World Bank concerned about effects of climate change on Central Asia


April 12, 2010, Victor Winner

By 2012, the World Bank (WB) will develop a new environmental strategy for the entire planet and the Central Asian region in particular. The strategy will raise issues of historical responsibility of Central Asian countries for the use of natural resources.

Roger Robinson, head of the WB Office in Kyrgyzstan, announced this last week during a teleconference on “Adaptation of the WB to Climate Change in Central Asia”, which connected the WB Offices in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

The teleconference was devoted to discussing the environment, as it was named a priority in the WB’s annual World Development Report. This year’s report is called ‘Climate Development and Change’.

The Central Asian climate becomes hotter and natural disasters (droughts, floods, wind storms) become more intense and frequent. At the same time, the intensity of precipitation increases (reducing in the south, and increasing in the north).

“It is difficult to forecast the final scenario of climate change, but it is already scientifically proven that these changes will affect absolutely all economic sectors. Of course, all this is interesting for the WB in terms of making investment decisions,” said Roger Robinson. “Droughts and floods will hinder hydroelectric power plants in generating power. Glaciers’ melting will affect the process of water supply to the population. It will also affect agriculture; agricultural areas in
Central Asia will become drier and hotter, and the risk of flooding will be higher. This will require changing the crops to more drought-resistant plants. It will be more difficult to manage water resources. Heat waves will shift infectious diseases, such as malaria, to the north bringing great difficulties to health care. The tourism industry will have to be restructured as clients will be attracted to areas where it is less arid.”

According to Robinson, the World Bank will study current and future climate-resistant investment in Central Asian infrastructure, determine the vulnerable parts of key sectors (particularly in agriculture and transport), and offer innovative forms to finance the adaptation to changing climatic conditions.

According to Ismail Dairov, director of the
Central Asian Regional Mountain Center, the WB supports projects for water supply. In particular, the WB helped establish 464 water users’ associations in Kyrgyzstan as the ability to manage water directly affects people’s lives. Also, a project to rehabilitate irrigation in Kyrgyzstan is being currently implemented. It is planned to assist residents of remote regions by supplying drinking water.