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UNECE helps Kyrgyzstan identify more efficient irrigation technologies

Published: 17 March 2015

The introduction of sprinkler or drip irrigation in place of surface irrigation could boost agricultural productivity in Kyrgyzstan — where the agriculture sector consumes some 90 per cent of available water resources — while significantly reducing water use. These preliminary findings of a study by experts hired by UNECE under the European Union Water Initiative were presented to the Steering Committee of the National Policy Dialogue on Integrated Water Resources Management of Kyrgyzstan today in Bishkek. The Steering Committee is searching for ways to increase water use efficiency in the agriculture sector.


The study on the best water-saving technologies for Kyrgyzstan, being authored by a group of national and international experts, looks at existing global practice that could have the biggest potential for the country. Currently, lands are farmed using surface irrigation, with water distributed to the surface of agricultural lands via a system of ditches, but the related water losses of such methods are around 50 per cent. The study examines the pros and cons of two alternatives — sprinkler irrigation and drip irrigation. Both involve big upfront investments, but help to save water resources and increase productivity. A pilot project on the use of drip irrigation instead of surface irrigation in neighboring Tajikistan led to the doubling of the production of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, while reducing water use by two to three times.


The water-saving study also recommends increasing the share of crops that need less water and produce higher economic value, such as fruits, vegetables and berries.


Over 40 representatives of different stakeholders and donors participated in the meeting and provided feedback on the study. At the next stage of the process, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will get involved in proposing suitable financing mechanisms that would allow Kyrgyz farmers to introduce new technologies, such as sprinkler or drip irrigation.


The meeting was attended by many international institutions and donors to ensure coordination of their activities in the water sector in Kyrgyzstan. Participating donors included the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Union, the Finnish Environmental Institute, the German Agency for International Cooperation, OECD, UNECE, UNDP and the World Bank.


Note to editors


National Policy Dialogues (NPDs) on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and Water Supply and Sanitation are the main operational instrument of the European Union Water Initiative Component for Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. UNECE is the strategic partner for support to the policy dialogue processes on IWRM.


NPDs are under way in the following countries of the region: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine.


For more information, please visit:


United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Palais des Nations, 

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 44 44

Fax: +41 (0) 22 917 05 05