Special Programme on the Economies of Central Asia

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The UN Special Programme on the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA)

Name of Organization

Part of / Sub-organizations

Focus Areas

Geographic Scope


;Focal point in UNESCAP:

Mr. Raj Kumar

Principal Officer

Office of the Executive Secretary, UNESCAP

e-mail: kumar.unescap@un.org Tel.: +662 288 1610 Fax: +662 288 3030

Organization Websites



Key Resources

See also complete list of WaterWiki-documented Special Programme on the Economies of Central Asia-Publications

Work on the Ground

See also complete list of WaterWiki-documented Special Programme on the Economies of Central Asia-Projects


The UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) was launched in 1998 to strengthen sub-regional cooperation in Central Asia and its integration into the world economy. The members of SPECA are the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan, the Republic of Turkmenistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan. It is jointly supported and implemented by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE).


  • SPECA has not been very successful from the outset and it is acknowledged that it has not had the impact that was originally hoped. There are frequent questions from the international community about its continued relevance and what its role may be, especially in light of CAREC and its apparent progress.

At the meeting of the SPECA Working Group for Water and Energy in November 2005, the final resolution went some way to addressing that issue. One of the difficulties faced by the same high level technical and administrative people on the Working Group is the lack of access to their own ministers and other decision makers to discuss technical issues. Access may be facilitated through the SPECA structure. In other words, such representations can be made under the SPECA banner.

  • Secondly, SPECA has always had difficulty attracting money for projects that the Working Group identifies. One result is that their project list is made up from wish lists from countries- Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan rather than being generated by the specific needs for regional cooperation. Only a very few projects have actually received funding.

CAREC has money but not technical water people to identify needs. SPECA has technical people who can identify needs and no money. Through the SPECA apparatus, good project ideas can make their way to CAREC and potential funding sources.

Both of these potential purposes of the Working Group were included in the final resolution of the November meeting (though somewhat vaguely worded). It is a step forward but whether anything comes of it remains in question.

It must also be admitted that it took a stretch of the imagination to determine a purpose for the SPECA Working Group on Water and Energy. In reality it is doubtful if the W&E Working Group or SPECA itself has any real role to play in the future. UNECE and UNESCAP both support SPECA but I think this is a waste of their time, money and energy, which could be put to better use.

  • In the various discussions on the idea of a UN based commission for water management in Central Asia, it has often been stated that there is already UN involvement in the form of UNECE and UNESCAP supporting SPECA. But SPECA is not a water management organisation, it is seen by most as not very useful in the regional picture and its roles overlap with organisations which seem to be working better. UN involvement in SPECA weakens the argument for what may be a much better partnership arrangement in direct support for water management.


See also

UNECE Website on SPECA

UNECAP website on SPECA

External Resources


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