The fifth extended Project Board meeting of the joint project of the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan, implemented by the UN Development Programme in Uzbekistan under the financial support from the Adaptation Fund “Developing climate resilience of farming communities in the drought prone parts of Uzbekistan” was held in UzHydromet.

The meeting was attended by representatives of UNDP, UzHydromet, a number of ministries and relevant agencies of Uzbekistan and Karakalpakstan.

The First Deputy Director-General of the Center for Hydrometeorological Service at the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Uzbekistan, B.Nishonov and UNDP Resident Representative a.i. in Uzbekistan, F.Garakhanov welcomed participants and Project Board representatives in their welcoming speeches. A detailed information on the progress in achieving the key project objectives was provided through presentations:

  • Institutional capacity building and mechanism for drought risk management and early warning;
  • Development of a climate-resilient farming practices for dekhkan farms in Karakalpakstan;
  • Implementation of landscape level adaptation measures to protect the soil and retain moisture in it, which as expected will improve the climate resistance of degraded lands and pastures;.
  • Awareness raising on climate-resilient agricultural production systems, including crop and livestock production carried out on drylands, and ensuring wide access to knowledge.

According to experts, over the past two decades, Uzbekistan has experienced several extreme droughts. In the years of the most extreme droughts (2000–2001), 50% - 75% of the crop was lost. Climate change scenarios predict that the frequency of droughts and their intensity in Uzbekistan will increase, particularly in Karakalpakstan, where the negative impacts of dangerous hydrometeorological phenomena are exacerbated by the consequences of the Aral Sea crisis.

“It is important to understand how we can mitigate the effects of climate change, since we are not in a position to prevent dangerous climatic events. Adaptation measures are a set of long-term measures that allow to reduce and mitigate the effects of climate-dependent hazardous phenomena,” said project manager A. Merkushkin. In 2017, the entire meteorological observation network in Karakalpakstan consisting of 10 meteorological stations with a territorial coverage of 40,000 km2 was automated. Two key hydrological posts in the lower reaches of the Amu Darya River ware modernized with automatic water discharge measurement systems. Five new sensors - pyranometers, also contributed to building up the technical capacity of the hydrometeorological monitoring system. Over the past year, 40 observers had been trained in the operation and maintenance of measuring and communication equipment.

In the reporting presentations, the experts said that with the help of a drought early warning system that is adapted to the lower reaches of the Amu Darya, the risk of low water or drought for the growing season can now be predicted with a high forecast success rate and a lead time of three months.

Farmers and dekhkans, rural residents of Karakalpakstan can learn in detail about modern technologies for resource conservation by contacting the Extension Centers operating in Nukus and two pilot districts. According to the report of the project specialists, 3,893 people have already used the services of the centers during this year. Among the popular requests are the possibility of using laser land levelling technology. As a result, the demonstration of its practical use was carried out on the territory of 1,390 ha. 944 farmers, 2 292 representatives of Kegeli, Kanlykul, Chimbay and Takhtakupyr districts completed operational training and received technical assistance in its application. 15 sets of such equipment were transferred to local communities. In total, 83 items of technical equipment, agricultural machines and mechanisms in the amount of 750 thousand US dollars were acquired and transferred to end users by the project.

Another important result was the signing of a memorandum of understanding between UNDP and the State Committee on Forestry of the Republic of Uzbekistan, according to which forestries shall carry out forest reclamation on degraded lands of 3,000 hectares.

For the first time in Karakalpakstan, within the framework of the project, the practice of pasture reclamation has been tested through establishing cooperative communities, as adaptation measures to climate change at the landscape level. In 2018, 9 out of 10 cooperatives were established in 5 pilot districts. In the established pasture communities with a cooperative management principle, 43,522 representatives of livestock farms were united. These communities are also engaged in the establishment of new pastures on an area of 15 307 hectares. There was a lively discussion of the presented results of the project activities in 2018 and plans for 2019, which provide for consolidation of the achieved results and more effective actions that ensure the achievement of ambitious objectives facing the project.

Participants noted examples of best practices demonstrated by the project, and the need for their large-scale use. They also pointed to the need for increasing the technical and methodological capacity of the Extension Centers, providing technical assistance for the implementation of climate-resilient technologies in the practice of pasture communities established with the assistance of the project and the need for large-scale awareness raising campaigns for the project task force on climate-resilient agriculture.

Opinions, wishes and needs of the representatives of the target groups will be taken under consideration and, to the extent possible, will be taken into account when planning the subsequent project activities. The participants of the event expressed their willingness to assist in the implementation of the project goals and objectives for all the thematic components.