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Uzbekistan|environment|December 1, 2023 / 12:01 PM
Uzbekistan to switch to emergency mode of operation to save water

AKIPRESS.COM - President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev chaired a meeting on measures for the rational use of water resources and reducing losses on November 29, UzA reported.

20% of water resources are formed in Uzbekistan, the rest on the territory of neighboring states, the President noted. Water sources are decreasing year after year as a result of climate change. The situation regarding the management of transboundary rivers remains difficult. According to forecasts, the water shortage in Uzbekistan could reach 15 billion cubic meters by 2030.

However, even in such conditions, water is used irrationally. In Uzbekistan, 90% of water resources are spent on agriculture. For example, 10,000-11,000 cubic meters of water are spent per year to irrigate 1 hectare of cotton field, while in countries with similar climate and soil, it is 2-3 times less water. All this is achieved through proper water management and preventing their loss, Mirziyoyev stressed.

About $1 billion is spent annually on water management. The sector is the 4th largest recipient of budget allocations after education, healthcare, and agriculture. However, this does not give the expected effect due to incorrect calculations and the persistence of outdated approaches to water resource management.

The economy loses $5 billion in revenue per year due to water loss.

The President has declared a "high-impact year for canal concreting". The task has been set to concrete 1,500 kilometers next year, which is 4 times more canals than this year. At least 2,000 kilometers of canals will have to be concreted in 2025.

The task of introducing water-saving technologies was set as well.

Uzbekistan has 4.3 million hectares of irrigated area, of which 30% have introduced water-saving technologies, according to the President. In such clusters and farms, water savings of 30-40%, fertilizers and fuel by 25-30%, and increased productivity are achieved.

However, in Kashkadarya region, where water costs are high, only 16% of the land is irrigated using this method. More work should be carried out on laser leveling of land, which is the simplest agrotechnical measure that allows saving water. Such areas are less than 10% in Kashkadarya, Samarkand, and Tashkent regions.

One of the reasons is the need for an established mechanism for reimbursing part of the loan to farmers who have introduced water-saving technologies. Therefore, a new funding system was established at the meeting. For clusters and farms wishing to introduce water-saving technologies, a credit line will be created for 5 years, with a 2-year grace period, with an interest payment of 14% per annum. For this purpose, an open electronic platform will be launched, where the process of concluding contracts with both the bank and suppliers will take place online.

The President also ordered to reduce water delivery costs. 

Currently, 212 soums are spent on 1 cubic meter of water supplied to clusters and farmers. However, it is 2-3 times more expensive in Bukhara, Kashkadarya and Namangan. 63% of water consumption comes from pumping stations. In particular, 7 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity are consumed annually for irrigation. Since 80% of water pumps are outdated, energy consumption is high.

The head of state noted that the correct way to reduce costs and increase efficiency is to modernize pumps and transfer their management to a private partnership.

Several projects are already being implemented in this direction. The task has been set to speed up this work, and with the participation of international financial organizations, 95 pumping stations need to be updated, and a tender for another 118 pumping stations needs to be announced at the beginning of next year. Foreign companies have suggested an initiative to take over 268 pumps.

It was noted that due to these measures, pump power costs can be reduced by 300 million kilowatt-hours next year and by 1.5 billion kilowatt-hours over the next three years.

The Ministry of Water Resources and international financial organizations have been instructed to develop a three-year program to modernize pumps. Instructions were given for implementing modern management in the field and maintaining water records.

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