CAWSCI/Participating Partners


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edit Central Asia Water Sector Coordination Initiative (CAWSCI)
Processes | Projects | Partners

Participating partners to date:

Other potential partners and supporters (tbc): UNEP/GRID Arendal | Romania (EUWI-EECCA WG chair) | Italy | Finland | Open Society Institute | .. (additional partners continuously joining)
In Support of Governments and People of Kazakhstan | Kyrgyzstan | Tajikistan |Turkmenistan | Uzbekistan
The "Central Asia Water Sector Coordination Initiative (CAWSCI)" is aimed at facilitating a shared vision and aligned approaches among water sector partners. As such, this document is "a living document", reflecting work in progress and will be continuously updated by the Participating Partners. Certain elements of it are under development or revision, and will change in line with emerging issues, concrete processes, and activities.
All interested organizations are warmly welcome to actively participate in this process.

The goal of the Central Asia Water Sector Coordination Initiative is to map activities of the various international and regional partners involved in the water sector in Central Asia. The aim is to support information exchange and thus facilitate coordination amongst partners, projects and processes, by continuously identifying and describing:

Towards a Common Framework for Addressing Water Issues
In order to promote better alignment of (complementary) action in the water sector in Central Asia, the intended impact of the CAWSCI is to promote - and support - the creation of synergies amongst the various actors and their interventions, and to help avoid overlap or duplication through better coordination amongst participating partners of this initiative.

The long-term vision is a synchronized water sector with complementary interventions ultimately adding value for the beneficiary countries and populations, with jointly defined scopes, work divisions, and roles and responsibilities among the international and regional actors, as well as concrete collaboration in selected projects, processes or initiatives.


EU Water Initiative (EECCA Working Group)

(under Romanian Chairmanship)

The "EU Water Initiative – EECCA Component" is a partnership that seeks to improve the management of water resources in the EECCA region (Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia). The partnership was established between the EU and the EECCA countries at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. The objectives of the initiative are to:

  • Reinforce political will and commitment to action;
  • Make water governance effective and build institutional capacity;
  • Improve co-ordination and co-operation;
  • Increase the efficiency of existing EU aid flows.

The key problems and challenges in the EECCA countries will primarily be addressed through two thematic pillars:

  1. Water supply and sanitation, including financing of water infrastructure, and
  2. Integrated water resources management, including transboundary river basin management and regional seas issues.

The Partnership is intended to build on and reinforce existing partnerships and bilateral and regional programmes by bringing partners with related water activities together under a common framework. It is open to all stakeholders – governments, inter-governmental organizations, NGOs, academia, financing institutions, the private sector, etc. Initial partners include EECCA countries, EU Member States, other European countries, the European Commission, international organizations, European civil society and the private sector.

The current working approach is to instigate National Policy Dialogues between the EECCA countries and the international community with the following characteristics:

  • One strategic partner will take the lead in the National Dialogue with each EECCA country. The lead partner might be an EU member state, a non-EU member state that is already engaged in assistance to the region, such as Switzerland or Norway, or even an international organisation. Lead partners might call on assistance from other partners of the EUWI as necessary to provide specific inputs;
  • The strategic partner will work with the EECCA country to monitor progress towards EUWI goals and to identify the priorities and the action plan to attain the targets;
  • In the hypothesis where such a strategic partner couldn’t be identified, an appropriate mechanism should be developed.

The strategic partner will make available the whole range of tools that have been developed to assist countries in their reform process, including guidelines for monitoring and assessment, for financing environmental investments, and for reforming the WSS sector. The partner will respond to requests from the EECCA country for specific information and advice and, where appropriate, will assist the country to carry out further detailed analyses that are specific to the local conditions.

