Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Projects in Tajikistan: Experience and Lessons Learned1

KUST, Germana,, MOTT, Jessicab, JAIN, Nanditac, SAMPATH, Thirumangalam d and AMSTRONG, Angelae

a World Bank/Sustainable Development Dept., ECA Region, Washington D.C., USA. E-mail: b World Bank/Sustainable Development Dept., ECA Region, Washington D.C., USA. E-mail: cWorld Bank/Sustainable Development Dept., ECA Region, Washington D.C., USA. E-mail: dWorld Bank/Sustainable Development Dept., ECA Region, Washington D.C., USA. E-mail: eWorld Bank/Sustainable Development Dept., ECA Region, Washington D.C., USA. E-mail:

Abstract — Three cross-linked projects with SLM component have been/are implemented/ in Tajikistan : Community Agriculture and Watershed Management Project (CAWMP): 2004 – 2012; Land Registration and Cadastral System for Sustainable Agriculture Project (LRCSP): 2005-2014; and Environmental Land Management and Rural Livelihoods Project (ELMARL): proposed for 2013-2017. CAWMP and ELMARL have a Global Environmental Facility (GEF) supported component. The projects’ SLM policy is successive, although different projects cover diverse directions of agricultural development: community actions and participatory capacities building, peculiarities of land privatization and fragmentation, and climate change adaptation. The synergy of the projects environmental results appears in: Awareness raising in environmental risks assessment, application of environmentally and economically effective technologies in farm production; Experience in water- , soil- and energy-saving technologies in rural areas; Improvement of sanitary and ecologic conditions in villages; Rehabilitation of degraded lands (incl. irrigated) and increase of soils fertility; Rehabilitation and access to pastures; Fixing erosion on slope lands by woodlots, horticulture, haying, etc. Lessons learned for further results development are the following. Negative: Low skills of project environmental stuff, Weak contacts with governmental stakeholders responsible for environmental issues, Lack of information sharing and low use of Web opportunities, Weak integration with other projects and donors. Positive: Growth of level of national environmental Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), High effectiveness of local small interventions (bottom-up) in comparison with national-level activities (top-down), Replicability and sustainabilty of environmentally sound activities, Increasing attention to pastures as an important natural resource, Rising possibilities and capacities to space imagery use.

Keywords — sustainable land management, World Bank, international projects, best practice

1  Introduction

World Bank (WB) is a large organization, sees itself as a knowledge bank, and allocates resources to capacity building and knowledge management. It has thematic areas, communities of practice, is a GEF Implementing Agency, participates in a number of global and regional efforts in knowledge management and sharing related to SLM.

World Bank secures funding for SLM through its Rural Land Resources Management (LRM) Program which develops and promotes knowledge-based technical, social, institutional and policy choices which focus on: Developing sustainable land management through improved land tenure systems and community natural resources management; Raising the profile of the risk and vulnerability impacts of climate change on communities’ natural resources, (land/water) and promote appropriate adaptation mechanisms; Mainstreaming of integrated approaches to Land and Water resources management for food security and poverty reduction; Creating and strengthening an enabling environment, which will enhance national, regional, and global capacities to implement the convention to combat desertification and restore degraded lands.

SLM has been defined by WB as a knowledge-based process that helps integrate land, water, biodiversity, and environmental management (including input and output externalities) to meet rising food and fiber demands while sustaining ecosystem services and livelihoods.

SLM Projects in Tajikistan described here are: Community Agriculture and Watershed Management Project (CAWMP): 2004 - 2012; USD 16,75 mln (GEF LD: USD 4,5 mln); Land Registration and Cadastral System for Sustainable Agriculture Project (LRCSP): 2005-2013; USD 10,6 mln plus extension to to 2015 with USD 10,0 mln; Environmental Land Management and Rural Livelihoods Project (ELMARL): proposed for 2013-2017 (PPCR USD 9.45 mln and GEF LD USD 5.4 mln, USD 1.75 mln from local communities = USD 16.6 mln ).

