By Anton Usov
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is addressing priority environmental issues in western Uzbekistan by extending long-term sovereign loans of up to US$ 120 million for the benefit of Toza Hududs, the regional utility companies responsible for solid waste management in Horezm and Karakalpakstan.
The financial package consists of a US$ 50 million loan for necessary infrastructure upgrades in the Horezm region and a US$ 70 million loan for similar purposes in Karakalpakstan.
It will contribute to Uzbekistan’s decarbonisation efforts in line with the Paris Agreement and support the national solid waste management strategy, which is one of the priorities for Uzbekistan, where less than half the population benefits from modern waste management services.
None of the existing waste facilities in Horezm or Karakalpakstan can qualify as sanitary landfill under international standards. They have no basic protection or specialised service equipment and therefore pose a major threat to the environment and public health.
The Horezm region, home to 1.7 million people, generates around 280,000 tonnes of solid waste a year. In rural areas, where 67 per cent of the region’s population live, only 10 per cent of residents benefit from waste management services.
The US$ 50 million loan will finance the construction of two EU standards-compliant sanitary landfills with integrated mechanical and biological treatment facilities equipped with waste sorting and composting plants. It will also help construct six waste transfer stations and procure special vehicles and equipment for landfill management.
Karakalpakstan occupies more than one-third of Uzbekistan’s total territory and the almost 2 million inhabitants generate around 187,000 tonnes of solid waste a year. Half the region’s population lives in rural areas and only a third of local residents are covered by waste collection services.
The US$ 70 million loan will enable a new EU standards-compliant sanitary landfill to be built and help upgrade three existing waste disposal sites, which will also be equipped with integrated mechanical and biological treatment facilities. The EBRD will also help establish a regional network of solid waste transfer stations across Karakalpakstan and acquire specialised machinery.
With these loans, each regional utility company will be able to construct an integrated regional solid waste management system with higher environmental and service quality standards. Once implemented it will bring sizeable environmental benefits, such as reduced pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from landfills.
EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso said: “We are delighted that we can bring much-needed environmental change to Horezm and Karakalpakstan. This is part of our green agenda in Uzbekistan and I hope that such projects will reshape local municipal services and improve the quality of life for local people.”
The loans provided by the Bank will also support training programmes for women and young people to improve their employment opportunities. To date, the EBRD has invested more than €2.93 billion through 108 projects in Uzbekistan.