United Nations Development Programme

UNDP is the UN’s global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. UNDP is present in all Central Asian and neighbouring countries through country offices, and supporting the human development agenda through a wide array of concrete projects on the ground. Based on the key findings and recommendation Human Development Report 2006 “Beyond Scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis” (UNDP 2006), UNDP revised its global strategic approach, re-focusing and thus strengthening “Water governance” and building on four strategic pillars. In the Central Asian context, they encompass providing support to the governments and civil society to:

  1. Develop and implement national strategies to introduce Integrated Water Resources Management and improve water efficiency at local, River Basin, and national level;
  2. Assess the national situation and develop strategic approaches to improve Access to Water Supply & Sanitation services, adopting a Human Rights-based and UN-coordinated approach as feasible;
  3. Assess and prepare for emerging challenges due to Climate Change; and
  4. Foster transboundary dialogues among and beyond the five Central Asian countries.
A programmatic approach

Based on the fact that several regional agreements have proven ineffective, sector donors have started refocusing on bi-lateral agreements and national IWRM capacity. While the Aral Sea Basin is closed (water is limiting) developed land, equipped with functional infrastructure, is the resource. Therefore, rather than absolute scarcity, improved Water Governance and sectoral service delivery are among the key water management challenges in Central Asia. Furthermore, addressing the water problems in an integrated, cross-sector manner could be the backbone to addressing energy and agriculture production issues more broadly. UNDP, building on its presence on the ground and proven expertise in a broad array of development themes, has decided to strategically strengthen its sub-regional capacity in the field of IWRM and WSS, i.a. through a planned UNDP-EC programme entitled “Promoting IWRM and Fostering Transboundary Dialogue in Central Asia”. The aim is to support the Central Asian governments not only on policy advice (at national and regional level), but in combination with concrete, strategic and integrated projects (at national and local level – and in cooperation with various partners) that aim mainly at capacity strengthening, facilitating national policy implementation and coordination at different levels.

European Commission (EC)

As the executive body of the European Union (EU), the European Commission (EC) is responsible to the implementing of the EU Central Asia Strategy for a New Partnership (October 2007). Water has been agreed among one of the primary focus of this Strategy. Therefore, the EC cooperation efforts are essentially framed in the context of the EU Water Initiative for Eastern Europe and Central Asia that draws from relevant EU Member States' experience, as well as internationally accepted practice, to help establishing a safe and integrated water resources management (IWRM) through different actions to:

  • Promote trans-boundary river basin management as well as regional cooperation under the Environmental Convention of the Caspian Sea;
  • Give particular support to the integrated management of surface and underground trans-boundary water resources, including the introduction of techniques for a more efficient water use (irrigation and other techniques);
  • Enhance cooperation for appropriate frameworks for facilitating the financing of water related infrastructure projects, including through attracting IFI’s and public-private partnership funds;
  • Support regional capacity building on integrated water management (IWRM) and production of hydropower;

The EC is directly responsible for managing the Indicative Programme 2007-2010 for assistance to Central Asia, funded by the EU budget. Cooperation on environment and water is one of the central priorities of this Programme that is already financing (or preparing) projects in different areas, to support in particular regional water governance, trans-boundary river basin cooperation, trans-boundary groundwater management and water management to climate adaptation.

In accordance with the priorities defined by the EU CA Water Expert Group, a number of important initiatives and assistance projects by the EC have been agreed:

  1. National Water Policy Dialogues will be launched in Central Asia, starting with Kyrgyzstan in 2008, and Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in early 2009 with the support of the Commission. This is an important step that will promote a coherent approach throughout the region and beyond with EU Neighbours, building a common water policy frame for cooperation across borders and enhancing effectiveness of water sector policies; it will also promote coordination of international support;
  2. A project supporting trans-boundary river basin cooperation between neighbours, including the Ily Balkash catchment area, ( € 1,5 M for the EC contribution), as well as pilot trans-border river basin management exercise between Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and if possible Uzbekistan, is to be launched jointly with UNDP and implemented by the latter (see Description provided by UNDP);
  3. A regional water governance assistance programme has been launched to reinforce water basin management planning and promote coherent water quality standards throughout the region, using the European Union Water Framework Directive as guidance (€ 2M). It includes 2 projects: “Water Governance in Central Asia” (consultancy) and “Harmonization and Approximation of Water Standards and Norms in Central Asia” (implemented by CA-REC).
  4. A regional programme has been partly endorsed focusing on water issues that build on consensus among the five Central Asia states such as environmental quality or hydrology, comprising four projects,
    1. 2 projects on trans-boundary groundwater management (adopted for € 4 M in 2008);
    2. Water management to Climate adaptation (€ 4 M planned for 2009), including regional joint measures for hydrological risk reduction associated with climate variability and community based adaptation measures to increase resilience to climate variability in rural transboundary areas;
    3. Institution Building partnerships between EU and Central Asia river basin districts (€ 3,5M planned in 2009).