The cross-cutting issues of the projects are: Land degradation and land management; Water resources (irrigation and drinking water supply); Energy efficiency, alternatives; Climate change vulnerability and adaptation; Poverty and people livelihoods, farm productivity; Mountains ecosystems: globally important biodiversity and natural habitats; Deforestation, forest degradation; Rangelands (overgrazing, access to, carrying capacity)

2  Basics environmental and social issues and facts

2.1  Land degradation

Most of the 2.5 m ha agricultural land they farm is pasture, only 206,000 ha were in perennial crops and orchards, and there were few significant irrigation systems. Rural poverty, shifts in land management responsibilities, lack of integrated land management, inappropriate agriculture, and poor access to technical support are causing increasing land degradation. About twenty percent of the population live in hilly and mountain areas where access to most government services is limited. Much of the population is using steep hillsides to grow cereal crops. In turn, land degradation contributes to further impoverishment through mudslides (ruining villages, roads and farmland, and irrigation and water systems), soil-erosion (undermining agricultural productivity) and silting of waterways used for drinking water and irrigation. However, highlands had good productive potential if appropriately farmed.

2.2  Mountain ecosystems

Tajikistan has globally important mountain ecosystems with diverse flora and fauna, including many of economic importance, and under threat. Pastures, for example, hosted over 3000 plant species, but face threats from localized over-grazing. The wild-growing fruit plants of Tajikistan represente a unique genetic resource for agriculture. The mountain areas of southern and south-eastern Tajikistan are the major regions for conservation of wild-growing fruits (apples, pears, apricots, mulberries, cherry plums and plums, among others), nuts (walnuts and almonds), grapes and berries (currants, sea-buckthorn berries). Forest areas, which covered only 3 per cent of the country’s territory, decreased by about 15 per cent due to the need for firewood.

2.3  Farm privatization

Officially, some 55 per cent of all arable land had been converted into lease farms, joint stock companies and family farms. However, in lowland cotton growing areas, farmers were still not free to make their own management decisions, while in highlands they lacked the capital needed to exploit productive potential. Furthermore, there are also large tracts of pasture, formerly under the control of state farms, which are under the control of Jamoats (multivillages committees). These pastures faced problems of inadequate maintenance as well as arbitrary and inequitable access to grazing rights and land use.

Figure 1: Location of 4 project watersheds in Tajikistan

2.4  Climate change and vulnerability

Climate variability and change are likely to pose additional and significant risks, particularly for those pursuing subsistence agriculture or pastoralism, and only reinforce the need to follow sound land resource management principles. Climate projections suggest Tajikistan will experience higher temperatures, reduced rainfall and higher evapotranspiration with an increased frequency of extreme events. These changes will lead to impacts, such as fluctuations in the hydrological cycle - especially from glacial retreat and flash floods - with downstream consequences nationally and regionally for agro-ecosystems and water resources.

Bank-financed projects within Tajikistan had already established culturally-appropriate, community-managed models for:

  1. allocation of land use rights in ways which ensure transparency, with participation of the community in the allocation of parcels, legitimacy (through involvement of traditional local institutions), conflict management, and land tenure security;
  2. management of investments in irrigation infrastructure and their subsequent operation through Water User’s Associations;
  3. establishment of efficient technology transfer mechanisms through Farmer Information and Advisory Services, and
  4. establishment of a credit mechanism for seasonal agricultural needs through revolving funds via Non-Banking Financing Organizations.

In addition, the Bank is applying best practices and lessons developed by international NGOs and donors, such as the Agha Khan Foundation (AKF), UNDP, USAID, GIZ, DFID, German Agro Action (GAA), and others.

3  Community agriculture and watershed management (2004-2012)

Rural Production Investments included the following categories of activities. Farm Productivity Improvement: Individuals, and groups of farming households, invested in productivity enhancing activities of their choice, most of which provided immediate income. Investments could include inputs for annual crops, horticulture, livestock, processing, distribution, leasing, and credit facilities.

Land Resource Management: This subcomponent enabled local people to adopt more sustainable use of fragile lands, and provided land use certificates after three years of maintenance, subject to continued good land use. The combination of appropriate income-generating investments with soil conservation proposed to enhance the organic content of soil and create incentives for sustainable land use by better addressing interests of local people. Groups of households working on contiguous areas could make long-term investments such as horticulture, woodlots, or fodder, combined with soil and moisture management structures. Blended financing from GEF almost quadrupled the land area covered beyond the level that could be supported by the government on purely national grounds.

