Improving water-sector sustainability in Tajikistan

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Despite recent reforms and infrastructure investment, Tajikistan’s public utilities remain inefficient due to underinvestment, high losses and weak governance. Twenty-six per cent of the population lacks access to basic drinking water and sanitation services, making Tajikistan the least connected economy in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) regions. Only one in three rural households has access to safe drinking water. The sector needs significant investment; a substantial part of the water network is in poor condition and few repairs have been undertaken on sewer networks and facilities outside the three major cities. There are also opportunities for greater financial and operational efficiencies.

How we work

For more than 15 years, the ERBD has been providing financing and institutional support to the Tajik water sector. It has financed the construction and repair of water and wastewater infrastructure, including pumping stations, water plants, meters and pipes, in 23 cities across the country. In the city of Khujand, for instance, the EBRD and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs have co-financed a US$ 8.85 million wastewater treatment plant, including the replacement of sewerage collectors and pipes, the overhaul of the water supply network and the installation of specialised meters.

The EBRD has also lent institutional support to Tajikistan’s water utilities on the operational and financial changes needed to improve the sustainability of their services. The Bank is working with the Tajik government to review, assess and restructure state water supplier KMK, to improve the financial viability of operators and ensure an efficient water supply.

Achievements and results

The EBRD’s financial and technical support has helped to improve Tajikistan’s water and energy efficiency, secure access to clean water and safeguard the institutional sustainability of water providers.

The revamped wastewater treatment plant in Khujand, for example, opened in 2019, boasting a 60 per cent increase in energy efficiency and up to a 45 per cent improvement in operational capacity. The city’s 170,000 inhabitants, 570 businesses and 230 state entities, including schools and hospitals, are already benefiting from better water quality.

Cities in Tajikistan with EBRD water projects

To underpin the financial sustainability of Tajikistan’s water providers and facilitate wider sector reform, a Water Users Committee has been established to improve governance, while ongoing efforts have helped to boost average collection rates. With the Bank's support, the country has adopted a revised financial model based on the cost-recovery principle, which has been implemented nationwide. The restructuring of KMK has led to the decentralisation of water provision.

Partnerships

The EBRD has been working with the government of Tajikistan to finance major water projects since 2004. To date, the Bank has supported numerous such investments with its partners, primarily the European Union and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.

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