Tackling the global change challenges to water security in Tajikistan, the water tower of Central Asia

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Tajikistan occupies only 11% of the territory of Central Asia. However, more than 65% of the region’s water resources are formed in the mountainous areas of this country. Changing water availability in mountain regions has a strong impact on water-dependent economic sectors such as energy and agriculture. Anthropogenic climate change is projected to bring about considerable changes to both the timing and volume of water in the long term through rising temperatures, increased snow and glacier melt and a more variable rainfall regime. However, there is limited understanding of what the impact on Tajikistan’s water resources will be, associated with uncertainty around the climate projections and the rate of depletion of the region’s glaciers. In Tajikistan, two-thirds of agricultural production is irrigated, but many farmers still must make a living from rain-fed land, which is even more vulnerable to drought and climate change. In addition to climate change impacts, the potential for conflict in the region is exacerbated by the current high population growth rate of between 2.5% and 3.4% per year. As living standards improve and demand resources increase, pressures on scarce water resources heighten.

Water resources management in Tajikistan is in a state of transition from a centralized administrative approach that existed for more than 30 years to a more integrated river basin approach, as proposed under the current sector reforms. While the current reforms are an essential move towards Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), there is still much to be done in the development and implementation of such a strategy. Some of the main issues in this regard is the absence of reliable information on water resources and the need to update old monitoring systems to better understand the behaviour of the water resources systems in the country.

This research focuses on the Zarafshan River, where efforts to implement IWRM started a few years ago, and it is an example of an application for the development of IWRM in other basins in the country. We will present the work carried out to better understand the hydrological balance in the basin incorporating snow and ice melt dynamics by combining the SWAT model with satellite images of daily snow cover.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventEGU General Assembly 2022 - Vienna & Online, Vienna, Austria
Duration: 23 May 202227 May 2022


ConferenceEGU General Assembly 2022
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