Maintaining resilient sources of water and pastureland is a necessity for sustaining this region’s farming traditions. Livestock breeding has been part of Garagum Gengeshlik communities in the Dashoguz region for generations: while men typically tend their herds of sheep and camels, economic opportunities for rural women are limited to the money they can make in city markets from homemade wool or milk products. If farmers cannot maintain their herds because over-used pastures are becoming deserts and water is scarce, the whole community will suffer.
In Garagum Gengeshlik, the remoteness of Esenaman pastures – and their lack of water sources – mean that about 50,000 hectares of viable grazing land have been sitting unused. Farmers wanted to expand their herds to increase their incomes, but needed land with access to water. Old sardobs, which collect and store rainwater, were therefore treasure chests waiting to be dug up. The restoration of sardobs near the livestock farm Garagum gave farmers access to these previously-abandoned pastures and the chance to grow their business – just one example of the opportunity these structures hold for enriching all aspects of rural lives in Turkmenistan.