Mobilizing local communities in response to climate change impact on farming systems

Local communities living in three different agro-ecological regions of Turkmenistan of Karakum (desert), Nohur (mountain) and Sakarchaga (Mary province oasis) have recently got together to learn  new knowledge and experience relating to climate change adaptation measures and discuss increasing climate change impact on water resources available to their agricultural and horticultural activities. A series of workshops focusing on this topic were held in each of the above regions from 21 June to 17 July 2013 with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The workshops were facilitated by the national experts and moderators, who were earlier trained for this purpose at UNDP-organized trainings.

In this comprehensive exercise, representatives of local authorities and members of local communities from each of the three regions, as well as water management experts from different public organizations of Turkmenistan learned best international practices of sustainable management of climate change risks and modern approaches to climate change adaptation. Combining the new knowledge and their own experience, the workshop participants were able to make assessments of vulnerability of the farming systems in Turkmenistan to climate change induced water scarcity and come up with their own plan of actions to address this problem.

“We covered very important issues related to climate change adaptation. Not only we learned local needs assessment techniques but also identified the most relevant, environmentally and economically sound adaptation measures that can be implemented in our region,” said Velmurat Akkoshekov, shepherd from the Karakum region. He basically referred to the challenge of water supply to livestock in the remote grasslands of the Karakum desert. According to him, sustainable grazing of animals requires restoration of traditional technologies for collection and storage of desert water from the natural basins during rainy seasons. This approach can save a lot of public funds to be spent on delivery of water by vehicles over considerable distances in the desert terrain.

The workshop participants also learned about methods of maintaining soil moisture by mulching and new types of fertilizers such as bio-humus and compost to increase efficiency of irrigation water, soil fertility and crop productivity. “Improvement of irrigation techniques and promotion of new innovative technologies should be continued in areas such as Nohur, where farmers mostly depend on water mudflows, temporary and permanent springs and streams and water pumped from the ground wells, some of which need reconstruction, said Abdylvahyp Halimberdiev, tenant from Nohur region. Tenants in our region need to practice more drip irrigation. This practice allows us to save more than 40% of irrigation water and improve the productivity of vegetable and fruit crops.”

The key outcome of the workshops was that stakeholders at the local level agreed that they should work collectively to address challenges relating to water scarcity in the context of climate change. It was acknowledged at the workshops that this effort requires greater involvement and strengthening the capacity of local communities.

In this context, the Government of Turkmenistan partners with UNDP within the framework of the project “Addressing climate change risks to farming systems in Turkmenistan at the national and community level.” The project is implemented by UNDP jointly with the Ministry of Nature Protection of Turkmenistan.

This project is the first such initiative in Turkmenistan that takes a comprehensive approach to water adaptation in the agricultural sector. The main objective of the project is to strengthen water management practices at both local and national levels in response to climate change-induced water scarcity risks that are increasingly affecting farming systems in Turkmenistan.

With the budget of nearly USD 3 million awarded to Turkmenistan as a grant from the Adaptation Fund, the UNDP project is also supporting the work on strengthening the national water legislation and pricing to ensure water availability for the non-state sector farmers.

Turkmenistan is the first country of CIS countries and among the first countries in the world to receive funding on competitive basis from the Adaptation Fund. The Adaptation Fund was established within the framework of the Kyoto protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1997 with primary goal to finance projects and programs aimed at helping developing countries to adapt to the harmful effects of climate change. Turkmenistan is signatory and an active participant of the Framework Convention.

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