Central Asia

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Central Asia is part of / comprises: · Asia & Pacific · Central Asia · Europe & CIS ·
Countries of Central Asia: · Kazakhstan · Kyrgyzstan · Tajikistan · Turkmenistan · Uzbekistan ·
Water Basins of Central Asia: · Amu Darya · Aral Sea · Atrak · Caspian · Chu-Talas · Ferghana Valley · Hari-Harirud · Isfara · Lake Ubsa-Nur · Murgab · Nura · Ob · Oral-Ural · Pu Lun To · Syr Darya · Tarim · Ural · Vahksh · Zarafshan ·
edit Facts & Figures
Area 3,994,400 km2
  Land 3,917,300 km2
  Water 77,100 km2
Population 58,022,270
Population Density 15 /km2
UN Presence
Land Use:
Cultivated Land 316,673 km2
  Arable 309,616 km2
  Permanent Crops 7,057 km2
Irrigated Land 114,310 km2
Average Annual Rainfall 368 mm
Total Available Renewable Water Resources 389 km3
Total Water Withdrawals 140 km3/yr
References and Remarks

> Articles | Projects & Case studies | Publications & Web resources | Who is who | Maps

Latest 4 maps for / including Central Asia (more..):




Region Profile: Climate, Geography, Socio-Economic Context

edit  ·  Region Central Asia
  Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Tajikistan Turkmenistan Uzbekistan


Ferghana Valley part of Europe & CIS | EECCA


Afghanistan | Pakistan | Russia | China (Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region) | India


Aral Sea Basin | Amu Darya | Syr Darya


Zarafshan | Ferghana Valley

Key resources:

Water Sector Review | CAREWIB | ADB - Donor Project Matrix on Central Asia | Report:Water, Climate, and Development Issues in the Amudarya Basin | Report: Irrigation in Central Asia: Social, Economic and Environmental Considerations

Selected external resources:

CAREWIB | ADB - About the CA Region] |

The Central Asian region is located in the center of the Eurasian continent. The region in the narrow sense consists of the five former Soviet republics - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. In the wider geographical and particularly water-related context, also parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China (PRC), and even India should be considered from case to case. Mongolia lies on the upper portion of the PRC; Azerbaijan in the Caucasus, lies on the western side of the Caspian Sea opposite to Turkmenistan.

Region Profile: Water Bodies and Resources

edit  ·  Toolkit Water Supply and Sanitation in Central Asia (FAQ: WSS in Central Asia)
Financing Rural WSS in Tajikistan (Country background / Socio-Economic context / Water-Policy context / The State of the Water-Sector / The FEASIBLE-model / Applying the FEASIBLE-model / Baseline Scenarios / Bibliography) | Kyrgyzstan WSS Financing NPD (First Steering Group Report / ...)
The Water-Energy Situation in Central Asia

With the breakup of the Soviet Union the elaborate set of water and energy sharing agreements among the Soviet republics of Central Asia largely broke down and the previously integrated regional water and electricity infrastructure became fragmented and suffered from a lack of maintenance. With overuse and, in particular, poor water management, agricultural yields stagnated or fell, and the water levels in of the Aral Sea continued to dropped precipitously, leaving behind a mere remnant of what was previously one of the largest inland seas in the World. As a result the provinces around the Aral Sea, in particular the Karakalpakstan region of Uzbekistan, suffered great hardships and increases in poverty. While the Central Asian republics of the Former Soviet Union avoided open conflict and military hostilities over scarce water resources, their relations have been strained. This is particularly the case, for relations especially between “upstream” Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, which use the Aral Sea Basin’s water resources to generate hydroelectricity in the winter, and “downstream” countries (particularly Uzbekistan) which need the water for summer irrigation purposes, and which sometimes experience flooding from upstream countries’ winter water releases.

Against this backdrop, a water and energy situation that is difficult and tense at best during years of normal weather can quickly deteriorate into a major humanitarian, economic and political crisis for the region. This and next year shape up to be particularly problematic, since normal climatic cycles (probably linked to the El Nino-La Nina phenomenon) appear to be intensifying and are overlaid on the long-term effects of global warming. The last major drought in the region occurred in 2000-01. It affected not only the republics of the Former Soviet Union, but also Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Mongolia, with devastating effects on the region’s agricultural production.

