Central Asia is witnessing intense competition over water resources and their use for irrigation and hydropower generation. Despite general political commitment to cooperation, water policies in Central Asia are largely driven by uncoordinated and partly contradicting national strategies. This limited water cooperation, however, entails significant costs and major risks for the future development of the region.
“Rethinking Water in Central Asia” analyses these “costs of inaction” – defined here as the difference between the current, limited cooperation and the benefits that would result from full cooperation. Even if only parts of these costs are taken into account, they amount to more than US$ 4.5 billion per year for the whole region and are significant for each of the five countries studied. Due to deteriorating infrastructure, environmental degradation and demographic and economic pressures, these costs will increase if water management remains as it currently is.
By raising awareness of these costs of inaction, and by setting out a variety of pathways towards eliminating them in the future, the present report seeks to encourage and support Central Asian policy-makers in strengthening regional water cooperation and improved water governance. The costs of inaction mirror the potential benefits of water cooperation, and their scale hence demonstrates the scale of the benefits and opportunities that better water management and closer cooperation can deliver for Central Asia.
A policy brief summarizes the key messages of “Rethinking Water in Central Asia”. Both the policy brief and the report are also available in Russian.