Kazakhstan - NGO Zhalgas-Counterpart - Civil Society Support Centre in Almaty

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Rivers shared

The Chu-Talas rivers represent crucial sources of water for Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The rivers are utilized for agriculture, fish farming, hydroelectric power, and domestic needs. Typically, the sharing of water resources, in particular between upstream and downstream countries, can be characterized by tension and conflict. However, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan have found a mutually beneficial way to share the responsibility for maintenance and investment in the water infrastructure used by both countries. In a bilateral agreement signed in January 2000, Kazakhstan agreed to pay part of the operating and maintenance expenses for a number of Kyrgyz dams and reservoirs that supply water to both countries.

In February 2002, the Governments of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan submitted a request to the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) for assistance in establishing an intergovernmental transboundary water commission, including the development of the Commission statute and other actions aimed at the effective implementation of the bilateral agreement addressing the Chu and Talas rivers.

The Commission coordinates maintenance and use of infrastructure on the Chu and Talas rivers. These activities directly affect the population living in the regions adjacent to the two rivers. More than 1 million people in Kazakhstan and 1.2 million people in Kyrgyzstan live in this international water basin. The peoples living in the river basin are diverse in their origin, culture, and water management needs. It is crucial that they be involved in the process of water management


Stakeholders’ Participation and Public Awareness in Water Management Issues of the Border Rivers Chu and Talas

Focus Areas

Geographic Scope

;Kazakhstan: Almaty oblast, Zhambyl oblast, Southern Kazakhstan oblast, Kzyl-Orda oblast.


Zhalgas-Counterpart has been established within framework of the GEF/UNDP Small Grants Programme (SGP) and carries out consultations, monitoring and assessments of NGO projects in Zhambyl oblast, aiming at improvement of teh ecological situation. Furthermore, research on creation of a water protection zone in Zhambyl region is planned within the framework of this program.



Background and Significance

Sunset on Talas River
Sunset on Talas River

In January 2000, the Governments of the neighboring countries: the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Kazakhstan, signed an intergovernmental agreement on the use of water management infrastructure on the Chu and Talas rivers. According to the agreement, a permanent commission is to be established that should determine a regime of work of the water management infrastructure defining costs for the infrastructure exploitation and maintenance for each of the parties.

In February 2002, the Governments of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan submitted a request to the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) for assistance in establishing an intergovernmental transboundary water commission, including the development of the Commission statute and other actions aimed at the effective implementation of the bilateral agreement on the Chu and Talas rivers.

It is the intention that the implementation of this project would not only contribute to an improved cooperation between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan on the Chu and Talas rivers, but would also be an example for the whole region on improved cooperation on transboundary waters based on the outcome of the SPECA-project “Rational and Efficient Use of Energy and Water Resources in Central Asia” funded by UNDP.

The framework project proposal “Establishment of the Kazakh-Kyrgyz Transboundary Water Commission on the Chu and Talas Rivers” was prepared in March 2003. It was later discussed at the meeting of the project partners on 9-11 April 2003. The complete project proposal includes four work packages: WP1 - Development of the statute and regulations for the Bilateral Commission on the Chu and Talas rivers; WP2 - Allocation of costs for operation, management and rehabilitation of selected water control projects; WP3 - Public participation; and WP4 - Information about the project. Zhalgas-Counterpart lead the WP3 - Public participation.

Borovoe Lake
Borovoe Lake

Goal and Objectives

The aim is to develop the supply of information to and involvement of the public and stakeholders in the management of the river basin. This will include development of information channels to the public/stakeholders as well as establishment of opportunities for a dialogue.

Goals and Objectives of the Sub-project on Public Participation

  1. To find out the basic interested parties in region of transboundary waters, which are interested in water management of Chu-Talas rivers basin. On the basis of identification render to interested parties the help for holding communication with each other, for increasing of their abilities, for taking part in discussions on themes of transboundary water economy with authorities in Republics of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan
  2. To give the information to Commission and authorities engaged water economy in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, about interests and needs of the local interested parties in the field of water resources management in this region
  3. Through regular consultations with authorities on water economy theme, to establish procedures for involving stakeholders in preparation and decision-making process in water management in region of transboundary rivers Chui and Talas, to have regular communication , if it is necessary to create cooperation between authorities and stakeholders.
  4. To develop the offers for involving public in transboundary waters management for longer period in the future, through creating a basin Council and developing the plan of public participation as a part of the general plan of a Commission, which guarantees execution of the Agreement about transboundary waters. Involvement of Stakeholders and Experts through the Establishment of a Water Council. Long-term Fund-raising for the Commission Capacity Building and Public Participation

The Experience: Challenges and Solutions


Development of the recommendations aimed on increasing of public participation in water resources management


Zhalgas-Counterpart lead the project

The stakeholders:

local water authorities, water users associations, mass-media

Partners in the Public Participation Sub-project were:

• Committee of Water Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan


• NGO Counterpart-Sheriktesh, Kyrgyz Republic

Lake Peipsi Center for Transboundary Cooperation

• Kazakh and Kyrgyz research organizations (one from each side)

• others


Population of tht Chui-Talas region


Location of the experience is Republic of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyz Republic (in area of Chui-talas basin)


The project was implemented during 2004-2005 years



  1. Analysis of the stakeholders
  2. Realization focus-groups in region
  3. Conducting of a Seminar for stakeholders on development of the joint plan of public participation process increasing
  4. Creation of a database of the interested parties in Chui-Talas region.

Results and Impact

NGO Zhalgas-Counterpart is a Civil Society Support Centre in Almaty. The area of its activity included four southern regions in the Republic of Kazakhstan:

  • Almaty oblast,
  • Zhambyl oblast,
  • Southern Kazakhstan oblast,
  • Kzyl-Orda oblast.

Zhalgas Counterpart plays an important role in the realization of projects aimed at involving the public in water management processes. We have carried out research/appraisals via focus groups exercises in Zhambyl region, which have allowed identifying urgent problems of its inhabitants related to water usage. This research/appraisals was/were carried out within the framework of the OSCE project on creation of the Chu-Talas River Basins Commission between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It became a basis for realization of water projects in region: international seminar for water stakeholders, consultations of water users within UNDP's small grants programme.

Lessons for Replication

Main Results


  1. Improvement of information exchange between stakeholders
  2. Revealing urgent problems of water usage
  3. Creation of the stakeholders' directory
  4. Development of public involving ways

Outlook (Conclusions and Next Steps)

Creation of base for improving and increasing of Chui-Talas basin Council activity, which provides public participation and information interchange between decision-makers and water users

Interviewees and Key Contacts

Gulnar Daniyarova, Manager

NGO Zhalgas-Counterpart

Testimonies and Stakeholder Perceptions

Timeframe & Status

Duration: 2004-2005 year.


See also

Kyrgyzstan/Kazakhstan - Formation of a Chu-Talas Rivers Commission

Development and implementation of the Lake Peipsi/Chudskoe Basin Management Program

Lessons from the Lake Peipsi/Chudskoe Basin Management Program

Water Knowledge Fair 2006


NGO Zhalgas-Counterpart

Transboundary Chu Talas River project website

External Resources


 Concept paper on public involvement in the Talas Chu Rivers Basins.doc  Kazakhstan NGO.doc

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