CBA Kazakhstan: Reducing Vulnerability to Declining Water Supplies in Burevestnik (Water Users' Initiative Group)

Project Overview

Burevestnik village is a rural community in Naurzum district, Kostani Oblast, northern Kazakhstan. The village formerly produced the most wheat in the Soviet Union, and vast expanses of virgin land were developed for agriculture. At present, subsistence grain production is the dominant livelihood. Gully development and steppe fires have led to land degradation, which threatens the fragile soils of the region. Climate change adds to these pressures, as increasing aridity makes soils more erosive, and heightens risk of steppe fire in the project area.

This Community-Based Adaptation project integrates climate change risk management into sustainable agriculture and oasis management to reduce the village’s vulnerability to declining water availability. Additionally, the project builds on activities designed to reduce land degradation, and to revitalize the local oases through infrastructure repair and the development of new community-based institutional structures for their management.

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

Project Details

This Community-Based Adaptation project seeks to integrate climate change risk management into sustainable agriculture and oasis management in Burevestnik, Kazakhstan. The area is home to approximately 1,860 people, consisting of heads of large and small farms as well as employees, teachers, seasonal workers and their families. The main sources of livelihood are grain production, vegetable growing, livestock and fish-farming.

Most of the economic needs of the village rely on water from dams filled with spring floods. However, for a long period of time these structures were not maintained, so the erosive processes gradually affected the floodgate and led to an unacceptable increase in the ravines and gullies. This situation undermines the economies of local communities since dams play an important role for agricultural production and fish farming (which serves as alternative source of income), as well as roads and household water services.

A climate changed-related increase in aridity will deprive the local community of its only sources of industrial water and people will not be able to grow vegetables, raise fish or keep livestock. The main source of income - growing wheat - is also threatened under this scenario since much of the machinery functions using water. Increasing frequency of dry periods will lead to a decline in grain cultivation—heightening poverty and forcing migration, since grain is the main and practically the only source of livelihood.

This project seeks to reduce the vulnerability of the Burevestnik rural county community to declining water availability. It was prepared through a participatory process carried out by Burevestnik 2009 Farmers Association and involving local stakeholders. Based on these stakeholders’ input, the project will carry out a number of infrastructural and training-oriented activities. By eliminating erosion-driven ravines and establishing herbs and bushes, villagers will reduce land degradation. Other erosion control technologies—and the community capacity to use them—will also be piloted. The reconstruction of dams will be undertaken, and community-based institutional frameworks for the sustainable management of the water supply will be established. A broader awareness and capacity-building component will enable the community to manage water and soil resources in a climate-resilient manner.

Water conservation techniques will be demonstrated on private lands selected on a competitive basis. Particular attention will be given to households whose head is a woman. The main criteria of selection will be the willingness and the ability to make her own contribution to the project in the form of water storage, additional pipelines, planting materials, and labor force.

Thematic area: 
Level of intervention: 
Key collaborators: 
Primary beneficiaries: 
Farmers; Fishers; Women
Implementing agencies & partnering organizations: 
Water Users Initiative Group (heads of farms, LLP managers)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
The GEF Small Grants Programme
Government of Switzerland
Project status: 
Financing amount: 
Co-financing total: 
Ak Tyrna Resource Center: $2,313; Zyto LLP: $352,126

Key Results and Outputs

Outcome 1 (co-financing):  Degraded land restored

Eliminate erosion-causing ravines (Output 1.1), establish herbs and bushes (Output 1.2) and pilot other erosion control technologies to reduce land degradation (Output 1.3). Hold training workshops to enhance community capacity to reduce land degradation and employ degradation-control practices/technologies (Output 1.4).

Outcome 2 (co-financing): Sustainable water supplies for local communities restored/established.

Reconstruct oases and ensure their sustainable function (Output 2.1). Establish a community-based institutional framework and provide training to ensure sustainable management of oases and water supply (Output 2.2).

Outcome 3 (CBA-funded):  Community capacity to adapt to climate change increased

Train communities to manage water and soil resources with a focus on climate resiliency (Output 3.1), such that climate change risks are incorporated into oasis management (Output 3.2).

Outcome 4 (CBA-funded):  Alternative livelihood practices piloted

Demonstrate drought-resistant grain (Output 4.1) and vegetable production (Output 4.2), as well as water-saving technologies (Output 4.3) in pilot sites.

Reports and Publications

Annual Reports

Community-Based Adaptation in Kazakhstan and Central Asia


CBA Kazakhstan - Burevestnik - Project Proposal (EN)

CBA Kazakhstan - Burevestnik - Project Concept (EN)

CBA Kazakhstan - Burevestnik - Project Concept (RUS)

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. *


CBA Project Management Unit