Mon 25-09-2023



Purpose of Drought Management Plan

  1. The purpose of the Drought Management Plan is to provide a guide and project pipeline to address problems of drought within the basin, and to reduce the potential impacts of drought.
  2. The changing climate is going to add to drought problems within the region, with rising temperatures and increasing variability of rainfall likely to make droughts more severe, and more frequent. Therefore, the preparation of a plan to manage the risks of drought and to plan the mitigation of the impacts of drought becomes increasingly important.

Definition of Drought

  1. A drought is a period when there is an unexpected shortage of water. The FAO document “Drought characteristics and management in Central Asia and Turkey” (2017)[1] identifies four types of drought:
  2. Meteorological drought – caused by a shortage in rainfall;
  3. Agricultural drought – when there is not enough soil moisture for optimum crop production;
  4. Hydrological drought – caused by low river flows or low groundwater availability; and
  5. Socio-economic drought – when a lack of water affects people: water is in short supply for domestic water supply.

Institutional Arrangements and Responsibilities

  1. Under Government Resolution No. 149 of 3 March 2014, the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources (MEWR) is responsible for water sector policy and regulation, as well as for providing planning and strategic guidance. In particular, it is responsible for the elaboration of the national water-sector policy, the formulation of the water resources use, conservation and protection strategy, including the setting-up of water withdrawal limits, the development, implementation and enforcement of laws, regulations, norms and standards for the sustainable management of water resources, including inter-state waters, the creation and maintenance of water resources database and information systems and of records concerning the use and protection of water resources, the issuance of permits for the construction of water facilities and bank protection works, the implementation of IWRM, the development of water balances and IWRM plans (including basin plans), the implementation of measures for the prevention and liquidation of emergency situations, water resources monitoring together with the other institutions concerned, the determination of a ratification methodology for water use and the settlement of water disputes.
  2. According to Presidential Decree No. 12 of 19 November 2013, the Agency for Land Reclamation and Irrigation (ALRI) is responsible for the operation and maintenance of land reclamation and irrigation services. Under its statutes (charter), approved by Government Resolution No. 125 of 27 February, 2014, ALRI performs policy-making and supervision functions in respect of land reclamation and irrigation, including the elaboration of the state policy on this subject, the formulation, implementation and enforcement of legislation, including the limitation and termination of water uses in cases of non-compliance with the established water withdrawal limits, and the implementation of measures to protect water quantity and quality.
  3. The Committee on Emergency Situations and Civil Defense under the GOT (CESCD) is in charge of the management of emergency situations, including those produced by floods and drought. According to its statute, the CESCD is responsible for coordinating crisis management at the national and local levels through its local branches. However, this does not include a prevention function.
  4. The local authorities are responsible for implementing water legislation within the territories under their jurisdiction, and for issuing permits for localized groundwater abstractions and the individual use of local ponds and reservoirs
  5. The institutional set-up with relation to drought management is summarized in Table 1 which lists institutions involved, and their key responsibilities.

Table 1: Agencies with Responsibilities for Drought Management




Ministry of Energy and Water Resources (MEWR)

  • Water sector policy
  • Management of water abstractions
  • Implementation of measures for the prevention and liquidation of emergency situations in relation to water

No specific responsibilities relating to drought management

Agency for Land Reclamation and Irrigation (ALRI)

  • Policy-making and supervision of land reclamation and irrigation activities
  • Implementation of measures to protect water quality and quantity

Committee on Emergency Situations and Civil Defense, under GOT (CESCD)

  • Management of emergency situations, including those produced by floods and drought

No responsibility for measures to prevent or mitigate in advance possible impacts of drought

