Posts Tagged ‘Aral Sea’


Sunday, October 19th, 2008

When it comes to trying to resolve vital water-management issues in Central Asia, regional leaders seem to be stuck in mud.

Yet another gathering to discuss water-issues — a meeting of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, held in Dushanbe on October 9 — ended in futility. The meeting had hoped to lay the groundwork for a regional water doctrine to govern the long-term use of Central Asian resources, but the failure of Uzbek officials to show up, along with ongoing disagreements, caused the assembly to end without finding a general consensus. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Experts had hoped to have the regional water doctrine finalized for approval in 2009.

The water management issue constitutes a major source of tension in Central Asia. Most water originates in the eastern mountains of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Downstream neighbors Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan rely on the water for extensive irrigation. Upstream countries want to build more hydropower dams to harvest the energy potential of the major river systems, blocking water the downstream countries would like allocated for irrigation. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

Discord is costing the Central Asian states a fortune, some experts say. Dyushen Mamatkanov, director of the Kyrgyz National Water and Hydropower Institute, told participants that every year the region squanders $2 billion due to poor water management. Highlighting that waste, each country builds its own electricity transmission lines, rather than share them, leading to extra expenditures and the inefficient transmission of power.