CBA Kazakhstan: Adaptation to Increased Aridity through Climate Resilient Agro-Silvo-Pastoralism Using Sauxal

Project Overview

This Community-Based Adaptation project focuses on the reduction of land degradation risks stemming from increasing summer temperatures, hot winds, and declining winter snowfall. The project builds on baseline measures to irrigate local haymaking lands and rehabilitate the agricultural dam on the nearby Lepsy River. It uses a local drought-resilient shrub – sauxal – to aggregate wind-blown snow during the winter, preserving it for the spring melt and thereby improving summer fodder.

The project also has a capacity-building component and a component aimed at disseminating identified good practices at the national level.

This project is part of Kazakhstan's Community-Based Adaptation portfolio. *

Project Details

This Community-Based Adaptation project focuses on three villages in the Sarkand District of southeastern Kazakhstan, near the border with China. Livestock-raising is the primary livelihood in the area. The region’s climate is extremely dry, with long, cold winters and hot summers. The only agriculturally useful precipitation is winter snow that contributes to soil moisture and groundwater as it melts. Summer precipitation generally evaporates before it can be absorbed by plants. Like much of Kazakhstan, the area faces increasing aridity in addition to man-made environmental pressures. The clearing of the hardy sauxal tree has disturbed soil cover, expanded sandy areas, and reduced the diversity of native plants and animals. Disruption of traditional pasture management practices, in addition to a growth in private livestock herds, has led to overgrazing. Mismanagement of grazing land and the deterioration of a Soviet-built irrigation dyke has contributed to the degradation of pastoral ecosystems. Declining productivity from livestock-raising has decreased incomes, and the lack of alternative income sources in this poor region has forced many villagers to poach and fish illegally.

Long-term climate change projections for Kazakhstan and Central Asia include temperature increases, especially in winter, and more evaporation in summer. In the project area, these trends are already being observed. The local meteorological station indicates that average temperatures and aridity have increased since the 1960s and 1970s. As winter temperatures increase, snow decreases and there is less soil moisture is available for fodder growth during the spring. Less fodder translates into less food for livestock and contributes to pasture degradation. In recent years, low levels of precipitation and increasing aridity have negatively affected pastoral productivity in the area. Natural pastures have degraded and water levels in the nearby Lepsy River have fallen. The deficit of winter forage has increased vulnerability to climate change. Increased aridity will further deteriorate the pastoral plant composition, making the land unusable for grazing. Unable to sustain livestock off the land, climate change will make it increasingly difficult for residents of this economically depressed area to make a living.

The project focuses on reforestation with sauxal – a local drought-resistant shrub. Sauxal serves to aggregate wind-blown snow during the winter, preserving it for the spring melt and thereby improving summer fodder. The project builds upon ongoing efforts to irrigate local haymaking lands and rehabilitate the agricultural dam on the nearby Lepsy River. The project will also help introduce new pasture management systems and disseminate good practices. Its objective is to reduce the impact of increasing aridity as a result of climate change through planting of sauxal and the enhancement of local pastoral resources.

Level of Intervention: 
Key Collaborators: 
Primary Beneficiaries: 
Implementing Agencies & Partnering Organizations: 
Wiedergeburt ‘Taldykorgan’ Germans Society
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
The GEF Small Grants Programme
Government of Switzerland
Project Status: 
Financing Amount: 
Co-Financing Total: 

Key Results and Outputs

Project Objective:

To reduce the impact of aridization induced by the climate change through planting haloxylon and enhancement of pastoral and inundable resources

Outcome 1.0: Enhanced productivity, moisture retention, and sustainable grazing practices

Conduct a working workshop, purchase fertilizers, and treat 20 ha of soil (Output 1.1). Harvest hay on the fertilizer-treated fields and complete a comparative analysis with the untreated hayfields (Output 1.2). Repair irrigation channel network and connection roads; construct dams (Output 1.3).

