According to recent reports, Uzbekistan is facing a looming water scarcity crisis. Predictions indicate a significant decline in available water resources, which is expected to exacerbate the current water shortage fivefold.
The convergence of a growing population and unfavorable climatic conditions has been identified as the primary cause of droughts in Uzbekistan. There appears to be a lack of awareness among the general population regarding water conservation and its significance.
To address the water crisis, the government has implemented various solutions, including the enhancement of irrigation infrastructure and the receipt of grants and subsidies from international organizations, which have played a pivotal role in sustaining the country’s economy. Despite receiving approximately $2 billion in donations for the Uzbekistan water sector over two years, the situation continues to deteriorate, with water losses and the condition of pumping systems showing no signs of improvement.
Moreover, Uzbekistan’s water resources are marred by outdated technology. The irrigation and drainage facilities need to be upgraded so that the country’s demand for freshwater can be tackled by 2035.
The introduction of Digital Twin technologies in the urban areas of Chirchik and Jizzakh marked a groundbreaking approach to water management. This initiative received financial backing from the US Trade and Development Agency, which provided grants to Uzbekistan’s national water company for conducting pilot tests on the project.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has granted Uzbekistan a financial package consisting of a $150 million loan and a $3 million grant to enhance food and water security in the country. Further, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) funded the restoration of the Yomonjar irrigation canal in Bukhara province in September 2020 through the construction of a barrier, reconstruction of outlets, and the concretization of the 32.5km-long canal bed, which benefitted 34,000 residents of Karakol and Alat districts.
Despite this, the water sector of Uzbekistan reports losses. The reason behind this might be that most of the funds were invested in providing water to the agricultural sector.