Rural Infrastructure: Investments to rehabilitate rural infrastructure were made to community groups. Typical investments complimented agriculture and land resource management subprojects, were small scale (about USD 4800 on average), and included drinking water, small irrigation, access track rehabilitation, and small power generation.

The project location in 4 watersheds (Zarafshon, Surkhob, Toirsu and Vanj) is shown in figure 1.

3.1  Groups of SLM in CAWMP

In CAWMP all SLM activities (subprojects/technologies) can be combined into 7 groups with similar environmental effect for environmental monitoring and impact assessment purposes:

  1. Farming and horticulture on irrigated plain lands,
  2. Farming and horticulture on slopes (incl. irrigated and rainfed lands),
  3. Agroforestry,
  4. Rangelands management and livestock,
  5. Beekeeping
  6. Local processing and handicrafts, water- and energy-saving technologies, improvement of drinking water supply, mills, iron works, refrigerators, poultry,
  7. Irrigation systems, rehabilitation of irrigation canals, construction of small dams, bridges, roads, pipelines.

3.2  Eligibility criteria for CAWMP subprojects

Eligibility criteria for subprojects included meeting at least one of the following impacts on fragile lands:

  • Prevent/reduce soil erosion,
  • Increase vegetative cover through perennial crops and pasture,
  • Provide soil and moisture conservation,
  • Improve soil quality,
  • Improve water use efficiency,
  • Increase sustainable fodder/wood supply,
  • Increase sustainable renewable energy supply,
  • Increase integrated pest management.

These criteria ensured an environmental focus, and kept the grant proposals consistent with a list of eligible activities which is critical for a large-scale, community-driven project. The criteria helped avoid diversion of grant funds to investments not directly related to land sustainability. Combining income-generating investments with environmental criteria encouraged sustainable land use by addressing vital interests of local people. The criteria were used also to monitor local environmental impacts.

3.3  Ideas/methods/messages from CAWMP/LRCSP (incomplete list) for SLM

Soil conservation approaches and measures are very different and can be combined in the following technologies mainly oriented on the improvement of soil fertility and prevention of desertification and deterioration:

  • terracing of steep slopes with further planting of orchards, woodlots, vineyards according relevant environmental and marketing conditions,
  • composting and "organic farming";
  • multicropping and intercropping;
  • crop rotation;
  • integrated pest management with biological methods application;
  • river banks and canals protection with gabions and planting trees and bushes;
  • drainage rehabilitation in the salt-affected areas.

Energy savings and alternative energy sources that prevent cutting trees and use of manure for fuel:

  • springs as natural refrigerators,
  • solar energy for heating and drying (incl. fruits),
  • water mills and pumps,
  • small hydropower stations.
Figure 2: Stabilization of slopes and haymaking
Figure 3: Fixing gullies
Figure 4: Terracing for horticulture
Figure 5: Cleaning field from stones
Figure 6: Contour planting of nut and fruit trees for stabilization of slopes
Figure 7: Drip irrigation and soil surface mulching for horticulture
Table 1: Number and Variety of Subprojects
Subprojects categorized by main activities:NumberUSDMeasureTotal amountArea covered, ha
Bee-keeping159288584Bee hives2584 
Livestock development (purchasing livestock)510679197heads6433 
Yak breeding410573heads40 
Poultry farming99136920heads11324 
Annual crops157278332ha495495
Plant nursery1417242ha66
Potato production2742755ha2424
Small enterprises foragricultural processing140209166   
Drinking water for livestock1326281ha70487048
Drinking water supply170450364m67791 
Terracing of slopes and planting trees79142699ha278278
Wool processing57946   
Rehab and opening the road to pasture171359677ha3363633636
Repair of pump stations722084ha444444
River banks protection3285074ha15081508
Repair and built of small bridge56140305m8424050
Rehabilitation of small hydropower stations2441719kWt189 
Repair of electric transformer25107   
Canal rehabilitation and repairing for irrigation217607241m196461250
Drainage rehabilitation714771km5340
Use of solar energy54026kWt8 
Cattle pen building and repairing3067791m21788521250
Stones removing for horticulture28000ha44
Pasture improvement152455135ha2306123061
Planting of herbs69949ha5757
Building of small dams for small water reservoirs12812m3125 
TOTAL 36757115589  96631