More EC water projects for Central Asia are also funded in 2008-2009 under environmental thematic lines (e.g. “Developing Sustainable Hydro Technology in Kyrgyzstan”) and through EC support to CA-REC and to a World Bank’s initiative (“Ust Kamenogorsk-Environmental Remediation Project”).

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

The broad aim of UNECE environment activities is to safeguard the environment and human health, and to promote sustainable development in its member countries in line with Agenda 21. The practical aim is to reduce pollution so as to minimize environmental damage and avoid compromising environmental conditions for future generations. To this end, UNECE has adopted a four-pronged approach:

  1. To bring together governments to formulate environmental policy and support its implementation;
  2. To take an active role in regional and cross-sectoral processes, especially the Environment for Europe Ministerial process;
  3. To assess, through Environmental Performance Reviews, individual countries’ efforts to bring down pollution levels and manage their natural resources; and
  4. To implement five environmental conventions, including the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes.

Under the latter task, a number of projects are of particular relevance for the National Policy Dialogues. These include in the order of priority:

  1. The protection and use of the water resources and eco-systems of the Chu-Talas river basins (project implemented in cooperation with OSCE), shared by Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan
  2. The forthcoming project on water quality in Central Asia (project implemented in cooperation with OSCE)
  3. The Assessment of Transboundary Rivers, Lakes and Groundwaters in the UNECE Region
  4. The Central Asia Regional Water Information Base (CAREWIB) (project implemented in cooperation with SIC-ICWC and UNEP/Grid-Arendal); and
  5. Capacity building for cooperation on dam safety in Central Asia, under the ENVSEC initiative.

OECDEnvironmental Action Programme (EAP) Task Force

The OECD is a unique forum where the governments of 30 democracies work together to address the economic, social and environmental challenges of globalisation. The OECD is also at the forefront of efforts to understand and to help governments respond to new developments and concerns, such as corporate governance, the information economy and the challenges of an ageing population. The Organisation provides a setting where governments can compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practice and work to co-ordinate domestic and international policies.

The OECD member countries are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The Commission of the European Communities takes part in the work of the OECD.

Since 1993, the OECD acts as secretariat for the Task Force for the Implementation of the Environmental Action Programme for Central and Eastern Europe (EAP Task Force). The Task Force was created to support the integration of the environment into the broader process of economic and political reform in transition economies. Since 2001, the EAP Task Force has a water programme that focuses on the institutional, economic and financial reforms that are needed to improve access to water supply and sanitation in the EECCA region and to achieve the related MDGs.

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

With 56 participating States from Europe, Central Asia and North America, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) forms the largest regional security organization in the world. The OSCE is a primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation in its area. It has 19 missions or field operations in South East Europe, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

The Organization deals with three dimensions of security - the politico-military, the economic and environmental, and the human dimension. It therefore addresses a wide range of security-related concerns, including arms control, confidence- and security-building measures, human rights, national minorities, democratization, policing strategies, counter-terrorism and economic and environmental activities. All 56 participating States enjoy equal status, and decisions are taken by consensus on a politically, but not legally binding basis.

The Office of the Coordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities organizes the annual Economic and Environmental Forum process, where water management issues have been discussed under several occasions. In the 2007 Ministerial meeting, among the 56 Foreign Ministers, a Ministerial Decision on Water Management was taken, where, providing a framework for dialogue; encouraging continued partnerships between participating States and with relevant international organizations that focus on water management; paying attention to transboundary issues of water management; promoting public participation and; promoting good governance and combating corruption in the water sector were areas of relevance to the organization. The OSCE Secretariat manages regional projects while the field presences enjoy national mandates.

Current projects in Central Asia include:

  1. The protection and use of the water resources and eco-systems of the Chu-Talas river basin (project implemented in cooperation with UNECE), shared by Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan;
  2. Supporting dialogue on transboundary water management (recently with IFAS and ICWC)

Switzermand (SDC / seco)

Adequate water management and, in particular irrigation focused Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), has been a core thrust since the year 2000 and continues to be so within the Swiss Cooperation Strategy for the Central Asia Region 2007-2011.

