Lack of coordination over shared water usage between Central Asian states has led to significant shortages of water for irrigation at the height of the growing season, Vadim Sokolov, Deputy Director of Scientific and Information Centre at the Interstate Committee for Water Management in Central Asia, has told Ferghana.ru.
Sokolov said the problem is also caused, in part, to low water levels that are seen every five years. However, Sokolov believes the water crisis could have been avoided had the region’s governments agreed upon water management procedures beforehand.
The key stumbling block remains the conflicting interests of those
states located up and down the streams of the main trans-border rivers.
Further aggravating the water shortages are the ineffective
irrigation systems used in the region. For instance, just in
Sokolov says there
once had existed an agreement under which
Protracted negotiations this year led to discharges of water by
“This winter, Uzbek and Kyrgyz authorities failed to agree on prices
and the amount of energy to exchange. Prolonged negotiations led to the
discharge of all water [that
Sokolov further said that completely closing the river to replenish the reservoir could fatally damage the ecosystems of the region.
The total amount of the Central Asian annual surface flow is 130
cubic kilometres of water, 40 percent of which is
Almost all small rivers belong to the Amudarya and Syrdarya water basins. The annual flow of Amudarya is nearly 80 cubic kilometres of water.
Additionally, irrigation is using nearly 90 percent of all available water resources each year.
In the past, there were two attempts to draft strategy for the regional integration of water management. One was created from 1995-97 with the help of the World Bank, another was drawn up in 1998-2001 by the Global Ecological Fund. Research used while creating the last program showed demand for water exceeds the natural supply by 1,5 times.
There was an attempt to reach a compromise by creating a new
regional strategy on agriculture and energy, however, it was ineffective as
“As a result, we do not have a working regional strategy for water management,” Sokolov points out. “What we have are only bilateral treaties.”