Pasture (rangelands) rehabilitation and improvement technologies and approaches includes separately or integrated in different cases the following measures:

  • pasture rotation;
  • creation of watering/drinking ponds for animals;
  • breeding of more effective and adaptive livestock (yaks, special kinds of sheep) and poultry (turkey);
  • sowing of substantial grasses (alfa-alfa, sainfoin, izen, teresken);
  • rehabilitation and building of shelters for animals (kosharas, cattle pens);
  • rehabilitation of access to pastures (roads and bridges);
  • planting of shelterbelts;
  • building of fences and obstructions for animals;
  • veterinary service support;
  • fodder supply.

In general these approaches decrease the overgrazing, limit the animal pressure, and improve soil quality and the risk of soil erosion and mudflows.

Figure 8: Pasture improvement by growing productive plants on degraded soils (Izen – Kochia)
Figure 9: Cattle pen on the road to summer pastures
Figure 10: Trees nursery
Figure 11: River bank protection

Water saving technologies prevent soil water erosion in uplands and salinization of the irrigated lands in the valleys. Separately or integrated includes the following activities:

  1. drip irrigation (including primitive hand-made forms), especially for fruit trees, vineyards and vegetables;
  2. screening of canals and furrows with film or plastic grooves preventing ineffective infiltration and loss of water;
  3. tubing and pumping of irrigation water flows;
  4. building of small ponds and water reservoirs;
  5. soil moisture preservation, including mulching of soil surface, creation of special obstructions around trees, special technologies for the preparation of planting holes, snow retention;
  6. integrated approach for effective use of water resources on different soils and for different plants.

3.4  What does CAWMP have to offer for SLM, KM and DS?


  1. CAWMP is the first project in Tajikistan to attempt mainstreaming SLM into rural production, innovator on several fronts (partnerships, fund flow and management, participatory decision-making);
  2. there is much to share from CAWMP and dissemination for practitioners, agencies, projects working in SLM, agriculture and NRM, e.g., Bank wrap-up meetings involved all implementing partners, and
  3. project-site exchanges, farmer "good practice" competitions with follow-up workshops, facilitating organization led exchanges, dissemination strategy and activities.


  1. knowledge management is still nascent, language barriers limit access, lessons learnt and project documents need organization and systemization , e.g. basic data on all investments, data on environmental aspects impacts, reporting on environmental impacts into overall national and global database, etc.

Fund flow and management innovations: Decades of World Bank international operational experience has shown that top- down land use planning and/or top-down technical prescriptions can encounter problems such as:

  1. investment selection that is inappropriate because it does not fully take into account local environmental or social and economic conditions, constraints, and risks;
  2. lack of local stakeholder ownership and sustainability;
  3. high and sometimes wasteful transaction costs that do not result in meaningful and sustainable implementation of field-level or policy improvements.

It was therefore very important to address issues such as:

  1. the incentive framework,
  2. the participatory framework (with an understanding of the power relationships and dynamics) for planning, implementation, and monitoring,
  3. realistic considerations of factors affecting post-investment sustainability,
  4. transaction costs, cost effectiveness/efficiency,
  5. realistic results targets, assessment process, and learning culture for on-going participatory problem solving and improvement.

By focusing on highland areas the focus was on the poorest experiencing the most severe land degradation - but complementing existing lowland area initiatives. Rather than working solely with village-level institutions - the Project strengthened Jamoat-level institutions to better coordinated community initiatives. The design of the institutional structure and sub-granting mechanisms clearly demonstrated a participatory approach whereby the ideas came from individuals - and the CIGs were instrumental in bringing together people and ideas. This was in contrast to the past where most activities focused on humanitarian aid rather than support for rural agricultural production - which was a foreign concept for local people. Ultimately, changing this perception and attitude became one of the more important challenges at implementation.

Granting funds from the bottom-up was also considered a better model than the previous top-down approaches - where the record of such investments was uncertain.

Training should be timely and appropriate. Training as a prerequisite before investment was integral to sustainability - since local knowledge contained gaps in more modern and environmentally-sustainable techniques.

Long term sustainability requires community involvement early on and full awareness of the level of operating expenses that will be required to maintain the investment. Participation by and consultation of local communities and individuals at the outset better ensured the financial sustainability of investments. The financial management aspect of farm and rural investments was part of the initial training package to precede investment.