Above-average warming and glacial retreat will exacerbate the water, agricultural and distributional problems in the region which is already characterized by political and social tensions over access to water and energy resources. Central Asian region loses US$1.7 billion, or 3% of GDP, annually because of inefficient water resources management. The annual decrease in agricultural production is estimated at US$2 billion; and the energy production from hydro-resources is at high risk. These are largely attributed to climate change that is characterized by steady warming with increasing aridity. Reducing the increasing likelihood of crop failures and risks to sustainable food production mainly due to elevated temperatures and duration of droughts is another pressing issue requiring urgent adaptation. The latest estimations indicate that crop production will decrease by 30% in Central Asia by 2050, unless adaptation measures implemented in the sectors of water and agriculture.

The looming "compound crisis" on water-energy-food

Central Asia’s poorest countries find themselves particularly vulnerable to food, water, and energy insecurities. Tajikistan experienced a “compound crisis” during the winter of 2007-2008, as the exceptionally cold weather across Central Asia caused breakdowns in the country’s energy infrastructure and damaged winter crops and reduced livestock herds. Slower economic growth and significantly higher food prices resulted—which were subsequently exacerbated by global trends and by the onset of drought conditions in the spring and summer. According to government officials, the water level at Tajikistan’s Nurek hydro power station in early July was some 7 meters below earlier year levels, and was not much above the “dead level”, below which hydropower cannot be generated. In order to ensure that hydroelectric resources will be sufficient to get the country through the winter of 2008-2009, the authorities have announced a series of emergency measures, including limits (with selective cut-offs) on household and industrial electricity deliveries effective 1 September.

While water, energy, and food insecurity is sharpest in Tajikistan, these concerns are increasingly making themselves felt in Kyrgyzstan as well. Government representatives in early July unofficially disclosed that the water level in the Toktogul reservoir at the top of the Naryn Cascade was some 10 metres down on year earlier levels, and were likewise flirting with the “deal level”. These concerns have been heightened by recent data from the Tashkent-based International Commission on Water Coordination, which shows water levels in the Toktogul, Chardara (in Kazakhstan), and Kairakum (in Tajikistan) reservoirs at unprecedentedly low levels. As in Tajikistan, the government in Kyrgyzstan has been forced to reduce household and industrial electricity deliveries. The higher global food and agricultural prices are also exacerbating the effects of last winter’s frosts, raising fresh concerns across the region about inflation, food security, poverty, and malnutrition. While record high global energy prices are providing a boon to net exporters Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, they are also adding to inflationary pressures in these countries.

Despite looming energy crisis and rising prices, energy production and consumption patterns in Central Asia remain highly inefficient with energy losses accounting for almost a third of total domestic energy use. The region possesses vast, but yet largely untapped resources of renewable energy, such as wind, hydro, and solar. Access to financing is a major barrier to clean energy investment and the record of leveraging resources from new markets such as carbon finance is extremely poor across the region.

Region Profile: Legal and Institutional Environment


UNDP is seeking to pro-actively help Central Asia’s governments to better manage these development risks, and to alleviate their negative impact on vulnerable regions and social groups with a four-pronged approach:

