DUSHANBE, TAJIKISTAN (2 December 2021) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $30 million grant for Tajikistan to modernize the Yovon irrigation and drainage system in the lower Vakhsh river basin, which will help to boost agricultural productivity and increase opportunities for women in land and water management.

“This project will help improve agriculture and water productivity of selected irrigation systems in Tajikistan, rendering them more climate and disaster resilient and promoting food security,” said ADB Director General for Central and West Asia Yevgeniy Zhukov. “As ADB’s first gender equity-themed irrigation and drainage investment in the country, this will also help empower women to be more involved in land and water management.”

The project will modernize irrigation canals and associated structures, install energy-efficient water pumps, and upgrade drainage structures in the project area. About 6,700 farmers in the Yovon irrigation and drainage system, of whom 12% are female, will benefit from improved water service delivery, energy savings, and climate-smart and disaster-resilient technologies. Around 4,200 kitchen gardens, which are used to cultivate fruits and vegetables and mostly managed by women, will also benefit from the project.

“By using satellites to measure water productivity and crop production, and a buried pipe system with metering for increased control of irrigation water use, this project has a strong innovation and technological component,” said ADB Senior Water Resources Specialist Kazuhiro Yoshida. “This will help to maximize the limited arable land in Tajikistan and boost the income of male and female farmers alike.”

To strengthen management and operation of irrigation and drainage systems, the project will install a supervisory control and data acquisition system at main and branch canals, create a union of water user associations, and develop a cashless payment system for irrigation services. The project will help mainstream gender policies in water users’ associations and in the Agency for Land Reclamation and Irrigation to increase women’s involvement in management and access to services.

The project also includes $1 million in technical assistance to improve operation and maintenance practices and financial management in the irrigation sector.

Since Tajikistan joined ADB in 1998, the bank has become the country’s largest multilateral development partner with more than $2.2 billion in assistance, including around $1.7 billion in grants. ADB’s 2021–2025 country partnership strategy for Tajikistan focuses on three strategic priorities: structural reforms to enhance resource allocation and mobilization, improving labor productivity through human capital development, and fostering better livelihoods by investing in the land-linked economy.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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