Sarez Lake: risks and economic prospects

Sep 9, 2009


An international technical conference about Sarez Lake was held between September 2 – 4, 2009 in Nurek.


Meeting participants discussed the current situation, safety concerns, and prospects of rational use of the water resources of the lake situated in Gorno-Badakhshan Administrative Oblast in the east of Tajikistan. Sarez lake was formed in 1911 by a landslide that blocked the Murgab River in the aftermath of an earthquake. The natural dam created an 80 km2 surface, 500 m deep lake at an altitude of 3,200 m above sea level.


Mr. Murodali Alimardon, the Deputy Prime Minister, who opened the conference, exhorted international scientists and partners to conduct further hydrological, geological and seismic research on the lake and to reach a scientific and technical consensus on the safety and the economic opportunities of Sarez. There is potential for the clean fresh water mass to be exploited for drinking water and for the generation of hydro-electric power.


The conference resulted in a set of recommendations on the conduct of further scientific research and feasibility studies on investment opportunities, and on actions that will protect the population downstream from the lake, both in Tajikistan and in the neighboring countries of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.


The meeting was organized by the Committee of Emergency Situations and Civil Defense (CoES), with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).