Local authorities

  • Implementation of water legislation, including issuing of permits for abstraction from local water sources
  1. A document “National Drought Management and Mitigation Plan for Tajikistan”[2] has been produced in 2006 which addresses some issues relating to the management of droughts in Tajikistan. This document is heavily referred to in the FAO (2017) report. While explaining the hydrometeorology of drought occurrence in Tajikistan and making recommendations for future management of drought little practical insight on how to practically address the management of drought are provided.
  2. The National Drought Management and Mitigation Plan for Tajikistan (NDMMPT) document characterizes the incidence of both meteorological and hydrologic drought episodes within Tajikistan. For meteorological drought, it notes that on average precipitation in the foothill areas of the country comprises 15-20% of all precipitation, increasing up to 50-70% in high altitude areas, and 85-90% in the high Pamir areas. Winter is characterized by cyclonic activity linked to sharp rises in temperature caused by incursions of warmer and humid air from Iran. In winter, the Siberian anticyclone can extend into Tajikistan, producing cold air, with rain, sleet and snow.
  3. In spring, the expected rainfall is due to anticyclones over Russia or Kazakhstan, but extended dry spells are possible if a ridge of the Siberian anticyclone dominates. Bringing warm and clear weather. The summer gives rise to a weakening of cyclone activity in Central Asia, and largely warm and dry weather. Autumn is characterized by polar, high altitude frontal zone drifting in, with dry winds from the north and anticyclones over the country. Rain can occur due to cold fronts of moving cyclonic behavior.
  4. The NDMMPT identifies the year 2000 as a particularly severe drought in Tajikistan, brought about by dominant airflows bring air from Afghanistan, which was also suffering drought conditions, with air-flow over a sequence of mountain ridges losing moisture because of repeated adiabatic cooling and warming. Temperatures were higher than usual, and from February onwards rainfall was much lower than usual. High temperatures continued into spring and rainfall remained sparse. The following winter and spring also had low precipitation, adding to the consequences of this extended drought.
  5. Incidence of hydrological drought identified in the NDMMPT. The document notes an observed pattern of behaviour in the period 1961 to 1990 with snow accumulations in the foothills (up to 2000 m asl) increased by 35%, but above this limit snow accumulations reduced by 35%. This would be expected to impact on surface water availability in the rivers.
  6. The NDMMPT document also provides more detailed examination of the situation in two case-study regions of the country – Shaartuz and Hissar (neither in the Pyanj basin). This analysis was used to identify a number of actions needed to mitigate the problems of drought in the country – resulting in 48 recommendations for change, including measures to be implemented by a number of departments of the Government of Tajikistan. No clear linking of the recommendations made to the information contained within the document is provided.
  7. The recommendations contained within the NDMMPT can be broadly categories into 11 key areas for change:

Administration: Some 15 measures are proposed to improve integration of drought management efforts, and improve information on droughts and understanding of droughts amongst the population of the country;

Capacity building: Ten measures to improve the ability of the Hydrometeorology department to understand drought occurrence, and improve forecasting of droughts. Also includes recommendations to improve the ability in modelling work to improve understanding of hydrological processes;

Training: Two recommendations are made with objectives of improving the availability of key specialist knowledge for addressing drought issues, and improving understanding of droughts within the general public;

Studies: Recommendations include three specific studies to be undertaken to improve knowledge of water resources, the role of windbreaks in the reduction of evaporative losses and the impact of climate change on the productivity of key ecosystems in the country;

Irrigation management: Three measures to improve irrigation application efficiencies are identified;

Agricultural management: Two recommendations cover methods to improve moisture retention in soils and improved varieties of cotton that use less water;

Forestry: Two recommendations are made for changes in forestry management as a means of conserving water in times of drought;

Pasture management: Two recommendations are made to work to improve management of pastures and improve understanding of how pastureland can be made less vulnerable to droughts;

Public health: There are three recommendations relating to public health – improved management of potable water supplies, improve quality control of agricultural produce and increase protection and facilities for those exposed to high temperatures during drought periods;

Equipment: Two recommendations cover procurement of additional hydrometeorological monitoring equipment to improve identification of droughts;

Finance: There are four recommendations relating to funding and finance – two address tariff systems for provision of water, one addresses social insurance funding and one addresses remuneration for labor work.


Historical Droughts

  1. FAO (2017) report identifies a frequency of occurrence of drought within Tajikistan which impacts on crop production. They report that yields are reduced by 20% or more because of drought:

Once in 3 years in South and southeast Tajikistan, including Danghara and Kulyab districts;

Once in 4 years in Eastern Tajikistan, mostly the GBAO regions.

  1. Severe droughts, reducing average crop yield by 50 percent or more, are reported to be experienced once in 6-8 years in South Tajikistan, including Danghara, Kulyab, Temurmalik, Baljuvon, and Vose areas.
  2. In recent years, droughts are reported to have occurred in 2001, 2003, 2008 and 2011. In 2001 the Government estimated that across the whole of Tajikistan US$41.4 million damage was done to cereal crops and in 2011 the damage to pastures was estimated to US$18.5 million.

Hydrology of Droughts

  1. The monthly pattern of rainfall in Kulyab is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Mean Monthly Rainfall at Kulyab

  1. The record at Kulyab shows the pattern of rainfall through the year, with most rainfall occurring in the period November to May. The period May to October is very dry – and the period when temperatures are high, the key crops grow, and water requirements are high. Therefore most agricultural production requires irrigation as rainfall is insufficient.
  2. Monthly rainfall totals are quite variable – with the one in ten year dry rainfall in each month (also shown in the Figure) being a small fraction of the average monthly value. This means that shortages of rainfall can occur at any time during the year.
  3. For the pasturelands on the hills that are not irrigated, the vegetation grows on a combination of soil moisture and rainfall. The winter rainfall occurs as snow (largely), and accumulates so most of the winter precipitation melts in spring and so effectively contributes to the moisture available for the pastureland growth. Analysis of rainfall records at Kulyab shows that total precipitation in the period December to April (inclusive) averages 436 mm, and that the one in ten year low winter rainfall remains as high as 70% of this value. Thus to accumulated precipitation available for rain-fed vegetation is reasonably reliable. Similar analysis of rainfall records in Khorog shows similar results – see Figure 2.

Figure 2: Mean Monthly Rainfall at Khorog

  1. In Khorog again the reliable rainfall each month is low, although the mean rainfall values in the period December to April are quite high. With a short growing season in the Upper Pyanj catchment, little rainfall occurs and even less can be relied upon. The total rainfall in the period December to April (inclusive) averages 215 mm, but the reliable winter total is only 52% of this value. This means that the rainfed pasturelands are more likely to fail to produce adequate vegetation in this region in drier years.
  2. Flow rates in the region’s rivers are more reliable than rainfall. The main Pyanj river has large reliable flows, and the glacial-fed rivers are reliable in that their source of water has accumulated over many years and so the base flow within these rivers will be sufficient to meet all expected demands.
  3. For both these rivers, the reliable (one in ten year dry mean monthly) flow is about 50% of the mean value. While this means there will be shortages for the users of the river water, there should be sufficient water for most of the important uses if managed carefully. Crop yields would significantly reduce, but the result should not be widespread crop failure.


Badakhshan Zone

  1. In the Pamir mountains area of Gorno-Badakshan, water for domestic needs is mostly met from rivers and streams, which are largely fed by glacial meltwaters and snow melt, and not particularly prone to dry periods.
  2. Agriculture comprises small areas of cultivation, largely in valley bottoms, with crops including orchards and cereal grains. Many rural households also have livestock, which depend in part on mountain pastures which consume water from snowmelt and rainfall. These can be vulnerable to poor rainfall conditions, leading to poor quality pastures and thus the need to provide supplementary food to the livestock for their survival.
  3. The prevailing poverty of the GBAO region increases the vulnerability of the local communities to impact of any phenomenon that reduces productivity, and therefore even minor reductions in crop yield due to drought can have significant impact in the region, and require efforts to mitigate such impact.
  4. There are a number of Government and non-government organisations that work with local communities in the GBAO to relieve hardship. In particular, the network of NGOs that form part of the Aga Khan Development Network are active in these areas.

Kizilsu and Yaksu Zone

  1. The Kizilsu and Yaksu valleys are the part of the Pyanj Basin that are most water-stressed, with large areas of irrigated land and relatively low natural water resources. This makes the area vulnerable to reductions in water resource availability in times of low flows.
  2. For domestic water supply, many communities use groundwater, which has high reliability and thus particularly useful in times of drought. Some communities rely on surface water resources and can suffer from shortfall during drp periods.
  3. For irrigated agriculture, water users are reliant on diversions from surface water bodies. This requires reliable flows within the rivers and streams of the area, and this has led to shortages in the past. The FAO report (2017) suggests drought can cause up to 50% reduction in crop yields in this region once in every 6-8 years.
  4. In addition to problems with maintaining adequate supplies of irrigation water, there are also livestock that rely on rain-fed pastureland within this region. These are particularly vulnerable to dry periods, or low snow accumulation during the winter, leading to poor grazing for the animals. This leads to over-grazing (and lasting damage to the pastures), as well as loss of livestock.

Lower Pyanj Zone

  1. The lower Pyanj zone has the water resources within the main Pyanj river available which is large enough not to have any issues with insufficient flows to meet water needs.
  2. Domestic water supply has a strong element of groundwater use, supplementing use of water within the irrigation supply network. The irrigation network is dry for part of the year, when the groundwater systems are relied upon. The water resources availability of the groundwater is not an issue, so long as power remains available for the extraction of the water. Some areas have relatively poor quality groundwater, and in these areas alternative arrangements need to be made to maintain supplies.
  3. Historically, the Lower Pyanj does not have significant history of problems of drought caused by shortage of water resources. There are areas reliant on pumped surface water and groundwater, and these areas have suffered from problems in the past due to mechanical faiure of the pumping systems.
  4. There is some use of rainfed pasturelands for livestock grazing, which are vulnerable to low winter and spring rainfall, and low accumulated snowpack fir the spring melting period.


Drought Monitoring and Warning

  1. Early and accurate warning of the onset of a drought is a key requirement for the effective management of the drought. This warning can provide important lead time to take measures to mitigate the impact of the drought, including actions such as:
  • Allowing farmers to take crop selection and planting decisions that allow for lower irrigation water availability and thus avoid severe damage to agricultural productivity because of the drought;
  • Prioritizing water use in a planned way that makes efficient use of water rather than being forced into taking last-minute decisions after most of the available water has already been used;
  • Planning relief measures to provide assistance and support to those in drought-affected areas.
  1. The development of a reliable drought warning system will require extensive hydrometeorological and hydrological research, and extensive cooperation with surrounding national hydrometeorological services to work together to develop such forecasting systems by sharing data and using latest developments in satellite-based data systems and meteorological modelling. A primary requirement for such work is detailed information about historic droughts – the origins and causes of the drought, and the impact the drought had on the country. This information is not readily available in Tajikistan, so a major preliminary activity would be the compilation of such information from all sources.
  2. It is noted that there is an on-going, ADB-supported project to provide capacity-building in the management of natural disasters[3] which is also supporting steps to promote evidence-based analysis of past disasters as a means of identifying steps needed to mitigate risks and consequences of such events. The ADB project is to provide capacity-building technical support to efforts to mainstream disaster risk management within Government departments and promote awareness of ways to mitigate disaster risks through preparedness and planning in advance of such events. While drought management is not specifically identified as a key type of natural disaster risk within Tajikistan, the project output 2 to manage natural hazards and minimize losses includes:

“The project will establish an early warning system to enable the CESCD to issue timely warnings to local authorities, communities, and other stakeholders covering disasters such as floods, droughts, avalanches, and mudflows”

  1. The approach used within the ADB project and its capacity building work will help the mitigation of drought-related natural events too.
  2. Analysis of meteorological and hydrological data together with records of historical droughts can provide a methodology for identifying significant drought events in advance (or in the early stages of their development) to enable warnings to be issued to water managers to take steps to mitigate the impact of the potential drought. For such warnings to be effective, clear steps to be taken to mitigate the drought need to be identified in advance. This will also require detailed study to identify the key procedures to be followed to manage limited water resource availability. Such studies will also need to be conducted, together with use of tools such as modelling water management systems and the water resource scenarios to identify optimal procedures to be followed.

Control of Water Use in Times of Drought

Improving Water Use Efficiency

  1. In those parts of the Pyanj Basin where droughts might occur, it is important that water is used efficiently and not wasted. At present there are significant water lost within supply systems and in water use, including

Poor delivery efficiency in irrigation systems where canal structures leak water, and lining of canal systems are inefficient or non-existent;

Low on-field water application efficiencies for irrigation, with excess water applied to fields and allowed to flow into drains, and other inefficient practices;

Lack of uptake of efficient irrigation technologies and agricultural practices;

Leakage in piped water supply systems for domestic use;

Water wastage through leaving taps running and uncontrolled outflows from piped water systems.

  1. Many water saving measures require substantial investment, but a start can be made by changing attitudes to water wastage, and installing a better attitude focused on the value of water to take small measures that can lead to substantial savings. For improvements to irrigation efficiency, major investments would be needed in:

Irrigation canal system reconstruction to reduce seepage and other losses, and to provide better flow regulation and measurement, and increase number and accuracy of flow measurement sites;

Inter-farm and intra-farm channel improvements to reduce seepage and spillage losses;

In-field improvements to improve water distribution and reduce in-field losses, to promote agricultural practices to improve water use and to invest in more efficient water delivery systems such as drip irrigation systems, use of sprinklers, greenhouses and other techniques to reduce water loss.

  1. A key to increasing water use efficiency is real volumetric payments for water, based on measurements of volumes of water provided to farms rather than assumptions concerning such supply. This would provide real incentives to farmers to improve water use efficiency, as well as providing more detailed information concerning irrigation system flows and losses. This is turn can provide data needed to benchmark irrigation system efficiency and identify efficient and inefficient water users and irrigation practices.
  2. Efficient management of irrigation systems within the Pyanj basin will require much more data – and accurate data – on water flows within the system, and to assess system performance. Investment is needed to enable the managers of the system (ALRI and the Water Users Associations) to identify where investment is needed to improve the system, and support needed for farmers to enable them to learn about efficient agricultural practices and to adopt such practices. Improve knowledge of the system will also lead to allowing managers to make informed judgements of how water should be used in times of drought.
  3. A real and practical difficulty in times of drought is rationing use of water, and making sure farmers keep to agreed rationing of the water supply and not try to take more than their allocated amounts. This requires extended buy-in from all stakeholders in the system to the revised supply schedule and providing support to farmers who have their livelihood compromised by the reduced water supplies. This issue will also require careful planning in advance of any measures taken to manage water supplies in times of shortage through drought.
  4. For urban and rural water supply in times of drought similar measures are needed. Investment in metering and reducing system leakage and volumes of non-accounted water is needed in general to make the system more efficient and manageable. Extension work with stakeholders in needed to promote careful use of water when it is in short supply, and this extension work needs to be increased during any declared drought period to continue to promote careful use and encourage communities to work together to conserve water.

Prioritization of Water Users

  1. An issue during a drought is how to most effectively allocate what water is available to the competing uses of water. This requires prior thought about how to prioritize water use, and how to effectively control the use of water when it is in short supply.
  2. In general terms, highest priority for scarce water will be for domestic supply, to safeguard the population over safeguarding livestock and crops.
  3. How to implement such prioritization is complicated, as rural water users will have shared supply systems and access to the supply system needs to be locally controlled to be effective. This requires substantial buy-in from all rural communities, which requires extensive consultation and consensus on how droughts can be managed locally.
  4. Each water body (reach of a river, lake or groundwater aquifer) which is vulnerable to drought conditions should have a plan for restricting access to the water resource if a drought occurs. This plan should provide identification of where use of the resource will be restricted, and how the volumes of water to be allowed to each group of users should be evaluated and confirmed. This will also change during he drought, as it becomes clearer as the drought develops how much water is going to be available, and how long the drought is going to last. The plan for reductions in supplies will take into close consideration the impacts of such reduced supplies – reduction in yields of crops (or total loss of crops), loss of livestock or extreme distress of the population sourcing their domestic water from the water body. Providing clear guidelines concerning how such allocations should be made must be part of a detailed drought management plan for the basin.

Control of Water Use

  1. Effective controls over water use in times of drought requires a system of measurement of water used, and close control over the supply of water to make sure people adhere to the reduction program restricting water use. At the moment there is very little measurement of water supply, and so this aspect will require considerable strengthening.
  2. A further practical problem over imposing restrictions on use of water by those who would otherwise have access to the water supply is that in practice it requires very close observation to make sure people respect the reductions in water that can be used, as individuals are foregoing a benefit they would normally receive for the greater good of the community – and there would be strong temptation to take more water than the restricted volume agreed unless there was close monitoring to make sure all adhere to the revised allocations. This requires strong local policing of the use of water. User organizations – such as the irrigation Water Users Associations would have a very important role in such monitoring of water use.
  3. For piped water systems for domestic water supply, reduction of water consumption is most effectively managed through the shutting off of domestic connections to the supply system and making water available only through community stand-pipes. This is a drastic measure but has been shown to effectively cut water use. Without such measures, domestic consumption typically only reduces by a few percent unless accompanied by widespread community information and propaganda.

Emergency Additional Water Supplies

  1. In times of drought one way of addressing shortages is to tap new resources to supplement the restricted existing sources. Options to supplement supplies include:

Drilling wells to provide additional groundwater;

Use of mobile pumping units to abstract water from other surface water sources, such as lakes or drainage water or rivers and streams that are not regularly used for water supply;

Promoting re-use of water where possible, such as “grey” waste-water for irrigation purposes (for crops where use of grey water does not present a health hazard);

Use of temporary pipelines (or similar conveyance systems) to bring water into a drought-affected area from outside where water is more plentiful.

  1. For such measures to be effective in time of drought, preparatory work needs to be undertaken to identify where such additional water sources might be used, and making plans in advance for the work needed to bring such water sources into use.
  2. Preparations for using additional wells to augment water supply in times of drought will require:

Preparatory work to identify where wells can be drilled, the design of such wells and work to estimate the yield of such wells when they are constructed;

Access to drilling rigs to construct such wells (either by contracting agencies with drilling rigs with agreement that they will make such equipment immediately available in time of need – or else procurement of such rigs to hold in store until emergency arises with access to skilled operators to work the rigs);

Access to materials needed for well construction – including pumps and motors and pipework to deliver water to where it is needed. Again, this might be procured in advance and held in storage, or with agreement for rapid supply by those with such materials in store in time of urgent demand.

  1. Mobile pumping units can be used to augment water supplies on a temporary basis from water bodies not usually exploited – such as agricultural drains, lakes and ponds or similar. These will usually also require pipelines to deliver water where it is needed, and perhaps temporary water treatment facilities to make sure the water quality is adequate its intended purpose. Again, advance procurement arrangements would usually be needed in preparation for the use of such units – either procurement to be held in storage or arrangements with those already owning such equipment.

Drought Relief

  1. Bringing emergency water supplies into a drought-affected area is possible in some cases, but the cost of transportation is (usually) so high that this is only practical for domestic water needs. Use of tankers to provide water to a village is a technique that has been used to save lives in severe drought in a number of locations.
  2. In addition to providing essential water to drought-impacted communities, supplies of food and healthcare are also likely to be needed as drought will reduce food availability and malnutrition leads to a wide range of health problems. So extensive community support will be needed where droughts are severe.
  3. Drought relief is needed over an extended period where agriculture is severely impacted by the drought, as loss of livestock and seed for next season’s planting will also be required by the impacted communities.
  4. It is anticipated that arrangements for disaster relief within Tajikistan will also apply to droughts, and so the management of drought relief will be a responsibility of the Disaster Management Agency – currently the Committee for Emergency Situations and Civil Defense, and local authorities.

Recovery Following Drought

  1. It is important to also prepare for the recovery phase following a drought. Rebuilding agricultural activities and making sure water supply systems are wholesome and efficient will require additional investment. A drought can also induce significant longer-term health problems, so additional healthcare might be needed to overcome the impact of a period of poor nutrition, the use of poor quality water spreading infections and other issues.
  2. It is assumed that the management of recovery from drought will be the responsibility of local authorities, and that all such authorities will have prepared plans for management of such situations – under guidance from CESCD or similar central government agencies. The Pyanj RBO can also provide technical support and advice.


Strategy to Address Key Drought Issues

  1. The FAO (2017) report states that when drought occurs in Tajikistan, the Ministry of Agriculture sets up an ad-hoc Drought Management Committee which comprises representatives of the following institutions:

Deputy Vice Minister (Chairman);

Ministry of Agriculture;

Ministry of Water Resources;

Tajik Agrarian Academy of Science;

Tajik Hydro-meteorological Service;

Local authorities representatives (from areas affected by drought);

Representatives of district water supply agencies (from areas affected by drought);

Ministry of Public Health: corresponding departments;

Representatives from Tajik Agrarian University;

Tajik Institute of Geology;

Representatives from nature protection non-government organizations; and

Representatives of mass media.

  1. The experts, as part of the ad-hoc working group, evaluate the extent of the impact of drought and on this basis, they make recommendations to the Deputy Prime Minister for approval of a Short Term Drought Management and Mitigation Plan. Government may also seek help from international organizations for humanitarian aid.
  2. In the document authored by Safarov et al (2006) the strategy presented 48 recommended actions to address drought management issues. Among these measures were included:

Development of state policy at national and regional levels on water resource allocation;

Strengthening of interdepartmental collaboration in drought forecasting and improvement of system of early drought notification;

Conducting regular trainings and development of clear mechanisms of interaction of local authorities and population during droughts; and

Establishment of Scientific Coordinating Board on Droughts.

  1. While both these recommendations contain a sensible approach to mitigating the impacts of drought, they do not specifically address the need to provide a rapid assessment and program of measures that allows proactive management of scarce water resources to optimum benefit of those affected by the drought. More work is needed in the preparation for a drought, making sure policies and strategies are in place in advance of the drought, and stakeholders are well briefed in advance on how they are expected to act.
  2. A key to the preparation phase is stakeholder involvement in the finalization of strategies to manage the drought, including agreeing priorities for access to scarce water and how the restrictions on water use (when needed) and be imposed and regulated.
  3. A further key aspect is the improvement of the advance identification of drought condition, and quantitative and reliable forecasts of drought severity, so that effective management of water resources can be agreed as early as possible. This will require detailed studies to build the necessary knowledge and tools.

Institutional Changes

  1. It is recommended that responsibility for drought management steps is assigned to a central Government body, working closely with the River Basin Organizations (including the Pyanj RBO) who would provide the technical expertise to diagnose drought conditions, advise on expected water resource availability and provide advice and recommendations to the overall management body.
  2. In the light of existing institutional responsibilities, it is logical that the national coordination responsibility should lie with the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources. The existing Drought Management Committee structure to oversee relief activities once drought conditions have been fully identified would provide effective cross-body coordination and provide the resources needed to manage the drought, but under the guidance of the MEWR. The Ministry of Agriculture has a very important role as agriculture is the major sector impacted by drought – but not the only sector as domestic water supply, the health and well-being of the population within the impacted areas are perhaps just as important to focus on and manage effectively. The inclusion of ALRI within the Drought Management Committee structure is also likely to be valuable as they have equipment in the field that can prove very useful in managing drought, and because of their role in managing irrigation water supplies.
  3. The RBO and local district and jamoat committees would provide local guidance, coordination and support.

Measures to Improve Drought Management

Procurement of Special Equipment

  1. The measures to improve water supply in times of drought would require special equipment and materials to implement. Therefore, procurement in preparation is needed for a range of materials which could include:

Drilling of wells to supplement groundwater abstractions;

Pumping equipment and temporary pipelines to transfer water to drought-impacted locations;

Tankers to transfer water to needy communities;

Portable water treatment facilities to make sure emergency additional water supplies are wholesome and potable; and

Emergency standpipes to be used where measures are needed to reduce urban water supplies.

  1. “Procurement” could also include purchase of such materials centrally and holding in storage for release to drought-impacted areas, or could include agreements with owners of such equipment that when needed in a drought this equipment will be provided immediately and at pre-agreed rates.

Understanding of Hydrology of Droughts

  1. More work is required on the analysis of hydrological and meteorological information to understand the range of conditions that can cause droughts within the basin, and how to most effectively anticipate when such circumstances are developing. This work would require extensive access to all available hydrometeorological data, and so would best be carried out within the Department of Hydrometeorology – perhaps with external expert assistance. The emphasis of such work should be:
  • Identifying patterns that have given rise to droughts in the past, and how such patterns can be identified at an early stage;
  • Developing modelling to allow quantitative predictions of the severity of drought early on in the development of the situation; and
  • Identifying key parameters that need to be observed closely to monitor the development of the drought.
  1. The interface between the science of drought forecast and the issue of warnings is important to manage effectively so that sufficient information is provided that ameliorative actions can be taken, but not too much information that promotes unnecessary alarm.

Warnings and Warning Dissemination

  1. Warnings about droughts should be focused on:

Providing information which can be used to take ameliorative actions;

To mobilize efforts to mitigate the impacts of drought – such as work to harness additional sources of water, or to regulate use of water during the period of shortage; and

Providing information to the public to advise on the need to conserve water, and take steps to avoid wasting water.

  1. Dissemination of drought warnings should be directed to target groups to provide information to bring about changes to conserve water use and to prepare for future shortages. Local communities should be central to managing the dissemination of information, and should be provided training so that they can perform this role effectively. Decisions about the release of warnings should be made by the appropriate drought management committee, using technical advice from specialists such as the Department of Hydrometeorology and the River Basin Organization.

Emergency Maintenance for Efficient Water Delivery

  1. In the early days of a drought it is important to carry out emergency maintenance on water supply systems to make sure the delivery efficiency is as high as possible. This applies equally to irrigation systems and domestic and industrial water supplies. When people are being asked to conserve water and manage with less water than usual, it is counter-productive to have the perception that water is still being wasted through system leakages and other water losses.
  2. The local ALRI and KMK offices should be provided with additional funding and materials to carry out such essential maintenance activity as soon as a drought is forecast.

