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Background Information

The Central Asian countries share the Aral Sea Basin (ASB) and are locked in a hydrological inter-dependence that transcends national boundaries. Rainfall in the Basin is generally low; lion share of the runoff is generated by snow and glacier melt in the mountainous upstream countries, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. However, according to the UN data, the three downstream countries, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, which account for 80% of the Central Asian population and heavily rely on irrigating agriculture, make more than 70% of total water abstractions.

by Eatswords via flickr

Complex Institutional and Legal Structures

An elaborate set of water and energy sharing agreements among the republics of Central Asia largely broke down with the end of the Soviet era. The previously integrated regional water and electricity infrastructure was divided along the new national borders and started suffering from lack of coordinated maintenance.

Moreover, the overuse and poor management of available water resources leads to more and more limited agricultural yields, while groundwater levels in the Aral Sea Basin continue to drop rapidly. At the same time, political stalemate on cooperation has limited development of balanced hydropower and agricultural potentials.

Finally, the deteriorating quality of water used for irrigation and drinking water supply in Central Asia, largely affected by constant pollution, raises serious concerns.

Climate Change

Climate change with predicted above-average warming and glacial retreat will likely exacerbate the water, agricultural and distributional problems in the region. Building capacity to be able to adapt to climate variability will be key for sustainable human development in the Aral Sea Basin.

From the Water-Energy Nexus Towards Integrated Water, Energy and Food Security

While the Central Asian republics of the Former Soviet Union have so far avoided open conflict over water resources, their relations have been strained. This complex water-energy nexus could quickly deteriorate into a major economic, humanitarian and political crisis for the whole region in unfavourable years.

Consequences of the Global Economic Crisis

It has had a significant impact on the Central Asian economies, foremost, on poor and marginalized groups. Besides job losses the crisis directly affected environmental and public health spheres. Decisive and concerted joint action from the international development community and local stakeholders is required to mitigate the consequences of the economic breakdown and prevent it from becoming a humanitarian and poverty crisis.

Promoting IWRM and Fostering Transboundary Dialogue in Central Asia

The key issue for the project is a more efficient water resources management through development and implementation of IWRM approaches. The project strives to:
  • Contribute to elaboration and implementation of IWRM strategies in Kyrgyzstan.
  • Contribute to elaboration and implementation of IWRM strategies in Tajikistan.
  • Strengthen transboundary dialogue and cooperation in the Ili-Balkhash basin.
  • Improve capacities and IWRM dialogue on the regional level.

Here you can learn more about the components of the project.

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