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Participating countries

Water

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan_flagDeserts and steppes account for more than 80 percent of the total territory of Kazakhstan. Four major hydrologic regions can be found, each distinguished by the final destination of the water: the Arctic Ocean through the Ob River, the Caspian Sea, the Aral Sea and internal lakes, depressions or deserts. Incoming waters (from other countries) account for about one third of the country's total water resources. Of the approximately 100 cubic kilometers of average annual water resources flowing through Kazakhstan, almost one half is generated outside the country and arrives across international boundaries. Kazakhstan is also an upstream riparian, with obligations to ensure sufficient flow crossing its border into Russia. Overall water management is therefore a major transboundary issue.

With total water use at approximately 35 cubic kilometers, Kazakhstan is not water scarce as such, but uneven geographical distribution and highly inefficient water use creates water shortages in many regions of the country. The problem is therefore not one of resources, but rather one of management. Water shortages create a serious threat to health, to sustainable development and to the environmental protection of the country.

Water quality in practically all the water bodies remains unsatisfactory, despite continued decrease in production and volumes of wastewater. Pollution of groundwater is widespread and the provision of high quality drinking water is often problematic. In addition, Kzakhstan is seeing an increase in infectious diseases as a result of unclean water. Surface water is mainly used for agriculture, while groundwater and desalinated water are mainly used for drinking water. Given the vast deserts that cover Kazakhstan, irrigation forms an important part of agricultural production. Wheat, cotton, rice and potatoes are the major exports crops. Much of the irrigation is inefficient due to water losses and unavailable funds to upgrade the irrigation systems. Over the last half century, intensive development of irrigated agriculture in the Central Asian Region led to the destruction of the Aral Sea, perhaps the greatest environmental disaster in history. There are now some concerns for Lake Balkash, in the east of Kazakhstan, with the potential for a catastrophe similar to the Aral Sea in the making.

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Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan_flagThe Kyrgyz Republic is well endowed with water resources, most of which originate from melting snow and glaciers. Precipitation varies greatly, ranging from 130 to 680 millimetres per year, most in the basin of the Syr Darya and a small share in the basin of the Amu Darya. By international agreement, 25 percent can be retained, of which about 90 percent is used for agricultural purposes. There are six main river basin groups in the country. No rivers flow into the Kyrgyz Republic. In total 27826 small and large rivers are formed on territory of the Kyrgyz Republic, which are in overwhelming majority the trans-boundary ones. Only the rivers of a basin of Yssyk-Kul lake refer to the internal (local) rivers.

Kyrgyzstan has considerable reserves of water resources. Annual average volume water of total water resources makes up 2,458 km including 50 cub.km of surface river runoff, 13 km of potential reserves of ground water, 1,745 km of lake water, 650 km of glaciers.

Agriculture is the leading sector of the Kyrgyz economy. As noted, irrigation is critical for crop production. Since the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, lack of funding for maintenance has resulted in the deterioration of the irrigation dams (bringing with it related safety problems) and reduced capacity of the primary and secondary irrigation systems. Irrigation infrastructure within the boundaries of the former farms has been affected by lack of maintenance as well. Many pumping stations have slowed or stopped operations. In-field water application is inadequate due to lack of equipment and skills. The clogging of drainage systems is leading to increased water logging and soil salinization. The main source of drinking water supply is underground waters. Besides drinking water supply the underground waters are used for the industrial needs and partially for land irrigation. Only about one third of the country's 4.6 million inhabitants has piped water to their homes. Another third receives water from stand posts or water tankers, and the remaining third has no organized water service. About half of the estimated 1,750 villages have no functioning water system.

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Tajikistan

Tajikistan_flagTajikistan is rich in water resources. Around 6% of the country territory is covered with glaciers and permanent snows prevailing at 3,500 – 5,000 m. The mountainous areas of Tajikistan are a principal source of water for the Aral Sea basin. On average, 51.2 cub.km of water is formed on the territory of Tajikistan which comprise 44% of annual water flow of the Aral Sea basin rivers: in the basin of Amudarya River - 50.5 cub.km and Syrdarya River - 0.7 cub. km. The main water flow comes from Pyanj, Vakhsh, Kafirnigan, Bartang and Zarafshan river basins.

Tajikistan’s water resources mainly arise owing to glacier melting and precipitation. Total freshwater reserves in Tajikistan’s glaciers and snowfields are estimated at 550 cub. km. Many of them are located in the basins of Obihingou, Gunt, and Muksu rivers as well as in other high-mountain areas. Over 1,300 lakes contain 44 cub.km of water, including 20 cub.km of freshwater and 24 cub.km of saltwater. Their total area is 705 sq. km.

Agriculture in Tajikistan at present and for the foreseeable future will remain one of the priority areas of the economy. The basis of agricultural production is irrigated farming: about 90 percent of all agricultural production is produced on irrigated land. About 65 percent of the economically active population is engaged in agriculture (in 1999, 1.1 million people). Water is also important for energy production in Tajikistan. The country's hydroelectric production is third in the world after Russia and the United states. Only about 15% of the 4.6 million people, who live in rural areas, are currently served by drinking water. During the winter months, reduced availability of power supplies typically restrict water supply to 2 hours per day and many rural people pay $3–5 per cubic meter (m3) to have water delivered by truck to their village. Morbidity due to unsafe drinking water is an acknowledged contributor to poverty in rural areas. There are 669 publicly owned water supply schemes in Tajikistan, but due to lack of funding and damage sustained during the civil war, most of these are in a state of disrepair. Opportunities to improve water supplies are hampered by institutional barriers and existing taxation rules.

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