Project Profile

Ground Water monitoring Ferghana Valley

Duration : June 1, 2019 - September 30, 2020
(Extended to November 30, 2020)

The Ferghana Valley is one of the key irrigated agricultural areas in Central Asia. The three Republics Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan share the densely populated valley floor with an estimated total population of 10 million. The total irrigated area in the Ferghana Valley covers 1.4 mio hectares [ha], of which two-third is on Uzbek territory, one quarter on Kyrgyz territory, the rest being situated in Tajikistan. The lack of proper operation and maintenance of the irrigation and drainage infrastructure after the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 is negatively impacting the agricultural economy of the valley. The decay of the irrigation and drainage infrastructure, including vertical drainage wells, is the leading cause of low water use efficiency and significant losses of irrigation water to the shallow aquifers. The resulting rising groundwater tables cause secondary salinization, and the accumulation of salts sterilizes the topsoil and adversely impacts agricultural yields. Nowadays, an estimated 30 to 50 percent of the total irrigated area in Central Asia is affected by salinity with an increasing trend. Certain places, such as the Rishtan/Altyaryk region in Uzbekistan, suffer from these developments to a high degree (see rectangle in Figure 1 below). Over the last 20 years, water-intensive rice cultivation started to emerge in the Burgandinsky Massif, which is located in upstream Kyrgyzstan. Approximately 30 percent of the total discharge of the Sokh river is diverted to the cultivated area there. This corresponds to an irrigation water depth of 2.2 m per irrigated season. A significant amount of the water recharges the shallow aquifer under the cultivated area from where it then flows downslope towards Uzbekistan. Overall Goal / Impact Knowledge of effective irrigation and drainage water management strategies contributes to maintaining groundwater levels at required depths, ensuring the sustenance of agricultural production and livelihoods in the Bagdad, Rishtan and Aityrak region in Uzbekistan.

Location(s): Uzbekistan
Project Contact: Anarbekov, Oyture
Donor(s): Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
Research Collaborator(s) : Institute of Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology,

Farmers cultivating lettuce, while another farmer digs a small canal (marwa) with a donkey, Egypt. Photo: cc: Hamish John Appleby/IWMI