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.

The Paris Agreement requests each country to outline and communicate their post-2020 climate actions, known as their NDCs. These embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. As ratifying parties, Armenia, Georgia and Uzbekistan must therefore outline how they intend to implement their NDCs and provide information on what the focus of this spending will be. To support this effort, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is implementing a knowledge and support technical assistance cluster which will help enhance capacities of developing member countries (DMCs) in meeting their climate objectives by assisting in refining and translating nationally determined contributions (NDCs) into climate investment plans.

In this work package, ADB aims to support Georgia, Armenia, and Uzbekistan with the implementation of their NDCs through developing urban climate assessments (UCAs) and mainstreaming low carbon and climate resilience measures into urban planning processes. FutureWater contributed to this effort by supporting knowledge creation in relation to climate change and adaptation which will help each country to make more informed climate investment decisions.This was accomplished by conducting analysis of downscaled climate model ensembles for different climate change scenarios and synthesising data related to urban climate risk.

Climate change trend assessments were conducted using the NASA-NEX downscaled climate model ensemble combined with ERA-5 climate reanalysis products. To determine climate risk at the urban level, a number of openly available datasets were analysed and compiled using a spatial aggregation approach for 16 cities in the area. Results were presented as user-friendly climate risk profiles at the national and urban scales, allowing for insights into climate trends and risks over the coming century. These will be presented to non-expert decision makers to help support Armenia, Georgia and Uzbekistan develop targeted and informed NDCs.

The project should increase agricultural water use productivity in the selected agricultural districts in Uzbekistan through a threefold approach: (i) climate resilient and modernized I&D infrastructure to improve measurement, control and conveyance within existing systems; (ii) enhanced and reliable onfarm water management including capacity building of water consumers’ associations (WCAs), physical improvements for land and water management at the farm level and application of high level technologies for increased water productivity; and (iii) policy and institutional strengthening for sustainable water resources management. This will include strategic support to the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) and its provincial, basin and district agencies.

The project supports the Strategy of Actions on Further Development of Uzbekistan (2017), which includes: (i) introduction of water saving technologies and measures to mitigate the negative impact of climate change and drying of the Aral Sea; (ii) further improvement of irrigated lands and reclamation and irrigation facilities; and (iii) modernization of agriculture by educating areas of cotton and cereal crops to expand horticulture production.

FutureWater focuses on the climate risk and adaptation assessment that accompanies the feasibility projects, and will analyze climate trends, climate model projections, climate impacts on the projects and assess adaptation options.

Watch the video below to learn more about the management of Climate Adaptive Water Resources in the Aral Sea Basin in Uzbekistan (source: ADB)

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is committed to supporting the Uzbekistan Government’s integrated rural economic development initiative that can revitalize the rural economy and help build modern infrastructure and government services in the rural areas. ADB has included targeted programs to provide modern and highly efficient rural infrastructure for power distribution. On these projects, ADB will support the Government’s initiative by means of a result-based lending (RBL) program. One of the key envisioned outputs of the program is to modernize and augment the electricity distribution system. The goal is to start in three provinces: Bukhara, Samarkand and Jizzakh. The proposed project will help Uzbekistan address high technical losses in the power distribution system and improve the electricity supply reliability in the remote areas.

Electricity Transmission and Distribution (T&D) projects are sensitive to climate conditions. Temperature, wind and other variables are typically integrated and considered in the design, as also for this particular project. Thus, changes in these variables due to climate change may affect the performance of the system. Based on these sensitivities, an analysis of climate change projections in the project area (three provinces) was performed, focusing on climate means & extremes (temperature and rainfall) and wind speed trends based on reanalysis (historic) datasets. Overall, the climate model analysis yields following conclusions for the project area:

  • Temperature increases by about 2.1 °C (RCP4.5) to 2.7 °C (RCP8.5) are to be expected.
  • Extremes related to temperatures (e.g. warm spells, extremely warm days) are likely to increase in frequency and intensity.
  • Precipitation totals are likely to stay reasonably constant but the GCMs show a large range of uncertainty under both the RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5
  • Precipitation extremes are likely to increase in frequency and intensity. Maximum 1-day precipitation volumes are expected to increase by about 15% and dry spells are expected to last longer.

Historic trends of wind speed were analyzed for Uzbekistan based on reanalysis data. Based on data over more than a century the data suggests that higher wind speeds (more frequent and/or more intense storms) can be expected in the future.

Considering the type of climate hazards and risks in the project area, and the area-specific climate change projections, overall the most serious threat comes from the expected increase in temperature extremes. Heat related stresses may put significant strain on the electricity system, leading to system faults, reduced power supply and power outages. Dust storms may also occur more frequently due to increased drought conditions, causing transmission losses to overhead power lines and damage transformers and distribution substations. In addition, while the hazard exposure is constricted to smaller parts of the project area, the expected increase in extreme precipitation events may lead to more frequent and powerful flooding events. Flooding and inundation of electricity network infrastructure have major impacts, often causing partial or complete power outages. Higher extreme discharges can also lead to more frequent landslides and more powerful mudflows, posing serious risk of damaging transmission towers which may lead to power outages.