All stakeholders need to be included. Project preparation activities involved all key stakeholders: national, raion and Jamoat level authorities; NGOs; local communities including village elders, farmers, livestock owners, and women. Key stakeholders who would be involved directly in the Project include village leaders and village members, women, local government representatives, technical staff of the line ministries located primarily at the raion level, and staff of the PIUs and existing PMU at the central level. NGOs would provide technical assistance during the facilitation and proposal development phase at the village level and JDCs would act as decision-makers and comprise of elected officials from the communities.

3.5  How to streamline SLM: 2 possible ways

First way: CAWMP is directly SLM oriented project. Nevertheless not every NRM and LM activity is sustainable. Although small farmers are intended to be the basement for the agricultural sector in Tajikistan, the main problems for such farmers are low skills in the sustainable environmental land and water management and weak management of complicated agroecosystem. We observe a few example of unsustainable LM (misuse of irrigation water, increase of the risk of mudflows and soil erosion, overgrazing, etc.). Several basements are necessary in SLM oriented projects to mitigate risks: Eligibility indicators, M&E indicators, outcomes and outputs indicators.

Second way: not all projects are directly SLM oriented: LRCSP is not a SLM project, but provided risks for SLM as a result of land passed into ownership of users with low environmental skills and responsibilities. Training on integrated environmental and sustainable land management for new users and governmental responsible officers is quite necessary

4  Land registration and cadastre systems for sustainable agriculture (2005-2013)

Project Development Objective is to expand farmland restructuring to enable more rural people to become independent farmers and take management decisions in response to market forces and to initiate the strengthening of tenure rights and services for other land users. Findings from the earlier Bank’s projects in Tajikistan and other countries indicate that improving farmers’ tenure security and ability to make farm management decisions has a positive impact on land and soil management and therefore on the environment in general. On the other hand, based on experience to date, new farmers and land users are generally not aware of sustainable agricultural approaches and methodologies or environmental safety. Therefore farmers might not anticipate the possible negative effects (e.g., on soils) associated with their agricultural practices (-e.g., overexploitation of soils without crop rotation, weak usage of organic fertilizers, salinization of irrigated lands in flat areas, soil compaction and loss of soil structure, etc.). This poses some environmental risk and could cause unfavorable changes in land quality, including soil erosion, reduction of organic matter in soil, and land degradation. Farmers should monitor for possible changes with clear and simple indicators (e.g., changes in soil structure, soil organic content and others) in restored and rehabilitated lands. To stipulate proper on-farm water management the subcomponent supporting establishing of WUAs (water users associations) with small irrigation investments has been also included.

4.1  Trainings on the base of the "good farmers practices" identified

Challenges realized from the CAWMP:

  1. demoplots organized by academic institutes have limited capacities. Experienced farmers have more successful stories to disseminate, and should be studied by academic scientists and relevant NGOs for further application and knowledge management, and
  2. it is impossible to train all local farmers, and the accent should be addressed to the governmental officials at the raion level responsible for land, water and environmental monitoring and control, and key representatives of WUAs and local NGOs, for further training and control of local farmers.

Practical approach includes four basic stages:

  1. identification and assessment of the best practice farm sites to determine the best (least hazardous) soil improvement and pest management techniques under different agro-climatic conditions,
  2. mobilization of farmers through awards for best practices,
  3. training of trainers program (and use of best practice sites as training plots) for local environmental, agricultural and land officers, NGO technical specialists, water user associations, and others, and
  4. preparation and publication of an illustrated album on dehkan farms environmental land management methods for dissemination and trainings.

Trainings focus on learning through agro-ecosystem analysis and discussions, field visits to existing examples of good and bad practices, and mass media campaigns. The aim of training is to strengthen the ability of local agricultural, environmental, land and water officers and specialists to identify environmental risks and determine the sustainability of farmland under different agro-climatic and soil conditions and under different methods of land use and crops. The training enables officials to identify pests, determine damage thresholds, make prudent control decisions, and safely and cost-effectively control land degradation and pests.

