“When there are floods, we have to build barriers to keep our land safe,” says Ataev Maksat, a 35-year old farmer from Saryyazy, a village in Mary, Turkmenistan. He is a third generation farmer, growing wheat and cotton on his ancestral land. He also raises livestock and tends to his household vegetable garden — all of which relies on the Murghab, a transboundary river that flows from Afghanistan to Turkmenistan.
The Murghab riverbed hasn’t been dredged in a long time. Over the past three decades, the riverbed has risen by nearly three meters. Additionally, the risk of flooding was exacerbated by changes in river flow due to climate change. Consequently, there has been an increase in floods and agricultural losses.
This has changed in 2020. In December 2019, USAID, in partnership with Turkmen counterparts, invested in a dredger, a vessel equipped to remove silt and sediment from the riverbed, through USAID’s Smart Waters program.
This article appears in Global Waters, Vol. 11, Issue 4; for past issues of the magazine, visit Global Waters’ homepage on Globalwaters.org