Irrigation rehabilitation supports peace in Southern Kyrgyzstan

from ACTED
Published on 17 Dec 2012 View Original

In November, ACTED completed construction on two irrigation projects in the South of Kyrgyzstan. Carried out in collaboration with the support of the American people through the U.S. Agency for International Development and the European Union, these activities were part of a national project ‘Conflict Mitigation and Peace Building in Kyrgyzstan’ implemented by the Transition and Rehabilitation Alliance for Southern Kyrgyzstan (TASK). TASK is a group of international and national NGOs advocating for a longer-term and coordinated action to address the underlying triggers and causes of conflict in the region. In October, ACTED staff visited the project site in Alai Rayon to meet with the communities affected by the project.

As Head of the 1st May village, Maktah has an important role to play in the canal rehabilitation project. While serving up generous portions of plov (a rice dice that is popular throughout Central Asia), Maktah explains how pleased he is that this project is near completion:

“Our village is the last on the canal, so before, all the water was used by the other villages and we had none. Now we will have access to this water, we know we will not run out. We are very grateful for this”.

Additionally, the upstream villages often pollute the water going downstream with rubbish or animal waste. The result is more economic potential for upstream villages and often disadvantaged downstream villages. Rehabilitating the canal system will not only provide irrigation water for four villages in the area, it will also ensure that the downstream villages have a more reliable access to water and consequently will reduce the potential for tension between these communities by ensuring a greater equality of access.

Orunbek represents a community group which plays a vital role in mobilising the community and liaising with the local government. Over their bowl of steaming rice, Orunbek and Maktah discuss the benefits this project will have for the people of their village and how they plan to take better care of the canal in the future. “We will look after it and keep the water flowing.There will be less conflict because there will be new sources of water. I believe it will help, it was so difficult before”, says Orunbek.

Maktah explains that while confidence in the local government had been low, the villagers of 1st May are very pleased with the local government’s active cooperation with national and international partners to bring support to the region.

Since meeting with Orunbek and Maktah, the rehabilitation of the canal system in Alai has been completed, along with another construction project in the Burgondu area of Nooken district. In this area, ACTED has built a pipeline which connects to a nearby functioning canal and ensures access to irrigation water for almost 2,000 households in seven villages.

These projects aim to reduce conflict over access to limited water resources, increase public confidence in the government and improve the community’s management of existing irrigation infrastructure while also contributing to the economic revitalisation of the region. Maktah believes in this action and in its potential to boost the recovery of the region, saying that “Everyone who has access to the new water will have greater opportunities.”

This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of ACTED and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.