Climate Resilient WRM in the Zarafshan River Basin (iCH2O) (2023-2026)

November 2023 – November 2026
Funding sources
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC
CHF 523123
Thematic area
Water resources management
  • Switzerland

Water is a vital resource that underpins the sustainable development of Uzbekistan's economy. The country is characterized by a high dependence on transboundary waters, and the available water resources within the country are quite limited. Agriculture is the largest consumer of water in Uzbekistan, accounting for approximately 90% of water use and employing up to 27% of the working-age population. In the context of rapidly growing population (currently exceeding 35 million) and ambitious goals to increase economic growth by 50% in the next five years, competition among water resource users is likely to intensify.

Uzbekistan is highly vulnerable to climate change, with its consequences posing a serious threat to the well-being of the population and the country's sustainable development. Since 1938, there has been a steady increase in the average annual air temperature by 1.5°C and a decrease in the average annual precipitation. The most significant temperature increases have been observed in Karakalpakstan, Tashkent Region, and the Zeravshan Valley. Global circulation models (GCM) predict that the average annual air temperature in Uzbekistan and neighboring countries is likely to increase by up to 5°C by the end of the century. Consequently, water resources will decrease. The water deficit in the country, which was 2000 m3 in 2005, is projected to reach 7000 m3 by 2030 and 13000 m3 by 2050. This water deficit will impact the development of all sectors of the economy, including agriculture, which is expected to potentially reduce crop yields by 20-50% by 2050.

Undoubtedly, such changes pose significant risks to ensuring food security. Uzbekistan aims to develop along a climate-resilient path, and its national and global policies are aligned with this objective. The Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) reflects the country's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels. The Government of Uzbekistan has adopted the Green Economy Transition Strategy for 2019-2030, outlining the principles of transitioning to a green economy in all sectors of socio-economic development and including priorities for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Enhancing the climate resilience of vulnerable sectors is a priority, as evidenced by the ongoing development of the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) and sectoral development plans, such as the Water Sector Development Concept for 2020-2030 and its Strategy for 2021-2023. The Government of Uzbekistan recognizes the threats posed by climate change to water resources and emphasizes the need to incorporate these issues into key sectoral strategies and implementation programs.

Enhance the living conditions of the population by implementing climate change actions into integrated water resources management. 

  • Support for the "science-policy" dialogue and national climate policy support.

  • Support for a climate and water data collection and management system.

  • Climate-resilient integrated water resources management approach.

  • Strengthening the capacity and awareness of climate-resilient water resources management

The program will contribute to climate-resilient water resource management and enhanced awareness of current processes for the improvement and development of the water sector, enabling the Government of Uzbekistan to better prepare for climate change-related risks affecting water resource availability. The proposed program will complement the current national water resources management project (NWRMP) in Uzbekistan and the region, funded by Switzerland. The NWRMP, which supports the development of national legal and policy frameworks for integrated water resource management (IWRM), will in turn benefit from scientifically-based results and climate change impact data at the basin level, as well as from the demonstration of integrated and climate-resilient basin planning processes. The new program will focus on the Zeravshan River Basin (ZRB), with the possibility of scaling up to other basins. While the majority of activities will take place within the Uzbek territory of the ZRB (specifically in the Samarkand, Navoi, Jizzakh, Kashkadarya, and Bukhara regions), close collaboration and building a trustful dialogue with Tajikistan, located upstream in the ZRB, will be essential elements demonstrating the effectiveness of actions across the entire basin.