Water Issues – The Current and Future Challenges for Cooperation in Central Asia

Juraeva Nigora Amanullahanovna


Water has long been a major cause of conflict in Central Asia. The root of the problem is the disintegration of the resource-sharing system theSoviet Unionimposed on the region until its collapse in 1991.KyrgyzstanandTajikistanprovided water toKazakhstan,TurkmenistanandUzbekistanin summer and received Kazakh, Turkmen and Uzbek coal, gas and electricity in winter. The system had broken down by the late-1990s, and a plethora of bilateral and regional agreements and resolutions concluded in that decade failed to fix it. The inability of Bishkek,DushanbeandTashkentto resolve cross-border water problems has created instability in their common area. Strained ethnic relations and competition over water and land could be a deadly mix. Conflict in this volatile part ofCentral Asiarisks rapid, possibly irreversible regional destabilization. Irrigated agriculture is likely to continue to play a major role in Central Asia, particularly in theFerghanaValley.

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