Water diplomacy in Central Asia

Water is a valuable and scarce commodity for the Central Asian states. Climate change and cultivation by the population have led to higher temperatures and evaporation rates. The desiccation of the Aral Sea during the last decades has highlighted the problem. Germany is helping the Central Asian states Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to utilize their shared water resources in an efficient, sustainable and fair manner. A two-day conference on this issue is taking place at the Federal Foreign Office.

At the opening of the conference on 7 March, Foreign Minister Westerwelle told high-ranking representatives from all five countries in the region and from Afghanistan that Germany is keen to help the Central Asian states find viable solutions. The challenges are considerable. It is hoped that greater water and energy efficiency can be achieved through technical and economic innovation. Fair and sensible distribution mechanisms among the various forms of use – agriculture, energy and sanitation – had to be found, the German Foreign Minister stated.

Central Asia Water Initiative

Sandification of the Aral Sea (Archive)

Sandification of the Aral Sea
© picture-alliance/dpa

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Sandification of the Aral Sea (Archive)

Sandification of the Aral Sea (Archive)

Sandification of the Aral Sea

Germany has much experience with water management and with the use of renewable energies. Back in April 2008, the Federal Foreign Office launched a Water Initiative for the region within the scope of the European Union’s Strategy for Central Asia. Around five million euro was granted annually for political advisory services and the establishment of institutions to manage cross-border rivers. This cooperation is to be continued. The aim of this Initiative, also known as the Berlin Process, is to avert conflicts and foster regional development.

The water from the region’s major rivers, especially the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, are the main sources for drinking water, for irrigation in the agricultural sector, and in the mountainous regions also for hydroelectric power. Although the Central Asian states signed a first agreement on water distribution as early as 1992, to this day there is no binding cooperation framework for joint water management. Foreign Minister Westerwelle emphasized in his speech that this is one of the main objectives of the Berlin Process.

Berlin Declaration

The countries participating in the conference want to set out future cooperation under the Water Initiative in a joint declaration. The aim of the next cooperation phase remains to enhance and further develop the ecological, social and economic situation in the Aral Sea basin. To this end, the countries in question want to work with Germanyto improve scientific and technical cooperation, foster a programme on transboundary water management and expand academic training in this field.

Last updated 07.03.2012

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