Water is fundamental to human development. Easy access to clean drinking water, along with toilets and information on hygiene, reduces diseases, enables girls in particular to attend latrine-equipped schools, and saves women and children from queuing for and carrying water for on average 90 minutes per day. Infrastructure such as irrigation canals, with equitable access, provides water supplies for agriculture and livestock. Energy generation and most industries are also dependent on reliable water supplies.
With two percent of its area covered by lakes, and almost a thousand rivers, Tajikistan has abundant fresh water. Over 95 percent of its electricity is supplied by hydropower. However, the remoteness of much of the Tajik population makes it difficult to provide and maintain water infrastructure. In 2019, the World Bank found that 43 percent of inhabitants lacked basic sanitation facilities, while 35 percent had no drinking water services. Meanwhile, floodwaters and mudslides from glacial lake overflows and surface water threaten lives: water is as much a hazard as a resource.
Pressure on shared natural resources, with the potential for creating conflict within and across national borders, is intensified by climate change. For example, research from the University of Central Asia (UCA) shows that while the population in Sughd is growing, the decrease in winter rain and the loss of glaciers threatens the availability of water in the Isfara River, vital for agriculture.
In response, the National Development Strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan for the Period up to 2030 notes the need for irrigation and effective water management for agricultural development, the potential of hydropower for energy security, and the demands of the national economy and the growing population for investment in water infrastructure.