Outcome 2.0: Improved pasture sustainability through planting haloxylon

Collect and procure of haloxylon seeds; prepare lands; plant 80 ha of haloxylon, including a 1 ha nursery snow-retaining embankments (Output 2.1). Protect haloxylon plantations and field a working seminar and workshops, with research including on survival capacity of haloxylon seeds (Output 2.2). Develop and implement rational near-village pasture management arrangements (Output 2.3). Procure special machinery to plant haloxylon (GTZ-funded activity) (Output 2.4).

Outcome 3.0: Best practices disseminated to other local communities

Hold meetings, field visits, a demonstrational workshop, and monitoring (Output 3.1). Prepare and publish a booklet dedicated to improved fertility methods for pastures and inundable fields (Output 3.2).

Reports and Publications

Annual Reports

Community-Based Adaptation in Kazakhstan and Central Asia


CBA Kazakhstan - ToN - Project Proposal (RUS)

CBA Kazakhstan - ToN - Project Concept (RUS)

CBA Kazakhstan - ToN - Project Proposal (EN)

CBA Kazakhstan - ToN - Project Concept (EN)

Project Brief / Fact Sheet

CBA Kazakhstan - ToN - Fast Facts

Assessments and Background Documents

CBA Kazakhstan - ToN - Final Evaluation

Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation for community-based adaptation is a new field, and the CBA project is piloting innovative approaches to evaluating the success of locally-driven adaptation projects, and generating lessons to inform ongoing practice.

Key considerations in M&E for CBA include:

  • Grounding M&E in the local context: M&E for CBA should avoid overly rigid frameworks, recognizing community heterogeneity and maintaining local relevance
  • Capturing global lessons from local projects: CBA projects are highly contextualized, but lessons generated should be relevant to stakeholders globally
  • Incorporation of both quantitative and qualitative indicators: to ground projects in tangible changes that can be objectively evaluated, and to capture lessons and case studies for global dissemination

To these ends, the CBA project uses three indicator systems: the Vulnerability Reduction Assessment, the Small Grants Programme Impact Assessment System, and the UNDP Climate Change Adaptation Indicator Framework.

The Vulnerability Reduction Assessment (VRA)

The VRA is a question-based approach with the following aims:

  • To make M&E responsive to community priorities
  • To use M&E to make projects more accountable to local priorities
  • To make M&E capture community ideas and local knowledge
  • To gather community-level feedback to guide ongoing project management
  • To generate qualitative information
  • To capture lessons on specific issues within community-based adaptation
  • To generate case studies highlighting adaptation projects

The VRA follows UNDP's Adaptation Policy Framework, and is measured in a series of meetings with local community stakeholders. In these meetings, locally-tailored questions based on standard VRA questions/indicators are posed, and the community assigns a numerical score on a 1-10 scale for each question. Progress is evaluated through changes in scores over the course of implementation, as well as through qualitative data collected in community discussions surrounding the exercise.

UNDP has developed a Users Guide to the VRA (Espanol) (Francais) as a tool to assist practitioners to conceptualize and execute VRA measurements in the context of CBA projects.

The SGP Impact Assessment System (IAS)

The CBA, being a project of the GEF Strategic Priority on Adaptation, aims to increase the resilience of ecosystems and communities to the impacts of climate change, generating global environmental benefits, and increasing their resilience in the face of climate change impacts. To this end, the CBA projects use the SGP's impact assessment system for monitoring achievements in GEF focal areas (focusing primarily on biodiversity and sustainable land management).

The IAS is composed of a number of quantitative indicators which track biophysical ecosystem indicators, as well as policy impact, capacity development and awareness-building.

UNDP Climate Change Adaptation Indicator Framework

CBA projects also track quantitative indicators from UNDP's adaptation indicator framework, corresponding to the thematic area on natural resources management. More information on UNDP's indicator framework can be found on the UNDP climate change adaptation monitoring and evaluation website.


This description applies to all projects implemented through UNDP's Community-Based Adaptation programme. Specific details on this project's M&E will be included here as they become available. *


The German Society Wiedergeburt
Vladimir Molodtsov
Director of PA
CBA Project Management Unit