Increased efficiency of irrigation water use to address climate change related water shortage

Published: 28 May 2019
Last edited: 09 July 2019
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Irrigated agriculture is often limited by the availability of irrigation water. In many irrigated areas the distribution canals and on-farm irrigation systems are in poor shape, which causes substantial water losses. These problems are increasingly exacerbated by the impact of climate change causing a reduction of available irrigation water with higher temperatures and expansion of irrigated agriculture leading to higher irrigation water demand. Increasing frequency and intensity of flashfloods and debris flows pose risks to the functioning of irrigation canals and thus to the livelihoods of farmers and food security.
The solution reduced the substantial losses of irrigation water caused by seepage from canals, structural problems in irrigation systems and on-farm irrigation. It also addresses risks caused by flashfloods and debris flows. The solution is based on a technical and financial support to the local communities in collaboration with  district water management authorities.


North and Central Asia
Scale of implementation
Disaster risk reduction
Erosion prevention
Infrastructure maintenance
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 13 – Climate action
Aichi targets
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with a company
Direct engagement with associations


Sughd Province, Tajikistan | Shahriston district, Sughdiyon village, Shokirobod village and J. Rasulov district, Dehmoi village


Communities, farmers and district administration did not have the financial means and technical capacity to implement improvement and adaptation to climate change impact of the elements of irrigation systems. For farmers the investment costs of efficient on-farm irrigation were prohibitive for testing these technologies. With the help of the project these challenges were addressed, external investment and technical input were combined with substantial contributions by communities and land users.


- Farmers involved in irrigated agriculture;

- Villagers using irrigation water for home garden plots and also for household needs

How do the building blocks interact?

The three building blocks address the key elements of irrigation water use - the source of water, the delivery and distribution systems and the on-farm use of the water for agricultural production. All three building blocks help to address climate change impact by achieving a more efficient use of irrigation water. The entire system of irrigated agriculture becomes thus less prone to the impact of irrigation water shortage and drought expected to become more freqent due to reduced and irregular rainfall, reduced storage of precipitation in snow fields and glaciers and higher summer temperatures. Additionally, in particular by the building block dealing with improvement of canals the increasing disaster risk is addressed, thus making the whole irrigation system more resilient.


In the practice some of the building blocks might be implemented independently, where only certain elements of the irrigation system require changes or improvement. 


Environmental impacts:

- Reduced consumption of irrigation water.


Social impacts:

- Improved awareness about climate change impact and the importance of irrigation water use efficiency;

- Mobilization of community members, of own resources in the community and of donor funding for joint work to address problems affecting all farmers/community members;

- Improved technical knowledge of communities and involved departments on construction of irrigation systems minimizing water losses and reducing disaster risk;

- The collaboration between donor, district level water management department, community leadership and community members was consolidated;

- Potential of conflicts about irrigation water within and between villages is reduced;

- Reduced disaster risk.

Economic impacts:

- Reduced shortage of irrigation water;

Reduced risk of failure of irrigation systems due to disasters;

- The improved irrigation efficiency leads to "more crop per drop" and thus to reduced costs for irrigation water;

- Secure yields in irrigated agriculture and more stable incomes of farmers and improved food security;

- Water from irrigation canals is also available for household needs.



Increasing human population has forced the government of Tajikistan to establish new villages on lands with very limited available irrigation water. Sadulloh is one of the inhabitants of such a new settlement, located near the district center of Shahriston. Before the houses were built the land had been used for rainfed agriculture and livestock grazing. The loamy soil permits for the cultivation of fruit trees and orchards only where irrigation water is available. But the water delivered by a pipeline from a spring is barely sufficient as drinking water. In periods of drought the people buy water brought to the villages by a tanker at 75 Somoni (about 8 USD) for 2 cubic meters. So even no house gardens could be irrigated.


The solution would be to capture as much as possible of the rainfall. Precipitation is unreliable and often occurs in few, short and heavy rainshowers. Sadulloh together with the project engineers modified the gutters at his house to capture the water from the roof. A concrete reservoir was built, large enough to collect sufficient water during the wet season to irrigate his house garden.


For making the best use of the irrigation water Sadulloh with the help of the project engineers installed a drip irrigation system, which supplies more than two dozen fruit trees - apples, pears, peaches, apricoats, mulberries - as well as his vegetables. So he can produce enough for his extended family of eight people. Now the technology is copied by his neighbors. 

Contributed by

Stefan Michel

Other contributors

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH