Water is an essential component of the environment. It is a renewable, limited and vulnerable natural resource that ensures economic, social, and environmental well-being of the population, as well as the existence of flora and fauna.
Today, ensuring food and environmental security, as well as sustainable growth of the economy increasingly depends on effective management of available water resources. In this regard, taking into account existing problems in the water sector of the country and the need for a more efficient and sustainable water resources management, the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan decided to reform the water sector of Tajikistan in order to introduce more effective and sustainable institutional and legal mechanisms for water resources management.
Main goals and principles of the reform
The main goals:
1. Guaranteed supply for all water users with water;
2. Achieve economically efficient and environmentally sustainable management of water resources;
3. Improving water resources management through the full implementation of the basin and integrated water resources management (IWRM).
The main principles:
1. Transition to basin water resources management, based on the hydrological boundaries of river basins with establishment of basin and sub-basin organizations;
2. Equitable accounting of the needs of all water users in the management and distribution of water resources, i.e., implementation of integrated water resources management with particular emphasis on socio-economic development and improvement of people’s well-being, as well as proper coordination between all sectors of water users;
3. Separation of functions on water policy and regulation from operational and maintenance.
Water sector reform program
To implement the goals and principles of the water sector reform, the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan adopted the Water Sector Reform Program of the Republic of Tajikistan for the period of 2016-2025 by the Decree of December 30, 2015, No. 791.
The reform program describes the existing problems in the water sector, defines the goals and objectives of the reform, the mechanisms for implementing these goals and objectives, as well as the necessary financial resources for implementing the reform.
The program also contains an Action Plan for the implementation of water sector reform for the period of 2016-2025, which consists of four sections and 35 activities related to the development of legislation and regulation, institutional development, infrastructure rehabilitation and supporting measures for the water sector reform.
Basin water resources management
The basin water resources management in the Republic of Tajikistan will be implemented within the hydrographic boundaries of river basins, and associated groundwater bodies, in accordance with the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management.
To implement the basin water resources management, the river basins and associated groundwater bodies will be divided into basin zones as territorial water management units.
Basin zones will be the main units of water resources management and consist of river basins and associated underground water bodies in the territory of the Republic of Tajikistan.
Within the framework of the water sector reform, the Syrdarya Basin Zone, Zeravshan Basin Zone, Panj Basin Zone, Vakhsh Basin Zone, Kafarnihon Basin Zone will be established in the Republic of Tajikistan.
New institutional mechanisms of integrated water resources management
For the implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management, the water sector reform envisages the creation of new institutional mechanisms at the national and basin levels, such as a National Water Council, River Basin Organizations and River Basin Councils.
National Water Council
The National Water Council will be the highest consultative and advisory body under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, which will coordinate the activities of ministries, departments and other authorized governmental agencies in the planning, management, use and protection of water resources.
The National Water Council will include heads of ministries, departments and other state bodies responsible for the use and protection of water resources and involved in integrated water resources management process. The National Water Council may also include representatives of non-governmental organizations, individual experts, and experts in the field of water resources, environmental protection and economy.
River Basin Organizations
The River Basin Organizations and their subdivisions will be responsible for the basin water resources management, planning, and monitoring of the use of water resources, as well as the implementation of basin plans for water resources management in the basin zones and other related issues. In each of the five basin zones, a River Basin Organization will be established.
River Basin Councils
To promote effective water resources management and coordinate activities of all stakeholders, a River Basin Council will be established within each basin zone.
The River Basin Councils will include representatives of authorized state bodies in the field of regulation and protection of water resources, local executive bodies of the state authority, as well as representatives of water users, associations and other interested parties.
Basin plans for water resources management
As part of the water sector reform, the basin plans for water resources management will be developed for the Syrdarya, Zeravshan, Panj, Vakhsh and Kafernigan River Basins. The development and implementation of basin plans will enable River Basin Organizations to perform a comprehensive analysis and assessment of existing water management situations, as well as to plan the use of water and protection of water resources in the basin for the short, medium and long-term prospects.
Basin plans will include systemized materials on the conditions of water resources and their use and be the basis for implementing water management activities and measures to protect water resources within the boundaries of river basins.
Improvement of water legislation
Reforming the water sector requires transition to new forms of governance, the creation of new institutions and a drastic improvement of current legislation. Without the creation of a sustainable legal framework, implementation of these changes and effective implementation of water sector reform is impossible.
Improvement of the current legislation will be implemented through the introduction of changes and amendments to existing laws and regulations, as well as development of new laws and regulations.
Changes in existing legislation and development of new laws
In order to successfully implement the water sector reform, the Water Code of the Republic of Tajikistan in a new edition, the Law of the Republic of Tajikistan “On Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation” in a new edition and the Law of the Republic of Tajikistan “On Water Users Associations” in a new edition will be drafted and adopted taking into account the best international experience and future institutional changes in the water resources management. Also, relevant amendments will be made to the Regulations of state-authorized bodies in the field of use and protection of water resources.
In order to establish legal basis for land reclamation activities and determine the powers of central and local executive bodies of state authority and local authorities of settlements and villages to regulate relations in this sector, and to determine the rights and obligations of individuals and legal entities in the field of land reclamation, the Law of the Republic of Tajikistan “On Land Reclamation” will be drafted and adopted.
Rehabilitation of water infrastructure
In accordance with the Water Sector Reform Program of Tajikistan for the period of 2016-2025, in order to address the social issues of the rural population, as well as ensure development of drinking water supply and irrigated agriculture, rehabilitation of drinking water supply and irrigation facilities, it is planned to:
• Rehabilitate the drinking water supply and sanitation infrastructure;
• Implement an inventory of fixed assets of irrigation and drainage;
• Develop a Financing Plan for the rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure.
• Rehabilitate the irrigation infrastructure and improve its operating conditions.
Reform supporting measures
Improvement of the management system, transition to Integrated Water Resources Management within the river basins are the main objectives of the water sector reform, but without implementation of additional supporting measures, it will be challenging to ensure the success of the water sector reform.
In this regard, additional measures, such as strengthening the capacity of authorized state bodies on the use and protection of water resources, creation of a National Water Information System, international cooperation in the field of water resources, participation of water users and civil society in the use and protection of water resources, as well as participation of development partners and donors in the implementation of the reform program will be implemented to support the reform.
Participation of development partners in the implementation of the water sector reform program
The main partners in the implementation of the Water Sector Reform Program at the national and basin levels are the World Bank, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the European Union, and the Asian Development Bank.
Also, the United Nations Development Program, the United States Agency for International Development, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the German Society for International Cooperation, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Islamic Development Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and others are participating in the implementation of the Water Sector Reform Program.