Through this subcomponent, the project improves institutional and human capacity, promotes sustainable agricultural technology transfer and adoption, enables the integration of scientific and traditional knowledge, and promotes informed decision-making to solve local problems. Based on best practice, the subcomponent improves communication between research institutions, farmers, and extension agents and promotes the adoption of promising methods generated by farmers with scientific support

Total number of farmers participated in the beat farmers competition organized in 36 raions was 495 households, among which 108 have been selected as a demoplots with awarding, and 782 of specialists have passed environmental trainings

4.2  Lessons learned for further results development


  • low skills of project environmental stuff;
  • weak contacts with governmental stakeholders responsible for environmental issues;
  • lack of information sharing and low use of Web opportunities, and
  • weak integration with other projects and donors,


  • growth of level of national environmental NGOs;
  • high effectiveness of local small interventions (bottom-up) in comparison with national-level activities (top-down);
  • replicability and sustainabilty of environmentally sound activities;
  • increasing attention to pastures as an important natural resource, and
  • rising possibilities and capacities to space imagery use.

5  Environmental land management and rural livelihood project: 2013-2017

5.1  Pilot Program for Climate Resilience

Tajikistan is one of the 12 countries and regions participating in the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) supported by Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs): World Bank (WB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Asian Development Bank (ADB). The PPCR contributes to opportunities for Tajikistan to pilot critical approaches and measures in order to integrate climate resilience into its overall development strategies and planning.

5.2  ELMARL-GREAT collaboration

The GIZ/DFID GREAT (Growth in the Rural Economy and Agriculture) programme is supporting sustainable economic growth in rural areas and has strong synergies with the combined PPCR/GEF financed operation, since their programmes will support sustainable land management, as well as strengthen market development and provide other capacity building that would help the PPCR/GEF- supported producers.

The overall Project Development Objective (PDO) and Global Environmental Objective (GEO) is to enable rural people to build their productive assets in ways that sustainably improve natural resource management and build resilience to climate change in selected climate vulnerable sites.

The proposed project would comprise two components implemented over five years: Rural Production and Land Resource Management Investments; Knowledge Management. Project sites would comprise districts in three different agro-ecological zones - uplands, hill lands and lowlands

Peculiarities: Nationally implemented and managed; Executive agency: Committee for Environmental Protection (small experience, but provides more environmentally oriented activities); To rise incentives beneficiaries had to contribute their own resources in the form of labor, material and cash, for at least 20% of the total value of any investment under component 1.

Component 1: “Rural Production and Land Resource Management Investments” includes three types of activities:

  1. "Sustainable village-based rural production and land resource management" aims to promote the adoption of innovative rural production and land management measures, by providing small-scale grants at the village level to help rural livelihoods become more resilient to climate change in selected vulnerable districts. Prior to village level planning, participatory jamoat-level environmental analyses would be conducted to help beneficiaries assess and understand the extent of resources, threats and impacts and the relationships between these factors. Similarly, jamoat-level assessments of community-based adaptation to climate change would be prepared. These assessments will enable participants to factor in the potential impact of climate change on livelihoods and vulnerability to disasters by using local and scientific knowledge (where available) of climate change and its likely effects. Local knowledge would include information about trends and changes experienced by communities themselves and strategies these communities have used in the past to cope with similar shocks or gradual climatic changes.
  2. “Larger-scale initiatives in sustainable community land management (pastures and water use)”. Certain natural resource issues are better addressed at scales beyond the village. Of particular concern, to both sustainable land management and productive rural livelihoods in the context of climate change, are pasture management and on-farm water management. While pasture degradation and access are pressing issues in both lowland and upland areas, the consequences of poor water management are especially critical in lowland areas where agriculture depends primarily on irrigation. Comprehensive pasture and fodder assessments and evaluation of the feed/fodder balances would be carried out to inform plan development in eight selected jamoats. The plan would define:
    1. measures to improve pasture productivity, such as rotational grazing, protecting areas for regeneration, pasture rehabilitation, improving access to remote pastures, and needs for supplementary fodder production;
    2. grazing utilization levels;
    3. animal health requirements and breed improvement measures;
    4. investment needs; and
    5. implementation responsibilities, targets and indicators.

