Economic and Ecological Restructuring of Land- and Water Use in the Region Khorezm (Uzbekistan)




The ZEF/UNESCO project “Economic and Ecological Restructuring of Land- and Water Use in the Region Khorezm, Uzbekistan, was a ten-year interdisciplinary research project run by ZEF with the support of UNESCO and the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). Additional doctoral scholarships have been made available by the Ministry for Education and Science of the State of North Rhine Westphalia. It was carried out in cooperation with the State University of Urgench (UrDU), the German Space Agency (DLR), the University of Würzburg and many more partners.

More than 100 international researchers from social, natural and economic sciences have worked together during this decade to come up with solutions for the region’s multi-faceted problems. In addition, the project educated around 80 doctoral students and more than 100 master students in the region.

The main research questions addressed were: How can science, knowledge, and innovation reduce the loss of natural resources and re­source use inefficiencies and how can local livelihoods benefit?


The project was organized in three phases:

Phase I (2001-2003) focused on the establishment of central databases and infrastructure and analyzed bio-physical and socio-economic data gaps. In Phase II (2004-2006) field surveys and trials on alternative water and land use options as well as studies to increase the understanding about institutions and processes on land and water use were conducted. During Phase III (2007-2011) the project’s researchers tested an integrated concept for restructuring land and water use on a landscape segment (75 ha) provided by the regional authorities. The evaluation and adaptation of innovations with stakeholders (farmers, water managers, policy makers), a method developed by the project and called ‘Follow-the-Innovation’ (FTI), was a crucial component of Phase III.

It is common that activities of research and education projects end with the research findings being published, without bringing them to practitioners and policymakers. The researchers and management of this project intended to act in a different way. They started disseminating (selected) innovations and findings in the last Phase III with the aim of translating these innovations into action and introducing them to national agricultural policy-makers.

Main Cooperation Partners

You can read a project report with a summary of the scientific outcome, the main lessons learned and literature references in the brochure "Highlights of a decade of interdisciplinary research and education in the Aral Sea Basin in Central Asia", published by ZEF in August 2013.


Duration of the Project

Phase I 2002-2003: Infrastructure, databases, data collection and evaluation
Phase II 2004-2006: Field trials, Development of integrated model
Phase III 2007-2010: Pilot farm, model fine tuning, Decision Support Tool (DST)
Phase IV 2011-2012: Khorezm-wide adaptation

Project Homepage


John Lamers

Dr. John Lamers


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