1. Integrated water resource management and water efficiency strategies (IWRM Strategies) at the national and basin level
Building on the experience of a successful similar project in Kazakhstan, UNDP focuses on concrete interventions, such as improving irrigated agriculture, rural water supply and sanitation (WSS), and small-scale hydropower service delivery on one hand, while promoting an integrated approach of water resources management with necessary institutional reform and capacity building on the other. At the same time UNDP is also fostering transboundary dialogue, in Central Asia and beyond, through linked interventions at the national and transboundary levels. Specifically in the Ili-Balkhash River Basin, the aim is to foster transboundary dialogue and enhance cooperation between Kazakhstan and the People’s Republic of China for the improved management of the shared River Basin system and its resources, whil in other target sub-basins community-level cooperation across bodrers is in the forefront. On a regional basis, UNDP’s interventions aim at efficient and effective management, as well as cooperation amongst a variety of projects focusing on the water and related sectors, as well as trans-regional coordination and capacity building interventions.
2. Energy Efficiency/Renewable Energy
Despite looming energy crisis and rising prices, energy production and consumption patterns in Central Asia remain highly inefficient with energy losses accounting for almost a third of total domestic energy use. The region possesses vast, but yet largely untapped resources of renewable energy, such as wind, hydro, and solar. Access to financing is a major barrier to clean energy investment and the record of leveraging resources from new markets such as carbon finance is extremely poor across the region. To provide for more secure and sustainable energy systems, UNDP helps countries identify, finance and implement cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects while at the same time enhancing quality, reliability and affordability of energy services to final consumers. This is being achieved through:
  1. development of enabling legal and regulatory frameworks (i.e. new Heat Law and Renewable Energy Law in Kazakhstan, Energy Efficient Building Codes in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan);
  2. implementation of demonstration projects to show-case viability of new technologies such as wind power (Kazakhstan), solar water heating and solar PVs (Uzbekistan), biogas (Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan); and
  3. leveraging carbon finance to increase profitability of investments in clean energy through UNDP’s MDG Carbon Facility (Uzbekistan).
3. Adaptation to Climate Change
UNDP’s response is to strengthen the adaptive capacities of the institutions that plan and decide on water and land use practices, as well as improving the preparedness and responses to more volatile drought and flood cycles. The key priorities in Central Asia for UNDP are: improving rural water management in the Issyk Kul region, food security initiative in Karakalpakstan province of Uzbekistan and improving water and flood management in Fergana Valley. UNDP is currently developing a regional initiative to address some aspects of food security issue by using a farm-based agrobiodiversity conservation as a strategy to adapt. However, due to the complexity of the adaptation issues in the region UNDP anticipates to develop a partnership umbrella programme on Adaptation that will take programmatic and more comprehensive approach to climate risk management in this highly vulnerable region.
4. The commissioning of an in-depth assessment
of the likelihood and possible characteristics of a potential regional compound crisis, via the articulation of various risk (and risk management) scenarios, developed along the water/energy/food security axes, and reflecting the inter-country linkages within (and, where necessary, outside of) Central Asia (e.g., pertaining to Afghanistan’s use of the water resources of the Amu Darya basin). This assessment will also examine the lessons learned from Tajikistan’s compound crisis during the past winter, as well as from the severe drought that afflicted Central Asia during 2000-2001. The outcome of this assessment will form the basis for a more effective and coordinated assistance of the international community to the governments of the region, so that they are better prepared to manage risks related to food, water and energy security. One objective of the assessment is also to link emergency, humanitarian and developmental assistance in the most effective fashion.
Possibilities for expanded cooperation with the Russian Federation

The Russian Federation is a key partner for all the Central Asian countries: as a trading partner, investor, member of such regional organizations as the CIS, EurAsEC, and SCO, and increasingly as a donor. UNDP in Russia is working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, inter alia to support the implementation of the Russian Federation’s Concept of Russia’s Participation in International Development Cooperation, which designates Central Asia as a priority for Russia’s expanding ODA activities. In this context, UNDP can assist the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by administering the Russian ODA activities in Central Asia through a Russian UNDP Trust Fund that will ensure Russian ownership and decision-making with regard to its ODA funds entrusted to UNDP. In Central Asia, UNDP’s cooperation with the Russian Federation can be extended to the private sector for example, Russian companies investing in energy projects (e.g. hydropower rehabilitation in Tajikistan) can benefit from MDG Carbon Facility’s technical and financial services to attract additional financial resources from carbon foreign market.

Region Profile: Trends in Transboundary Water Management

Region Profile: Challenges and Opportunities


Recently updated articles on Central Asia
  1. WSS ‎(9,413 views) . . Katy.norman
  2. Template:WSS in Central Asia Toolkit ‎(2,471 views) . . Katy.norman
  3. Template:CAWSCI ‎(10,351 views) . . Katy.norman
  4. Status and plans of EECCA countries in fulfilling the WSSD target on IWRM-plans by 2005 ‎(2,984 views) . . Katy.norman
  5. Swiss Water Strategy for Central Asia 2002-2006 ‎(2,681 views) . . Katy.norman
  6. IWRM in Central Asia and Caucasus ‎(4,347 views) . . Katy.norman
  7. Emergency Rehabilitation of Rural Water Supply Systems in Khatlon and Sughd Regions of Tajikistan ‎(4,331 views) . . Katy.norman
  8. Image:Wegerich 2009 Shifting to hydrological boundaries.PDF ‎(1,182 views) . . Aigerim D
  9. CAWSCI/Programmes, Projects and Interventions ‎(8,836 views) . . Aigerim D
  10. CAWSCI ‎(47,708 views) . . Aigerim D

See the complete list of WaterWiki articles on Central Asia

Projects and Case Studies

Projects in or about Central Asia

(this is a list of the 15 most recently updated entries. To see all projects click here)

