HRNW REPORT: While December 2015’s Paris Conference generated a global push to combat climate change, closer to home UNDP Uzbekistan has engaged national partner representatives in planning an approach to addressing the global challenge. Climate change is a particular concern in regions with environmental challenges, an example being agricultural communities in Uzbekistan’s Karakalpakstan region which have grappled with dry climates, extreme temperatures and water deficits, but have to date withstood climate change-induced risks.Assisting the transition from spontaneous climate change adaptation to a planned approach has been the purpose of UNDP’s jointly-implemented ‘Developing Climate Resilience of Farming Communities in Drought Prone Parts of Uzbekistan’ project. Planning for this initiative began in late 2014, with the input of national partners, international expertise and the intended beneficiaries themselves, making sure the project would be well coordinated and implemented. As a result of this extensive planning process, 2015 saw the establishment of two demonstration workshops held both in the western city of Nukus and at the project’s pilot site in the Kegeyli district.
As a means of overcoming the problem of boosting Karakalpakstan’s climate security, the workshops presented the use of information sharing systems designed to prepare farmers for potential FUTURE drought situations. They also covered techniques including laser-levelling, greenhouses, drought-resistant crops and other agro conservation and water-saving methods, that had excelled in similar difficult regions of Uzbekistan.
Bringing farmers face-to-face with climate preparation experts has helped create a two-way dialogue that in the coming year could result in the ideas being applied. Prileshbay Allaniyazov, who heads the ‘Atamakan-Najimov’ farm, is one individual who has attended a demonstration and now intends to pioneer the better practices.
“This information is available through the media, but direct dialogue with experts always has special value.” said Mr. Allaniyazov. “We have high hopes for the Centre, in terms of the support of farmers in our region, where we are able to get answers to our questions and develop agriculture, livestock and other areas of our business.”
These demonstrations have laid foundations for expected changes in 2016. The next step is more complex – making sure that the suggested proposals are easily and effectively introduced in the region. By early 2017, UNDP intends to set up 6 community workshops that will reach 700 farmers, 20 per cent women, among whom the available information will be distributed.
Combined with the proven effectiveness of the introduced practices, and the expectation that better methods will be shared by farmers among their neighbours, farmer information centres will also be established in the region. Building on the one-stop-shop approach introduced by UNDP into other regions of Uzbekistan, for the purpose of building Uzbekistan’s small business sector, it is intended that the centres will be a readily-available resource for limiting climate change impacts.
For Zuhra Ibragimova, Deputy Chairperson of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Karakalpakstan and Chairperson of the Women’s Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan, she hopes the centre’s impacts will represent a broad adjustment in the attitudes of Karakalpakstan’s farmers.
“It is a great support for our farmers, who have to work in difficult climatic conditions, with high soil salinity.” Ms. Ibragimova said. “We expect that the project will present a new approach to improving soil fertility, demonstrate the water management methods and teach us how to use new agricultural technologies.”
UNDP Uzbekistan has also released a Climate Risk Profile, that intends to serve as a resource for better planning Uzbekistan’s reaction and response to natural events caused by climate change variations, including avalanche, mudslides and flash flooding.
By giving Uzbekistan’s most vulnerable farmers effective a means to combat climate change’s impacts, it is hoped that in 2016 the nation will move further along the road towards greater resilience.
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