INTERNATIONAL HYDRODIPLOMACY                                                                                                In Focus: Central Asia

Photo credit: Dr.Caroline Milow

On January 27, 2021 Dr. Caroline Milow, Progamme Manager of Green Central Asia together with Keynote Speaker, Dr. Dinara Ziganshina, Deputy Director, Scientific Information Center of Interstate Сommission for Water Coordination in Сentral Asia participated in the Joint Working Group on International and EU Water Diplomacy organized by the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation (KAS) and the EastWest Institute (EWI).

The Joint Working Group (JWG) series on EU’s water diplomacy was launched last year with respect to the three most water-stressed regions in the world: the Himalayas, Central Asia, and the Euphrates-Tigris. The second convening of the JWG was devoted to Central Asia, a region known for its broad and capacious transboundary river systems shared by the upstream countries, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and the downstream countries, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

The session brought together water experts from Central Asia along with representatives of the EU, GIZ, academia and international think tanks to jointly assess the current challenges which impede effective implementation of equitable allocation of water resources in Central Asia. The discussion commenced with an overview of the transboundary river networks in Central Asia - spotlight on the Aral Sea basin that is fed by two rivers, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya. In the 1960s, the Soviet government decided to divert the river waters to meet the irrigation demands for agriculture. The experts noted that this contributed to what came to be known as the “Aral Sea Disaster” – a crisis driven by the multifold effects of rising population, rapid irrigation, and deteriorating water infrastructures which ultimately led to the desiccation of the Aral Sea.

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