Pastures and Rainfed Agriculture

  1. The most vulnerable sector to the impact of drought is rain-reliant agriculture production – including the pasture lands in the mountains. The FAO (2017) report suggested a range of measures needed to improve resilience of these areas, including:

Placing emphasis on crop and water management in these areas;

Improve agricultural extension services to these areas, providing more explicit and focused advice on improved water management and appropriate crop selection in these areas; and

Improve crop varieties including wheat that is more drought-resistant and could be sown in both winter and spring.

  1. There is also a need to improve the regulation and use of pasturelands and the numbers of livestock using the pasturelands to make sure such use is sustainable, and that provisions are made for climate conditions when the availability of these pasturelands is reduced by drought. How to manage livestock populations during a drought is an area that requires significant preparation and planning with local communities in order to avoid severe consequences when a drought occurs.
  2. It is noted that the FAO (2017) report states that a legislative framework for the transition from the unplanned and unregulated use of pasture resources to the implementation of systems that ensure their sustainable use by pasture users associations and other legal entities has been enacted by Parliament on 26 December 2012.

Roles of Communities in Drought Relief and Recovery

  1. Management of droughts and the impacts of droughts needs to be strongly supported by local communities as these are the organizations that can provide local knowledge of what is needed to mitigate the impacts of the drought, and can provide the man-power needed to deliver the support of the impacted communities. They can also provide the long-term support needed for the recovery from drought if appropriately supported.
  2. Drought relief actions will come in a number of stages. These will include:

Initial phase: warnings and preparations for the drought;

Efficiency of water use phase: prioritizing uses of water and conserving water in anticipation of drought and during drought;

Relief phase: assisting those impacted by water shortages: supplying water from alternative sources, provision of food to replace lost subsistence crops and the like;

Recovery phase: re-building after the drought – long-term food aid, seeds for planting for next season, cash compensation for lost livelihoods and the like.

  1. Community involvement in the targeting of scarce water resources during a drought is essential as local people alone can police such requirements and make sure neighbors follow the required behavior. Local communities can also identify inefficiencies in water supply systems and help improve delivery efficiency.
  2. The relief phase will be when the Committee of Emergency Situations and Civil Defence are active, and they will manage the relief efforts, working with local communities.
  3. The recovery phase is likely to be assisted by international humanitarian organizations for severe droughts, and these will have their established procedures for providing assistance for those impacted by the drought. Coordination of this work should be the responsibility of the local administration, working through local community organizations.


  1. The Program of Measures for the drought management plan have been identified as part of the Pyanj River Basin Management Plan (PRBMP). As a consequence, the measures identified in the following paragraphs are also identified in the PRBMP.
  2. The key output in the PRBMP pertinent to the drought management is within Output 4, “Protection from water-related disasters enhanced”. The proposed project is described in the table below.

Table 2: Proposed Drought Measures

Program of Measures:

4.4 Pilot Schemes for Improved Drought Management


Analysis of basin hydrology to identify signs of on-set of drought, and identification of potential drought mitigation measures. Establish pilot projects through the basin to implement effective drought management planning: developing effective forecasting systems and working with water users to inform them of potential water resources constraints in time for them to take effective mitigation measures. Work with water users to develop advice on mitigation measures and provide technical support and equipment in pilot areas to develop capacity to mitigate drought events.


USD 225,000



  1. Within the PRBMP are a number of measures that also contribute to improved drought management, although not necessarily as a direct output. Those measures within the overall RBMP that provide a significant contribution to improved drought management include:

Work to improve hydrological monitoring, and thus improve understanding of the hydrology of droughts, and their frequency in times of climate change. This includes in particular, work proposed as “Expansion of basin hydrological monitoring network”; “introduction of remote sensing technologies and hydrological modelling, including climate change”, and “establishment of flood and drought warning and mitigation systems”.

Work to strengthen capacity of ALRI and KMK and improve their ability to manage water resources in the basin, include improved planning procedures for water management in times of drought.

Improvements to the management and performance of irrigation systems, through “strengthening of I&D system planning” and “rehabilitation and modernization of prioritized I&D infrastructure”.

Measures to improve planning and performance of water supply and sanitation systems.

  1. Drought characteristics and management in Central Asia and Turkey. FAO Water Report Nr 44. Rome, 2017.

  2. National Drought Management and Mitigation Plan for Tajikistan. Safarov M.T., Kayumov A. К, Khomidov A.Sh on behalf of State Hydrometeorology Agency and State Nature and Forestry Protection Committee. 2006

  3. Republic of Tajikistan: National Disaster Risk Management Project. Project 52106-001