Recently, the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program introduced agriculture and water as a new cluster in its strategic framework. Recognizing the complexities of the water sector and the existing landscape of cooperation activities, the strategic framework proposes a complementary approach that uses the strengths of CAREC to further promote dialogue on water issues. A scoping study was commissioned, supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), to develop a framework for the Water Pillar for further consideration by the governing bodies of CAREC. It was agreed that the initial focus of the Water Pillar should be on the five Central Asian states with consideration given to expanding to other CAREC member countries over time.

The objective of the study is to develop the scope of a Water Pillar Framework that includes a roadmap of national development interventions for each of the five Central Asian Republics that responds to the prevailing challenges and opportunities in water resources management.

The framework will be derived from three specific outputs:

  • Output 1: Projection of future availability and demand for water resources for the Central Asia region up to 2050 including implications of climate change.
  • Output 2: Identification of future water resources development and management opportunities in the form of a sector specific framework for water resources infrastructure taking into consideration sustainability issues through a comparative assessment of cost recovery mechanisms and operation and maintenance (O&M) practices.
  • Output 3: Preparation of a framework for policy and institutional strengthening that addresses common themes and issues related to national water resources legislation and the capacity and knowledge development needs of water resources agencies with an emphasis on economic aspects and sustainable financing.

For this work, several consultants were recruited. FutureWater provides key inputs on the climate change and water resources aspects, including desk review, stakeholder consultations across the five regions and across all sectors, and analysis of climate change risks and identification of adaptation options that have a regional dimension and can be taken up through regional or bilateral cooperation.

Water resources management in the Central Asia region faces big challenges. The hydrological regimes of the two major rivers in the region, the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya, are complex and vulnerable to climate change. Water diversions to agricultural, industrial and domestic users have reduced flows in downstream regions, resulting in severe ecological damages. The administrative-institutional system is fragmented, with six independent countries sharing control, often with contradicting objectives.

Under the leadership of the Finnish Consulting Group and in collaboration with the Finnish Meteorological Institute, FutureWater develops hydrological models to assess the water resources availability in the region under climate change. The project focuses on the Aral Sea basin (Pamir and Tien Shan mountains) in Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Hydrological models are developed for the Amu Darya and Syr Darya and include several climate change impact scenarios. The project develops national capacity in each of the participating countries to use the models to prepare climate change impact scenarios and develop adaptation strategies. This will then result in improved national strategies for climate change adaptation. We collaborate closely with the main regional and national organizations responsible for land and water management.