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Central Asian water: problems and future!

IN Central Asia, there have been steps to resolve one of the key problems of the region – the section of water resources. However, as far as the establishment of bilateral agreements between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. If you can not sit all five countries (Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan) at a negotiating table and come to a consensus on the water throughout the region, then it is possible that a conflict could break out over water in Central Asia in the near future. Central Asia is one of the water-scarce regions of the world. At the same time intra-regional water balance is distributed very unevenly. Two states – Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, while in the upper reaches of the river are vodoizbytochnymi, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, as the main consumers of water resources, their lack of experience. But Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, thus, are energy-deficient countries.

Such water-energy distribution was determined water management system in the days of the Soviet Union: the top of the country received the missing energy to them, and the bottom – water. The scheme was simple. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in the winter the water accumulated in the reservoirs of its Nurek, Toktogul Kairakkum and summer dumped it for irrigation of arable land in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. In exchange for this winter in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan received electricity and gas. However, such a barter exchange system collapsed with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Countries have moved to market relations. And then Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were in advance of unequal conditions. After all, if the electricity they bought for the money, the water had to be given for free.

It is natural that Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan reaction was the desire to ensure its own energy security through the construction of the Rogun (on the Vakhsh River) and Dashtijum HPP (on the river Panj) in Tajikistan and Kambarata two (on the Naryn River) in Kyrgyzstan. This, of course, provoked strong protests from the main water consumer in the region – Uzbekistan. Tashkent seriously feared that the Kambarata and Rogun projects violate international law and will result in the reduction of access to water, and as a result, can cause significant ecological and economic damage. Environmental – the reduction of the already low water inflow from the Uzbek side of the Aral Sea. Economic – loss of Uzbekistan in cotton growing – the main water consuming country’s culture. However, there is another version – HPP built in Kyrgyzstan, especially in Tajikistan, will compete with the export of Uzbek electricity to power-hungry South Asian markets.

However, if in the region today, and there are negotiations, they are more on a bilateral basis between the states. Although each side understands that in order to achieve a reasonable distribution of interests and schemes of water use benefits at the negotiating table should be in all the participants. That is, all five states of the region. There is one important thing: the quality of the water use in the region. In the presence of water scarcity in the lower reaches of rivers, the country quite thoughtlessly refer to water use. The Central Asian States consumes more water per capita than people in any other region of the planet.

The most sensible approach to water use today shows Kazakhstan (it is in the “end of the waterway” and had, as they say here, to save every drop). In the southern regions of the country are now actively cultivated drip irrigation. In addition, Kazakhstan has managed to reach an agreement with Kyrgyzstan on the interchange of electricity “at a conventional price.” In August, Kyrgyzstan gave energy to Kazakhstan, and in the fall – get it back. At the same time, in the Uch-Kurgkanskoy HPP water releases made in the amount of 350 cubic meters / sec for selhozpotrebiteley Kazakhstan.

That is, in fact, has been restored barter system: the water in exchange for energy. Energy recovery from Kazakhstan, not only saves the favorable volume of Toktogul reservoir for the autumn and winter, but most importantly, saved water and energy balance. (It is noteworthy that Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan for the first time the country’s negotiations involved not only individual negotiators on energy and water, but both problems discussed together). Oddly enough, but a similar approach has not yet been used in Uzbek talks with neighboring states. Border tensions between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan fueled the unresolved dispute over rights to use Ortho-Tokoy (Kasansay or as it is called in Uzbekistan) reservoir, which supplies water to both republics. Built during the Soviet years the reservoir has been the object of a dispute between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan since the country gained independence states.

In fact, these are an indicator of the collision, saying that if the state does not immediately sit down at the negotiating table a single, all together, in the very near future the region can expect a war for resources. Countries Finally, we should recognize the interdependence. And use their abilities for the benefit not only themselves, but also their neighbors, to ensure development of the region as a whole. By this, in fact, encourages the creation of the Union of Central Asian states, the discussion of which prospects are the last few years. At present, it can become the only place to find a consensus beneficial to all countries. And he, judging by the last quarter of the century the situation is, to begin with, in restoring a reasonable water and energy balance of the system.

Source: Pakistan Observer