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Managing River Water Resources in Moldova

Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe and relies heavily on its agriculture sector, which employs more than 40 percent of the country’s population and accounts for 17 percent of the economy. 

Although Moldova is fortunate to have two rivers that deliver all the water it needs for irrigation, climate change is threatening the abundance of this important resource. Recent studies and models suggest that over the next 50 years, water flows in both the Nistru and Prut rivers could decrease by as much as 20 percent, presenting a major problem for an economy driven by high-value agriculture. Growing demand for water amid climate change and more frequent drought requires improved water resource planning and secure water rights.

To address this challenge, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is supporting farmers and local groups to rehabilitate irrigation systems that serve approximately 15,000 hectares of land. MCC’s irrigation system rehabilitation is part of a five-year effort to revive the country’s fruit and vegetable industries, which have slowly dwindled since the fall of the Soviet Union due to neglect of the centralized irrigation systems and the loss of Soviet-organized export channels. 

MCC is also providing complementary support such as farmer training, sanitary and phytosanitary laboratory improvements, and access to finance for agricultural investments. Local water user associations are also being created to ensure effective management of the newly rehabilitated irrigation systems. 

Additionally, MCC is building Moldova’s institutional capacity by supporting the implementation of a new Water Law, developing the guidelines for allocation and enforcement of water rights. A system of registering and allocating water rights to major users provides a guarantee that should incentivize investment in better equipment and water management. MCC provides training and equipment to Moldova’s state Water Agency to improve water quality and monitoring, and is also helping launch a process of participatory water resource planning through a system of basin and sub-basin community councils and community-specific management plans. These councils will ensure that all members of the community are able to advocate for their water needs and also take responsibility for maintaining clean and productive rivers.  

This project, which will have far-reaching effects on the sustainability of irrigation water, aims to serve as a model Moldova can use to scale up other systems and promote high-value agriculture across the country.  

Learn more about MCC’s $262 million compact in Moldova.

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