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Challenges of water security in Central Asia


HAH Report

The notion of water security in Central Asia has evolved throughout the years in an attempt to control an extensive transboundary river network which divides the region between upstream (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan) and downstream (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan) countries, writes Stefanos Xenarios, Senior Research Scientist at the University of Central Asia’s Mountain Societies Research Institute in his paper , “Current and Future Challenges of Water Security in Central Asia”. The paper has been included as a chapter in the publication the “Global Water Security” by the World Water Council and the Ministry of Water Resources of China.

According to the writer, “In Soviet times, the belief in engineering and technical supremacy over nature was applied in the installation of numerous hydraulic facilities and mechanical interventions.

“Water for energy was provided by a series of hydropower stations upstream, while downstream, extended supply and drainage networks and large pumping stations served mainly cotton monoculture.

“After independence in 1991, water security in the newly established downstream states became synonymous with sufficient irrigation volume for agricultural production, while upstream, water security was interpreted as increased hydropower capacity.

“Still, however, the transboundary nature of water resources in Central Asia determines to a large extent the need for coordinated national policies and compromises between the Central Asian countries for the attainment of water security in the region.

The current study, according to Xenarios, indicates the geophysical, institutional, and historical challenges to be met for the mutual understanding of water security among these five countries. The newly introduced river basin management approach is presented as a crucial reform that may improve common initiatives in water resources management between the riparian countries.

Attention is given to the increased effort to be made by interstate and regional organisations in the implementation of feasible and effective solutions for better allocation of transboundary water resources in Central Asia.


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