.

With 7.5 million people, the ZRB is the most densely populated area of Uzbekistan, with agriculture playing a strong role for household livelihood systems and for large scale production. With 90% of the water being used for irrigated agriculture and in view of aggravating seasonal water shortages, improving agricultural water use efficiency is key to increase resilience of farmers to climate change. As various sectors, multiple stakeholders, and different water components are under the responsibilities of different ministries, an integrated multi-stakeholder approach with integrated water resources management is required to leverage these savings for an optimum benefit for the population of the ZRB. The project includes a ‘transboundary’ component since most of the water consumed in the Uzbek part of the basin originates in Tajikistan.

Objectives The overall goal of the project is to improve the livelihoods and well-being of the population in the ZRB through climate resilient integrated water resources management.
Target groups Farmers, water users and policy makers at national and regional levels.
Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1)    Stakeholders within the ZRB implement an effective, climate-resilient and integrated management of water resources, based on enabling technology, systems and institutions.

Outcome 2)    Water users benefit from and engage in decision making on equitable and integrated water resource management in the ZRB.

Outcome 3)    Policymakers institutionalize tools and approaches from iCH2O which supports the integration of climate-resilience and IWRM in multi-sectoral water reforms, policies and action plans in Uzbekistan, and contributes to the transboundary as well as to the regional dialogue on water cooperation.


Expected results:  

1)    A unified system of data collection and management is established at the pilot site in the ZRB to inform water resources management and to enable sharing of information with all water users;

2)    A River Basin Council (RBC) for the Uzbek ZRB is established and operational through the participation of all involved parties, considering the interests of each stakeholder and paying special attention to gender and to capacity building needs;

3)    A comprehensive river basin plan is developed in cooperation with all stakeholders and in exchange with the Tajik ZRB council, with roles and responsibilities for implementation and monitoring defined;

4)    Capacities of local farmers, residents and water suppliers are strengthened to apply and benefit from iCH2O approaches;$

5)    Women are empowered to actively participate in the local water management decision making;

6)    Methodologies and tools for market-based mechanisms and for further developing public-private partnership in the water sector are elaborated;

7)    Approaches developed, and lessons learned are mainstreamed into the relevant national bodies of the Government of Uzbekistan;

8)    A regional platform for data sharing is developed and used at the basin level.

Results from previous phases:  

During the short inception phase and given the comprehensive administrative reform, that reduced the number of governmental bodies and created some uncertainty with respect to responsibilities, the fine tuning of the project design and obtaining interest and support of stakeholders were achieved, specifically:

1.    Inception meeting and Planning workshop were conducted;

2.    Numerous consultations were held at district and national levels;

3.    Pilot site identified;

4.    Endorsement of envisaged project activities by national partners was received;

5.    Registration of the Caritas Switzerland office in Uzbekistan is supported by the key partner - Ministry of Natural Resources.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
  • Other international or foreign NGO North

Other partners
CARITAS Switzerland in Consortium with CAREC
Coordination with other projects and actors

Synergies with:

the NWRM project; the SECO Supported WASH projects (WB, ADB, AIIB); and the regional WICC portfolio shall be actively promoted. Opportunities for up-scaling and synergies will be sought with WB and EU supported projects on IWRM within Uzbekistan and across the border in Tajikistan within the ZRB. Together with CACH’s portfolio of projects in Tajikistan, supported by SDC and the EU, a dedicated focus on IWRM within Uzbekistan can be achieved through, and supported by a stronger transboundary engagement.

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    4’630’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    1’466’868
Project phases Phase 1 01.03.2022 - 30.04.2027   (Current phase)