DUSHNBE, October 11, Asia-Plus -- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is funding a flood risk management system for one of the most flood-affected regions of Tajikistan, the Khatlon province situated southwest of the country.

Tajikistan is prone to frequent natural disasters because of its terrain and climate. Floods are particularly severe disaster risks because of the mountainous nature of the country.  

Tatiana Yevstifeyeva, information officer, ADB Mission to Tajikistan, said that the Khatlon Province Flood Risk Management Project would address recurring flood risks in four districts in the province through a comprehensive and coordinated approach. A major part of the project is the rehabilitation of 8.3 kilometers of flood protection embankment along Panj River, which borders Tajikistan and neighboring Afghanistan. Assuming that a medium level of maintenance is achieved, the proposed embankment can protect against floods at the probability of once in 100 years.

The project will also develop and disseminate a flood risk map, strengthen flood warning systems, draw up a flood preparedness and evacuation plan, and strengthen flood forecasting capacity by rehabilitating the country’s hydrometeorological network. The project will also help the government define and implement policy reforms needed to improve flood preparedness and remove some of its persistent operation and maintenance funding constraints for flood levees and riverbank protection works.

The assistance will also strengthen the capacity of Tajikistan’s Ministry of Land Reclamation and Water Resources and the local government bodies to manage flood disaster risks.

ADB will provide a $22 million loan to support the project, which has a total estimated cost of $28.5 million. The balance will be covered by the Government of Tajikistan.

The project area has some of the most productive agricultural lands in Tajikistan. Cotton, the key agricultural export commodity of the country, is grown in 53% of the farm land in the project area, which in turn accounts for 32% of the country’s total cotton area.

But the project area is vulnerable to floods as the Khatlon province contains most of the low-lying flat land in Tajikistan. The population density of the province is high and predominantly rural. The population of the project area itself is 583,700, only 20% of whom were employed in 2005, mainly in the agricultural sector.

The government has given the highest priority to the immediate improvement of flood protection facilities in the Khatlon province.  By putting in place modern flood protection, the government expects to substantially reduce funding requirements for operation and maintenance.