  1. East-Caspian Assessment of Environment and Security Linkages and Impact ‎(3,220 views) . . Katy.norman
  2. Amu Darya Assessment of Environment and Security Linkages and Impact ‎(4,535 views) . . Katy.norman
  3. Promoting IWRM and Fostering Transboundary Dialogue in Central Asia ‎(18,883 views) . . Katy.norman
  4. National IWRM and Water Efficiency Plan for Kazakhstan ‎(23,552 views) . . Katy.norman
  5. Harmonization and Approximation of Water Standards and Norms in Central Asia ‎(4,314 views) . . Katy.norman
  6. Promoting Cooperation to Adapt to Climate Change in the Chu-Talas Transboundary Basin ‎(4,771 views) . . Katy.norman
  7. Setting up a Project Formulation and Coordination Support group for sustainable transboundary management of radioactive waste in Central Asia ‎(1,881 views) . . Katy.norman
  8. A comprehensive study on glacial melting in Central Asia ‎(2,284 views) . . Katy.norman
  9. Capacity for Water Cooperation Project ‎(3,431 views) . . Katy.norman
  10. Central Asia – Regional and National Water Sector Review ‎(19,811 views) . . Juerg.staudenmann
  11. Water Flume Metres for Water User Associations ‎(3,025 views) . . WikiBot
  12. Water Productivity Improvement at Plot Level ‎(2,578 views) . . WikiBot
  13. The Swiss Support to Hydro-meteorological Services in the Aral Sea basin Project ‎(2,794 views) . . WikiBot
  14. Rural Enterprise Support Project II ‎(2,129 views) . . WikiBot
  15. Regional Rural Water Supply Project (SDC) ‎(2,573 views) . . WikiBot

Case studies in or about Central Asia

(by popularity)

  1. Water Conflict and Cooperation/Aral Sea Basin ‎(27,132 views) . . Katy.norman
  2. Facing Water Challenges in the Aral Sea, Uzbekistan:A WWDR3 Case Study ‎(22,359 views) . . WikiBot
  3. Lessons on Cooperation Building to Manage Water Conflicts in the Aral Sea Basin ‎(7,294 views) . . Katy.norman

See the complete list of WaterWiki documented projects in Central Asia


5 most recently updated publications on Central Asia
  1. Adapting to Climate Change in Europe and Central Asia - World Bank Report June 2009 ‎(4,669 views) . . Katy.norman
  2. World Bank Report - Millennium Development Goals: Progress and Prospects in Europe and Central Asia ‎(3,006 views) . . Katy.norman
  3. Water Resources in Europe and Central Asia ‎(3,840 views) . . Katy.norman
  4. Water Energy Nexus in Central Asia ‎(2,445 views) . . Katy.norman
  5. RBEC Background Paper for G12 on Regional Seas Programmes ‎(3,279 views) . . Katy.norman

5 most popular publications on Central Asia
  1. Water Conflict and Cooperation/Aral Sea Basin ‎(27,132 views) . . Katy.norman
  2. Lessons on Cooperation Building to Manage Water Conflicts in the Aral Sea Basin ‎(7,294 views) . . Katy.norman
  3. ADB - Donor Project Matrix on Central Asia ‎(6,144 views) . . WikiBot
  4. Central Asia Regional Environmental Action Plan for Water Pollution ‎(5,136 views) . . Katy.norman
  5. Irrigation in Central Asia: Social, Economic and Environmental Considerations ‎(5,106 views) . . WikiBot

See the complete list of WaterWiki documented publications on Central Asia

Who is Who

People working in Central Asia
  1. Siegfried Leffler ‎(5,245 views)
  2. Christina.carlson ‎(4,941 views)

See the complete list of Waterwiki users working in Central Asia

Organizations working in Central Asia
  1. UNRCCA ‎(3,928 views) . . WikiBot
  2. Special Programme on the Economies of Central Asia ‎(5,987 views) . . Katy.norman
  3. SIC ICWC ‎(6,463 views) . . Katy.norman
  4. Kazakhstan Water Partnership ‎(3,372 views) . . WikiBot
  5. IFAS ‎(19,322 views) . . Juerg.staudenmann
  6. ICWC ‎(5,599 views) . . Katy.norman
  7. CAREC - Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation ‎(8,433 views) . . Katy.norman

See the complete list of WaterWiki documented organizations in Central Asia


See also

External Resources


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