Rural Water Supply and Sanitation in the Ferghana Valley

Project completed
boys washing their hands
Hand washing campaign conducted by RWSSP in kindergartens in Fergana province. ©SCO Tashkent © ЫСЩ © SCO Tashkent

Rural areas in Uzbekistan lack an adequate supply of clean water.  A large proportion of Uzbekistan's rural population of 10 million people suffer from diseases caused by unclean water. A project funded by the SDC is helping people in rural areas help themselves. Villagers are learning how to organise their water supply themselves.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Drinking water and basic sanitation (WASH) (til 2016)
Water sector policy
01.01.2013 - 30.06.2018
CHF  6’157’000

Clean water and access to sanitation facilities is one of the basic prerequisites for development.  Whereas the proportion of the world's population with access to clean water is growing, in Central Asia the trend has been reversed since the collapse of the Soviet Union:  fewer and fewer people have access to clean water because in the newly independent states hardly any resources are being allocated to build new water supply infrastructures. Existing systems are falling into disrepair or breaking down altogether because there are no funds to maintain them.

Access to clean water for more than 30 villages

Since the SDC began its efforts to improve the water supply in Central Asia in 2004, some 150,000 people in over 30 villages – including 110,000 in Uzbekistan and 40,000 in Tajikistan – have obtained sustainable access to drinking water.

The "Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project" is part of the SDC larger water program in Uzbekistan. The central focus is on the development of local management structures for the water supply. The project is helping municipalities to build their own drinking water supply: Old or broken water systems are being rebuilt and villages that had no access to drinking water are being connected to the water supply network.

Helping people to help themselves

As part of the project Uzbek villagers are learning to build and maintain their own water supply networks in the long term. They make sure that the pumps are in good working order and monitor the disinfection system, pipelines, reservoirs and wells. They are also responsible for ensuring that the water network is protected from freezing.

Village committee meetings take joint decisions about the water supply. The fact that the local population can participate in the decision-making process increases the acceptance of the project. This is particularly important because local residents have to pay a monthly rate to cover running costs like the electricity for the pump, maintenance and salaries. Until recently, water was free of charge in Central Asia. Having to pay for it raises people's awareness that it is a limited resource.

Water and hygiene are closely interconnected

Another focus of the SDC project is an information campaign for villagers on the subject of hygiene. Clear and targeted explanations concerning good hygiene practices, such as washing hands and thorough cleaning of water containers, help to reduce widespread diseases that mainly affect children. Another objective is to reduce diarrhoea among children by 30%.

Children no longer have to fetch water

Salomat Khon Davronova, a 66-year-old pensioner from the village of Boltakul in the Fergana valley in Uzbekistan, has six children and 14 grandchildren. She reports: "Since we've had a water facility, life has become much easier for everyone." The villagers are no longer afraid to drink water because they know that it is clean. According to Ms Davronova, the village children are particularly happy because they are not falling ill as often as before. "Now they take bottles of boiled water to school and no longer have to drink worm-infested water from the gutters."  Another advantage, says Ms Davronova, is that now that they no longer have to fetch water, children have more time for after-school activities.  "They take classes in their free time and are learning a lot."