The SREB is part of the Belt and Road Initiative, being a development strategy that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries. Essentially, the SREB includes countries situated on the original Silk Road through Central Asia, West Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. The initiative calls for the integration of the region into a cohesive economic area through building infrastructure, increasing cultural exchanges, and broadening trade. A major part of the SREB traverses Asia’s high-altitude areas, also referred to as the Third Pole or the Asian Water Tower. In the light of the planned development for the SREB traversing the Third Pole and its immediate surroundings, the “Pan-Third Pole Environment study for a Green Silk Road (Pan-TPE)” program will be implemented.

The project will assess the state and fate of water resources in the region under following research themes:

1. Observed and projected Pan-TPE climate change
2. Impacts on the present and future Water Tower of Asia
3. The Green Silk Road and changes in water demand
4. Adaptation for green development

The Republic of Karakalpakstan, in western Uzbekistan is primarily arid desert. Water resources suitable for drinking water are limited and in decline due a combination of human-driven factors and on-going long-term climate changes. Historically, the water resources included the Aral Sea, however due to excessive water extraction from the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya rivers, its surface area had shrunk by 90%. Climate change is projected to decline water resources in the coming decades due to receding glaciers in the upstream areas of Tajikistan, and higher demands upstream by a combined effect of changing rainfall patterns and increased evaporation by higher temperatures.

Much of the water supply infrastructure has deteriorated and requires rehabilitation. Services are unreliable, leakage losses reportedly high, and raw water quality is a mounting concern. Relatively high per-capita system costs coupled with low affordability levels constrain investment and inhibit delivery. Some consumers only receive water supplies for two hours per day.

Therefore, modernization and development of the water supply is highly needed. FutureWater was requested to do an analysis of the impact of climate change on the proposed project by undertaking a Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessment. The project will lead to an all-inclusive climate resilience approach towards design, operations, communication, and future strategy. Financial support of the Green Climate Fund will be sought.

The objective of the analytical and advisory program “Reducing Vulnerability to Climate Change in Agricultural Systems” is to enhance the ability of four countries in Europe and Central Asia (ECA) to mainstream climate change adaptation into agricultural policies, programs, and investments. These countries are Albania, Moldova, Macedonia, and Uzbekistan. This objective will be achieved by raising awareness of the threat, analyzing potential impacts and adaptation responses, and building capacity among national and local stakeholders with respect to assessing the impacts of climate change and developing adaptation measures in the agricultural sector, narrowly defined to encompass crop (including cereals, vegetables, fruits, and forage) and livestock production.

FutureWater will carry out a quantitative analysis at the agro-ecological zone level of Albania and Uzbekistan to estimate the potential physical impacts of climate change on the agricultural sector. Combined with an assessment of the country’s existing adaptive capacity, this provides a baseline estimate of vulnerability to climate change in the agricultural sector and will lead to a menu of adaptation options.


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.

The energy sector is sensitive to changes in seasonal weather patterns and extremes that can affect the supply of energy, harm transmission capacity, disrupt oil and gas production, and impact the integrity of transmission pipelines and power distribution. Most infrastructure has been built to design codes based on historic climate data and will require rehabilitation, upgrade or replacement in the coming years. This poses both a challenge and an opportunity for adaptation. Central Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world. Expected climate impacts range from increased temperature (across the region), changes in precipitation and snow, greater extreme weather events, aridisation and desertification, health, and changes in water resources.

Toktogul reservoir, Kyrgyzstan

Energy and water are closely interrelated as water is used to generate energy (hydropower, cooling of thermal plants) but energy is also required to fulfil water needs (e.g. pumping, water treatment, desalination). Especially in Central Asia, meeting daily energy needs depends to a large extent on water. Guaranteeing sufficient water resources for energy production, and appropriately allocating the limited supply, is becoming increasingly difficult. As the region’s population keeps on growing, competing demand for water from other sectors is expected to grow, potentially exacerbating the issue.

The World Bank is committed to working with the governments of Central Asia to undertake analysis and to identify priorities in adaptation to climate change, including strengthening regional trade through a rigorous, transparent region-scale study. Therefore it currently undertakes a regional assessment to identify areas of possible coordination and possible transboundary impact. The overall project objective is to contribute to a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities for effective joint management of climate adaptation, contributing to the objective of the World Bank’s Central Asia strategy of energy and water security through enhanced cooperation. The results of this assessment should guide current and future decision-makers on options for investments in and management of power generation and transmission/distribution assets through enhanced cooperation.

Amy_Darya_Syr_Darya_mapThe objective of this study is to support the “Central Asia Regional Energy Sector Vulnerability Study” led by Industrial Economics (IEc) and funded by the World Bank, by carrying out an expanded risk assessment for water availability and water related energy sector impacts in the region. The work will build on the existing tools developed previously for Syr Darya and Amu Darya basins. Various necessary extensions and enhancements of the tools will be made to include the latest understanding of climatological and hydrological processes and include the latest planned investments in hydropower facilities and cooling water abstractions of the thermal power plants in the region.