Interactive map of the best practices

on the use of water, land and energy resources,
as well as the environment of Central Asia

Establishment and development of WUAs, enhancement of technical capacities of intra-farm irrigation and drainage infrastructure


Title Establishment and development of WUAs, enhancement of technical capacities of intra-farm irrigation and drainage infrastructure
Category of tools Public participation principle
Methods of integrating water users and WUAs
Usability of practice for adaptation to climate change Moderate
Implemented by Department of Water Management and Reclamation of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) of the Kyrgyz Republic with the support of the World Bank
Used by

Country: Kyrgyzstan

Province: Talas Region

Practice also applied in the following localities

Issyk-Kul, Naryn, Osh, Jalal-Abad and Batken Regions and all administrative districts in 6 regions

Local specifics

Water User Associations (WUAs) are located in the western and central parts of the Tien Shan Mountains - from the Fergana Valley in the west to the central part of the Tien Shan in the east, from Kazakhstan in the north to the northern part of the Pamir in the south.  The territory of Kyrgyzstan stretches for 900 km from west to east and for 410 km from north to south (approximately between latitudes of 39N and 43N).

Scale of coverage: 450 WUAs with the serviced area of 736 000 ha; the intra-farm infrastructure consisting of 22.7 thous. km of irrigation canals (including 5.5 thous. km lined and in trays), 4.3 thous. km of open and closed collector and drainage networks, over 250 pools of daily and decade-based regulation, about 20 thous. units of hydro-engineering facilities.

Practice usage period

Start date: 01.01.2001

End date: 31.12.2013

Problem solved through this practice

After the country obtained independence, collective and state farms split into multiple small household and country farms, and the water management sector of Kyrgyzstan faced typical transition challenges, including the following key ones:

  • absence of relevant standard legal and institutional frameworks, ambiguity of land and water rights regulations;
  • lack of financial means for operation and maintenance (O&M) and absence of water pricing policy;
  • wear of irrigation and drainage infrastructure that led to unreliable supply and distribution of irrigation water as well as issues associated with drainage and land flooding, etc.;
  • practically all intra-farm infrastructure consisting of irrigation canals, open and closed collector and drainage networks, hydro-engineering facilities were left “ownerless”.
Tools used in the practice
  1. Methods of integrating water users and WUAs;
  2. Techniques of assessing the technical capacities of irrigation and drainage networks;
  3. Training seminars on different aspects of WUA activities (administration, financial management, water use, O&M of WUA irrigation infrastructure, legal framework of WUA operation and monitoring)
Description of the practice and its results


Within the framework of the first World Bank Project “Intra-Farm Irrigation” (PVO-1), in the course of 5-6 years more than 450 WUAs were established which are currently independently servicing the intra-farm irrigation network supplying water to over 700 thous. ha of agricultural land. In addition, the intra-farm water supply networks of 354 WUAs were fully re-balanced from the books of rural administrations and other economic entities. 1,138 km of intra-farm irrigation and 142.3 km of collector and drainage networks, 32 day run-off ponds, 3,401 hydro-posts, etc. underwent rehabilitation.  Trainings on all aspects of WUA operation (administration, financial management, water use, O&M of WUA irrigation infrastructure, legal framework of WUA activities, monitoring) were conducted covering over 48 thous. WUA members. The Law of the KR “On Water User Unions (Associations)” was adopted (February 2002).

35 Water Management Councils covering 229.4 thous. ha of irrigated land were established. In addition, 14 Unions (Federations) of Water User Associations covering 121.7 thous. ha of irrigated land were created and underwent legal registration across the country. The purposes of such Unions are joint operation and technical maintenance of intra-farm networks located within their respective service zones.

In early 2008, the 2nd Project “Intra-Farm Irrigation” (PVO-2) was launched to extend further support to, build the capacity of and train about 500 WUAs in all regions of the republic.  Out of them, 29 WUAs covering the irrigated area of approx. 51,000 ha executed rehabilitation operations and upgraded their irrigation and drainage systems.

Within the framework of implementing this practice, WUAs received assistance to ensure their ability to effectively and productively use the rehabilitated intra-farm irrigation systems in a sustainable manner with the special focus on water resources and assets management.


The practice facilitated capacity building of WUAs, improving of water resources management by WUAs as well as enhancing the technical capacities of intra-farm and drainage infrastructure.

Lessons learnt and recommendations made

Lessons learnt:

The newly established farm-level institutions – Water User Associations – ensure uniform and stable delivery of irrigation water from state water management organizations to final water users.


At present, the capacities of WUAs as well as WUA Unions (Federation) are rather low.  Considering the fact that WUAs represent the weakest link in water hierarchy and the role of water users in addressing the tasks of national food, water and environmental security, the government should find ways to support (first of all, financially) WUAs and WUA Unions (Federations).  Training of WUA personnel on all aspects of associations’ activities should be carried out on annual basis.

Source of practice
  • Domestic tools (outcomes of research by domestic R&D organizations);
  • Foreign tools (transfer of foreign experience)
Brief information on the project

Project title: Intra-Farm Irrigation (PVO-1 and PVO-2).

Project duration: 2001-2013 (13 years).

Project goal and objectives: establish, develop and strengthen WUAs as well as rehabilitate intra-farm irrigation and drainage infrastructure.

Project beneficiaries: water users and WUAs.

Project implementer: Department of Water Management and Reclamation of the MoA of Kyrgyzstan

Funding source World Bank
Information sources

Online publications:

  1. Report on performance assessment of water user associations in southern regions of the Kyrgyz Republic, 2010 (;
  2. Presentation “Intra-Farm Irrigation Project” by Training Specialist Mr. O. Segizbayev (;
  3. Specialists of the Department of Water Management of the Ministry of Agriculture examined the experience of Spain and Portugal on irrigation system management methods (more details on;
  4. Case studies: establishment of WUAs in Kyrgyzstan (more details on;
  5. Presentation “Intra-Farm Irrigation Project” by Project Manager Mr. N. Dzhailobayev (download presentation);
  6. “Projects and Programs in the Agricultural Sector” Bulletin, December 2008 (
Form submission date 18.05.2018
Print     Compare with other practice