Water and sanitation programme in Tajikistan

The former Soviet republic of Tajikistan has 8 million inhabitants, over 70 percent of whom live in rural areas. Only one in three Tajiks has any access to safe water. Many villages lack improved drinking water sources, forcing the locals to consume unsafe water from irrigation channels or, during dry periods, from water sellers' tank trucks. This water of dubious quality can cost up to $15 USD per cubic metre, one of the highest rates in the world.  

Programme Objectives

To continue improving the health and well-being of rural populations by providing stable access to water and sanitation services. Improving in-home hygiene behaviours. Building a rural water and supply and sanitation sector with complete autonomy.

Specific Objectives:

  1. Setting up a policy and regulatory framework for sustainable water supply and sanitation services throughout rural Tajikistan.
  2. Implementing transparent and effective processes for selecting villages, managing water users associations and integrating programs.
  3. Improving the health of rural populations in the target areas, including children, through better access to drinking water and sanitation.
  4. Optimizing local operators' capacities to manage and maintain water supply and sanitation  systems.
By constructing pilot water supply systems, we aim to show that it is possible to serve peoples' water needs, improve public toilet coverage and establish effective and efficient community-based management. A tariff that covers all costs ensures that the system is sustainably managed and developed over time.

Expected results

For Specific Objective 1:

  1. Lawmakers propose bills to protect water and environmental resources and improve rural water supply.
  2. Rural water supply and sanitation services are part of an effective IWRM policy with decentralised management plans for each basin.
  3. Hygiene and health education are integrated into the national primary and secondary school curricula.

For Specific Objective 2:

  1. Regional, district and local authorities participate in planning rural water and sanitation services (including the choice of districts and villages); budgets are set.
  2. Responsibility for rural water and sanitation system infrastructure is clearly defined.
  3. A joint standardised approach for fee setting is recognised at national level and applied.

For Specific Objective 3:

  1. 50,000 more people have access to rural water and sanitation services.
  2. The rate of water-borne diseases and infant mortality caused by unsafe water and a lack of hygiene in the project area is reduced by 50%.
  3. Each school and health centre in the selected villages has hygienic toilets.
  4. The poorest households receive technical assistance to build hygienic toilets.

For Specific Objective 4:

  1. Rural DWOs have the necessary professionals to be financially and technically autonomous.
  2. DWOs have a transparent accounting system.
  3. Gender equality is achieved within the DWOs. There is also a balance between men and women in decision-making roles.
  4. Fee collection rate is at least 58%, ensuring the financial viability of the DWOs.


Sustainable access to water thanks to effective local governance

More than 40,000 people in six villages have sustainable access to water at the end of 2015. Seven DWOs have been officially registered and are managing these water systems. Their staff have been trained on the technical, managerial and financial aspects to be able to independently run and maintain their system.

An approach that integrates health issues

Access to water is essential, but alone is not sufficient to significantly improve the health of rural populations. We organise hygiene awareness-raising campaigns alongside actions to provide access to water. Thanks to these campaigns, the incidence of water-borne diseases has dropped noticeably and sustainably in the villages targeted by the project. Regional and national campaigns have been organised to reach the entire population and increase our impact. More than 1,500 employees of the ministries of health and education have been trained in water-related behaviour.

A full cost-recovery approach

One of the main characteristics of the DWO is the instigation of a water fee in agreement with the populations of each village. This fee covers not only the water system operation costs (power for the pump, payment of maintenance technicians, maintenance costs etc.) but also depreciation. In other words, the initial investment cost is included in the fee and will be amortized in 5, 8 or 25 years depending on the type of infrastructure.

An affordable fee

The fee set for each village with ISW’s support is 40 cents per cubic metre, that is to say more than 35 times cheaper than the cost from a tank truck. At this rate, the system is covering its costs if 85% of the population pays, leaving leeway to supply the poorest section of the population who are unable to pay for water.

High fee collection rates

The experience of the past 15 years demonstrates that following a transition period, the rate of fee collection reaches between 90 and 95% and remains at this level as long as the people are still receiving water services. The fee is freely established by the village inhabitants and collected by the DWO. It is also fixed in accordance with the national anti-monopoly agencies.

An affordable investment cost

At a cost of around 60USD per person, the investment required remains affordable. The model proposed includes household connections and is suitable for villages of between 2,000 and 10,000 inhabitants. It also suits systems where several villages depend on a single water source. It works for villages using underground or surface water.

Next steps

In 2016, we will support system extensions by the local inhabitants to reach 30,000 people. 1,500 key stakeholders (from the ministries of health and education) will be trained in Tajikistan on water and hygiene-related behaviour change.


  • Swiss development and cooperation agency – SDC
  • Tajikistan villages


Tender award – large-scale water & sanitation programme in Tajikistan

We are proud to announce that we will continue to contribute to accelerating the implementation of SDG 6 on water and sanitation in Tajikistan!     We have won a new contract from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)to improve the access to water and sanitation for all as well as hygiene behaviors in the Syr Darya River basin. The first phase of the CHF 7,789,000 programme will last until 2024, with further phases to follow. Switzerland intends to contribute a total of CHF 20 million over the next 12 years.   This new programme builds on past experiences developed in partnership with the SDC where we worked in close cooperation with citizens in pilot villages in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to help them to build and manage their own drinking water supply systems.    This new project focuses on access to drinking water and sanitation on equal footage and includes a major technical assistance component designed to … Continue reading Tender award – large-scale water & sanitation programme in Tajikistan

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Breakthrough for full cost recovery in rural water supply in Tajikistan

Context With its numerous lakes and major glaciers, the largely semi-arid Tajikistan has abundant fresh water resources: about 60% of Central Asian water streams are originating from its mountains. However, due to the rough terrain, population growth and collapse of centrally subsidized drinking water supply and irrigation systems, the delivery of the water to the … Continue reading Breakthrough for full cost recovery in rural water supply in Tajikistan

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How to Establish a Full Cost Recovery Water Supply System?

This paper draws on the experiences of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project implemented in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan by the International Secretariat for Water (ISW). It explains the details of the model which allows for full cost recovery and analyses the factors for success and replication. The document clearly shows that there is potential for … Continue reading How to Establish a Full Cost Recovery Water Supply System?

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