Improvement of Water Recourses Management in Zhambul Oblast of Kazakhstan through introduction of effective water use system

April 2014 – March 2015
Kazakhstan, Zhambul Oblast, Merke Rayon
Funding sources
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Republican State Enterprise KazVodKhoz
$ 80 000

The Merke district is located in the Zhambul region of Kazakhstan. The main source of irrigation water is the small transboundary river Aspara (Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan).

The area has more than 76,000 inhabitants. The effects of climate change are already visible in the region: a reduction in river flow, a longer duration of the hot season, and a short winter period, etc.

Agriculture is the main occupation of local people and a source of income. The main agricultural crops of the region are: Winter wheat - 11%; Sugar beet - 18%; Vegetables - 5%; Bakhchi - 1%; Corn for grain - 0.46%; Potatoes - 4%; Alfalfa - 39%; Gardens - 6%; Farmlands - 16%.

Agriculture in the area is highly dependent on irrigation. In addition to dry climatic conditions, the problems of the area are also:

·         lack of irrigation water during the irrigation season and, as a result, conflicts between neighbors;

  • general deterioration of irrigation systems and water intake facilities and, as a result, a high level of infiltration and evaporation;

  • there is no accounting for water consumption;

  • there are no watering schedules;

  • no knowledge of irrigation norms / agrotechnical needs for irrigation of different crops;

  • there is no knowledge and skills to use alternative, more efficient irrigation technologies.

The district has 2 irrigation canals (Maylybay and Asparinsky feed canal), which provide irrigation water to more than 6158 hectares of agricultural land.

According to the estimates of the local water management organization (Zhambyl branch of the Republican State Enterprise on the right of economic management), water loss in the canal ranges from 50% to 80%.

The most important issues of irrigated agriculture is water saving, the fight against its unproductive consumption and losses.

Overall objective: to improve water resources management, reduce water losses on the Mailybay Canal, the total length of which is 12.7 km, carrying capacity of 3.5 m3 / s, and the suspended area of 2,688 ha.

Specific objectives:

  • Reconstruction of the Mailybay Canal with a length of 12.7 km

  • Installation of water meters

  • Creation of a rational irrigation scheme taking into account the needs of crops and seasons

  • Conducting community education on the efficient use of water resources

  • Zhambul branch of State enterprise KazVodKhoz

  • Local population

  • Local community farms

The project reconstructed 15 gauging stations on the Mailybay inter-farm irrigation canal, installed innovative and unique electronic metering devices for the Central Asian region, and trained local communities in new approaches to effective management and conservation of water resources. The total length of the Mailybay channel is 12.7 km, the carrying capacity is 3.5 m3 / s, and the suspended area is 2,688 ha. This project helped to improve water management, reduce water losses on the Mailybay Canal by almost two times, and also reduced the acute social tensions between local residents, which was previously observed as a result of water shortages.

Project manager – Ekaterina Strikeleva


Tel.: +7 727 265 43 33 (ext. 275)