Working with nine downstream villages that have collectively faced severe water shortages, extreme droughts, and seasonal crop failures, Water Users Association (WUA) “Ob Umed”, or Water is Hope in English, is working towards the establishment of an equitable water distribution system based on traditional water rights, distribution rules, and the communal maintenance of local water infrastructure. The grassroots initiative has reintroduced traditional water management institutions, eroded during the Soviet era, that establish specific rights, duties, and functions for community-elected water canal custodians. These custodians ensure the fair distribution of water resources among the villages.
This initiative is a model for best practice in local governance and community-based decision-making, with more than 5,000 active community members contributing to regular group meetings, trainings, and local infrastructure projects. Designed as a response to growing climate stresses, water resource conflicts, and the need for better irrigation systems and farming practices, WUA “Ob Umed” is improving access to drinking water through a model of local self-reliance and community-based action designed as a response to growing climate stresses, water resource conflicts, and the need for better irrigation systems and farming practices.