A hydropower plant in Tajikistan and an irrigation scheme in Morocco are to benefit from funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has announced.

A hydropower plant in Tajikistan and an irrigation scheme in Morocco are to benefit from funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has announced.

In Tajikistan the EBRD and other co-lenders are providing US$158 million for the climate-resilient upgrade of Qairokkum hydropower plant, with co-financing of US$50 million from the GCF.

Under the Morocco Saïss Water Conservation Project, the EBRD and partners are extending US$207 million for irrigation infrastructure that will protect agricultural production from the impacts of climate change with a co-financing grant contribution of €32 million from the GCF, together with a further €54 million contribution from the Kingdom of Morocco.

“These investments will strengthen the climate resilience of critical infrastructure in both countries, foster greater private sector involvement and benefit key sectors in both countries,” said Craig Davies, EBRD Head of Climate Resilience Investments. “The EBRD believes that successful economies should be competitive, green, well-governed, inclusive, resilient and integrated.”

In Tajikistan, the modernisation of the Qairokkum hydropower plant will address the energy security needs of 2.4 million people in the northern Sughd region in the face of increasing climatic variability.

GCF support will enable best international practices on climate risk management to be introduced to the Tajik hydropower sector, the EBRD said, adding that  more reliable and climate-resilient energy generation will address the frequent electricity blackouts which are severely harming the economy of Tajikistan, a country where hydropower sources are responsible for 98% of electricity generation.

Extensive cooperation between the EBRD, the Tajik authorities and international experts involved detailed climatic and hydrological studies, which informed the design of the Qairokkum project. This led to the selection of turbine, spillway and dam safety monitoring equipment that is designed to cope with the projected increasing variability in climatic conditions in the Syr Darya river basin.

The project will also include technical cooperation on climate resilience capacity building, which will involve improving trans-boundary cooperation on hydropower cascade management. It will build the resilience of this nationally critical infrastructure in the face of changing climatic conditions and the GCF support is critical for achieving this.

The Qairokkum hydropower project is complemented by a range of other activities by the government of Tajikistan in collaboration with donors to strengthen the country’s energy system. For example, the EBRD’s CLIMADAPT Climate Resilience Financing Facility provides affordable finance for Tajik households, farmers and businesses through the local banking sector and with support from the Climate Investment Funds to access sustainable energy, water and sustainable land management solutions. This includes finance for small-scale renewable energy and household energy efficiency.

In Morocco, extreme water scarcity is being exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, and unsustainable groundwater use is leading to diminishing groundwater reserves. This poses a severe threat to agricultural production and rural livelihoods as more than 80% of abstracted water is used for agricultural irrigation. Of the total agricultural land, only 15% is irrigated, often with inefficient water use and management practices.

In response to climate change, the Morocco Saïss Water Conservation Project will improve the climate resilience of the country’s highly vulnerable agriculture sector. This will be achieved with a transformative water transfer scheme that will deliver more than 100 million cubic metres of irrigation water to the Saïss plain each year, thus enabling a switch from highly unsustainable groundwater