Monitoring of surface water quality in place in Tajikistan through Finland's support
More than half of the freshwater in Central Asia originates in Tajikistan. In a country rich in water resources, people are concerned about the quality of natural waters and about the impacts of water quality on the environment and on human health. Finland’s support has contributed to improved monitoring of surface water quality.
Capacity building in surface water quality monitoring in Tajikistan is a joint project of the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) and the Committee of Environmental Protection under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, which they launched two years ago. They have collaborated with two local laboratories especially in developing analysis methods.
The main objectives of the project are improved sampling and laboratory work and the creation of a database for water analysis results. Other important objectives include raising the poor level of equipment and learning to use the current equipment more effectively.
The Tajik partners have been interested to get familiar with be best practices of Finnish Environment Institute, about which they have learned during their two study tours to Finland. Based on what they have seen, the Tajik partners of cooperation have expressed wishes concerning the development of their own work at home.
After the first study tour to Finland, equipment were modernised in Tajikistan and collecting water quality samples now proceeds smoothly. Environmental monitoring is based on successful collection of samples.
New methods and devices in use
Making improvements concerning the laboratories’ practices has been the most difficult phase of the project. Changing practices that are hazardous to health has been partly easy, but sometimes it has required replacement of old equipment with more modern ones.
It is not possible to modernise everything at the same time. At first, the work focused on developing overall phosphorus, nitric nitrogen, ammoniac nitrogen, biological oxygen consumption and E. coli analyses. A decision to make these analyses related to water quality monitoring was made with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
Analytics has been practiced in cooperation between Finnish and Tajik chemists in laboratories in Tajikistan. In addition, remote connections were taken into use for the periods between the practical training periods.
Access to clean water is a fundamental prerequisite for successful analyses. The laboratories were provided with new water purification equipment, because their old equipment did not function properly. Both laboratories now have double distillation facilities equipped with a pre-filtration mechanism. Additionally, all new devices are fitted with a current equalizer to prevent any damage at peak hours.
The staff of the Laboratory for Analytical Control have been familiarised with microbiological working methods, and a modern method suitable for them has been found. The new method has been well received and much more accurate results have been obtained from analyses. The old method produced only guiding results.
Developing the database for water analysis results has only just started. It has attracted much attention because the idea is that all information produced by the Tajik Committee of Environmental Protection will systematically be stored in the database. The database has been noted also by others engaged in different development projects under way in the country. Consultations on possible cooperation have been conducted with them.
Finland has allocated EUR 500,000 from its development cooperation appropriations to support the monitoring of surface water quality in Tajikistan in 2015–2017. The project will be led by the Finnish Environment Institute.
The author coordinates the project at the Finnish Environment Institute