Defining the Geopolitics of a Thirsty WorldSM
The Aral Sea and Other Water Issues in Central Asia

As reported by the Foreign Policy Association, World Bank President and former US diplomat Robert B. Zoellick recently met with President Nazarbayev and the Kazak government to discuss several joint World Bank/Kazak projects. As the article notes:

“…another key project that needs to garner not just attention, but action: the disappearing Aral Sea. The Aral Sea, once the 4th largest lake in the world, has shrunken by about 70 percent in the last 50 years largely due to mismanagement and overuse by the CA states, mainly Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The rapid shrinking of this vital geographic regional centerpiece has had a multitude of negative effects; damaging fish production, causing high salinity, pollution, lack of fresh drinking water, and desertification that has led to violent sand storms. The World Bank has a $86 million dollar restoration project set to begin at the end of this year and a follow-up project to improve environmental and economic conditions in the Sea’s area, but there is great doubt that the Aral Sea will never regain its former size.

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UN ambassadors from all 5 CA states have requested help from the international community regarding this issue and plan to introduce a draft resolution on the Sea at the 63rd Session of the next UN General Assembly. Kori Udovicki, head of UNDP’s European branch, argued that the situation ‘is probably one of the most acute…environmental crises in the world.’Also regarding water issues/problems in the CA, officials from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan met in Bishkek from June 10-11 to discuss water sharing issues in the region. Radio Free Europe called the conference not only a ‘failure’, but that it may have actually raised tensions between the nations regarding the free flow of water throughout the region. In short, Tajik and Kyrg, when most of the water in the region flows from, desire to treat water like any other commodity, such as Uzbek, Kazak, and Turkmen’s oil and gas reserves, and receive some compensation. A difficult issue to say the least.”



This entry was posted on Friday, June 27th, 2008 at 1:12 pm and is filed under Aral Basin, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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