The SDC approach in the water sector promises higher water and land productivity, enhanced interest in adequate irrigation and drainage infrastructure operation and management and ultimately enhanced maintenance contributions by farmers. Specifically, SDC experience in the facilitation of water users’ transparent and participatory decision making as well as in promoting adequate asset operation and management concepts, holds the promise of more effective utilisation of and higher return on investments provided by the banks. Scaling up by collaboration with IFIs was therefore also one of the key recommendations by the SDC’s IWRM project review team in October 2007. SDC recently signed a credit proposal for the up-scaling of IWRM project with the World Bank. The RESP II project of the WB provides the opportunity to combine SDC’s institutional and organizational approach with substantial water infrastructures rehabilitation.

Moreover, ADB is also planning an irrigation infrastructure rehabilitation project in other areas of the Ferghana Valley including establishing a trans-boundary Syr Darya management commission. ADB has already expressed its interest to team up with SDC with respect to water management. In short, the collaboration with RISP II would be the first joint venture to scale up experience developed by SDC in an area, where several initiatives are being planned.

Central Asia Regional Environmental Centre (CA-REC)

CA-REC promotes through the Central Asian Initiative on Sustainable Development the multi-sectoral dialogue and cooperation on Environment and Natural Resources. CAI is a platform for Central Asian countries to represent and present their interests in the Environment for Europe process. Then, CAI is recognized and well mentioned in EU Strategy for Central Asia as dialogue based Initiative strongly supported by Central Asia countries. Coordinated approach in water management is a key water related topic of the CAI with focuses on:

  • Goal 1. “Provide sustainable functioning of water basins’ ecosystems that are important for vital activity. Prevent degradation of water basins’ ecosystems that provide vital functions in the sub-region”.
  • Goal 2. “Transition to rational water use and widening of access of population to drinking water”.

CA-REC established “Water Initiative Support” programme for realization these goals. In order to meet the water quality and management needs of Central Asia under the CAI focuses, CA-REC has previously and continues to implement the following projects:

  1. Development of the Integrated Management Plan of Ili-Balkhash Basin;
  2. Local multisectoral efforts for the CAI Water Dialogue;
  3. Performance of Technical Secretariat (TS) functions for IBB;
  4. Water Quality in Central Asia;
  5. Harmonization and Approximation of Water Standards and Norms in Central Asia;
  6. Water supply for of the Kazakhstan.

Germany – Ministry of Foreign Affairs / GTZ


The World Bank – Central Asia Office (tbc)


Capacity Building for IWRM (Cap-Net)

Cap-Net is UNDP’s capacity building programme in integrated water resources management. It aims to contribute to improving livelihoods, reducing poverty and promoting environmental sustainability through enhancing capacities in sustainable management of water resources and improved access to basic water services.

An international network, Cap-Net is composed of three components:
  1. regional and country level networks made up of capacity building institutions;
  2. international thematic networks working in areas relevant to IWRM; and
  3. global partners who make use of the Cap-Net structure to improve outreach for their programmes.

Although physically separate, Cap-Net is an integrated part of the UNDP Water Governance Programme. It is partner of the Global Water Partnership (GWP) and in the regions the networks affiliated with Cap-Net work closely together regional water partnerships for the delivery of capacity building activities. In it’s present phase Cap-Net’s funding partners are the Dutch and Sweden (donor profile)Swedish Governments and the EU Water Facility.

The three building blocks of Cap-Net’s work
are to strengthen networks and network operations, improve the delivery of IWRM relevant capacity building by network partners, and enhance knowledge management, from the development of training packages, improve communication to database management and development of network management tools.
In Central Asia
Cap-Net partners up with GWP-CACENA and ICWC-TC, the training centres of the Interstate Commission for Water Coordination in Central Asia. The work programme for 2009 includes, but is not limited to, the following training activities:
  • IWRM at regional and local level, including legal aspects;
  • Climate change and IWRM;
  • Economic instruments and cooperation between countries in the region.


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Norway - Ministry of Environment; Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Other organizations and countries considering to join this initiative

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