Water conservation measures (water harvesting through contour trenches or terraces)

Published: 22 January 2020
Last edited: 22 January 2020

In Tajikistan, precipitation varies by season. In spring, precipitation is relatively high, while in the summer months are hot and dry. Irrigation water is provided through meltwater. Depending on the type of land use and local climatic conditions, different activities on harvesting and conserving water can be undertaken for making it available for annual crops.

Water from snow and rain can be harvested by installing contour trenches alongside contour lines or terraces. The trenches should be discontinuous and shifted, following a scheme of a chessboard. The trenches should be dug with 1m width, 1.5-2m length and 0.5m depth. This method has several important benefits:

  • Enables water infiltration, making it thus available for annual crops
  • Prevents the water run-off
  • Averts ¬†soil erosion, soil degradation, gullying and landslide


Education, training and other capacity development activities
Scale of implementation

Enabling factors

  • Increased water retention is especially important for cultivating rainfed annual crops as these cannot receive artificial irrigation and thus depend on the water reserves in the soil.
  • Climate change entails more water stress for annual rainfed crops and thus increases pressure for implementing water harvesting and conservation measures.

Lessons learned

Many farmers do not have their own tractors and contract owners of tractors for ploughing their land. These frequently do not want to plough contour lines, alleging that the strain for the engine is higher, till the point that the axle could break. As a consequence, it is better when the owners of the fields acquire single axle tractors by themselves or as a group for installing contour lines or terraces in their fields.