The main objective of our project is to increase the resilience of farmers in Karakalpakstan to the impact of the desiccated Aral Sea region and develop adaptation measures leading to increased water availability and accessibility.


Intensive use of surface water for irrigation in agricultural practices over several decades in the Karakalpakstan region of Uzbekistan led to degradation of surface runoff quality and quantity. This affected also the hydraulically connected groundwater systems which became an expensive but partially feasible alternative for irrigated agriculture. Efforts to limit the use of groundwater were driven by the aim of not reducing even further the surface flow but in the context of declining surface water, groundwater continued to be exploited for irrigation purposes, including the high-quality non-renewable reservoirs. The combined effect of Aral Sea desiccation, severe droughts, changes in rainfall pattern and concentrated demand of water for agriculture and industrial use led to serious consequences. This includes the salinisation of agricultural soils and decrease of crop yields, reflected in negative water balances in many parts of the region.


The present project aims to address these issues on two strategical levels:

  1. To develop sustainable groundwater management and adaptation strategies based on socio-economic, environmental and technical requirements of the region
  2. To contribute to the further development of the scientific community in the country by sup- porting early-career research innovation


To achieve these goals, a transdisciplinary research group will be established at the International Innovation Center for the Aral Sea Basin under the President of Uzbekistan (IICA) following the successful example of the junior research group INOWAS at Technische Universität Dresden in Germany. The research focus of the group will be on investigating opportunities for sustainable groundwater management. The work plan includes a characterisation of the environmental status quo in the Karakalpakstan region and the identification and development of appropriate groundwater management solutions in cooperation with local decision makers and farming communities.

Specifically, the project will address the following questions:

  • What are the spatial and temporal characteristics of the local groundwater system under the extreme climate events?
  • How to transfer international best-practices for groundwater management into the Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan context?
  • How to safeguard the water security through a better utilization of the available water resources?
  • What are the ways of promoting collaborations between government institutions, farmers, and technology providers?


The FARM project is jointly funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Uzbek Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation (MHESI) for a duration of 24 months (October 2023 – September 2025).