Through on-farm water management in lowland areas existing Water User Associations (WUAs) and dekhan farmers would be supported to introduce, test and demonstrate practices that could contribute to improving on-farm water management and efficiency, maintain soil quality and reduce land degradation, and increase resilience to climate change. An action plan would be prepared by the WUA with the support of locally-based NGOs, and jamoat agronomists and environment officers. Soil and irrigation water quality tests would be carried out along with an assessment of cropping patterns and productivity to provide information for the plan. The action plan would propose water saving and soil conservation technologies that could improve water use efficiency such as improved leveling and drip irrigation, reduce salinity, protect soil such as conservation agriculture and tree-planting, and improve soil fertility such as inclusion of legumes in the rotation or composting.

Component 2: “Knowledge Management and Institutional Support” will provide facilitation services and technical support for rural populations to plan, implement and manage rural investments. Relevant data collection and analysis, and information exchange for wider adoption of sustainable land management will also be supported. A comprehensive training, analysis, dissemination and networking program will be instituted to improve skills and knowledge in key topics such as environmental assessment and monitoring; integrated land, water and grazing management; integrated pest management (IPM); pollution control; and climate change adaptation. The project will support analytical work on topics that include soil quality and extent of land degradation, market development and access, grazing management and livestock production, potential incentive policies for sustainable land management practices, and changes in productivity and environmental conditions resulting from technological change, etc. The aim is to provide guidance for the design and sustainability of rural investments both within and beyond the project. Dissemination will be supported through a focus on exchange and learning between project sites and with similar initiatives, including farmer-to-farmer exchanges and best farmer practice competitions, plus sharing results and lessons learned with national and regional stakeholders. Contracted trainers, NGOs, and specialists will carry out programs at farmer, community, local government and management level by. Support will also be included for project evaluation, including assessments at project mid-term and completion.

The ELMARL design took into account experience from CAWMP and LRCSP projects as well as lessons learnt from other donors, such as DFID, GIZ, Aga Khan Foundation, UNDP, Caritas , Helvetas, and others:

  • smaller farming units with tenure security and having freedom to farm independently of government mandates can contribute to increasing the adaptive capacities of farmers. Such farming units made more investments and adopted more environmental management practices than large collective farms.
  • direct investment support to farmers through a systematic small grants program, coupled with facilitation and training can build entrepreneurial capacity through a learning-by-doing approach. Farmers can assume responsibility for sustaining their livelihoods in financially and environmentally sound ways.
  • fixed budgets with limits on funds available for each type of rural production investment, village and, household are effective ways for villagers to allocate resources. Such mechanisms can foster prioritization of investments by cost-effectiveness and risk. Combined with participatory planning, they can also support even wider distribution of project financing than expected.
  • a multi-stakeholder approach to project implementation with partnerships between government and civil society is worthwhile even in contexts where limited prior experience and local conditions make management challenging. Such approaches can improve project transparency and accountability, increase respect for partners’ strengths, and provide new learning opportunities for project participants.
  • identifying and highlighting innovative farmers is an effective way to encourage replication since these farmers demonstrate technologies that are adapted appropriately to local climatic and other conditions.

6  Policy oriented recommendations

The experience of SLM oriented WB’s projects in Tajikistan has provided a number of effective approaches to define and select the most suitable examples and technologies for environmental land management, preventing land degradation and increasing adaptation in conformity with improvement of rural people livelihoods in poorest countries.

7  Conclusion

The WB projects’ SLM policy is successive, although different projects cover diverse directions of agricultural development: community actions and participatory capacities building, peculiarities of land privatization and fragmentation, and climate change adaptation.

The synergy of the projects environmental results appears in:

  • awareness raising and knowledge management in environmental risks assessment, application of environmentally and economically effective technologies in farm production;
  • experience in water- , soil- and energy-saving technologies in rural areas;
  • improvement of sanitary and ecologic conditions in villages;
  • rehabilitation of degraded lands (incl. irrigated) and increase of soils fertility;
  • afforestation and alternative timber sources from woodlots.
  • rehabilitation of pastures and access to;
  • fixing erosion on slope lands by woodlots, horticulture, haying, etc.;
  • energy savings and alternative sources;
  • on-farm irrigation and water management;
  • watershed and pasture management;
  • poverty reduction.


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This article is based on a presentation given during the UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference on "Economic assessment of desertification, sustainable land management and resilience of arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas", held 9-12 April 2013 in Bonn, Germany (