THE ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK (ADB) has approved a US$5.3M loan to aid Tajikistan to undertake emergency slope stabilisation measures and restore reliable water flows in the Vakhsh river.

The measures are needed to prevent further disruption to power generation and irrigation in the region, after the Vakhsh river was blocked by a landslide following an earthquake in early March 2002.

Since then, the landslide has been moving at speed varying between a few millimeters to one centimeter a day. There is reportedly a danger that sudden movement of the landslide will completely block the river and submerge the Baipaza hydro power station located in the Kathlon region, Southern Tajikistan.

The objective of the project is to restore water flows in the Vakhsh river to at least pre-earthquake levels and to initiate disaster prevention measures. This will be done by limiting the occurrence and magnitude of the landslide and mitigating its impact. The project will also undertake a feasibility study to determine the most cost-effective long-term solution to the problem.

Maintaining reliable flows in the Vakhsh river is vital for Tajikistan and the downstream countries of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Any blockage of the river would disrupt the power generation of five hydro power stations.

‘In the worst case scenario, 90% of the electricity-generating capacity of Tajikistan could be at risk,’ said Xavier Humbert, ADB’s Energy Specialist.

‘In addition, blockage of the Vakhsh river would endanger water supply to downstream users for agriculture, industry, and drinking water and disrupt water supply to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.’

ADB will finance 80% of the total project cost.