As early as during the Soviet time, the SANIIRI Institute, on the basis of which SIC ICWC was established, cooperated closely with international water and ecological institutions and established exchange of scientific information. One main information channel was the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID), where SANIIRI actively participated by consent of the former Soviet government. Since the early 90-ties, ICID, within the framework of the Programme IPTRID (International Programme for Technology and Research in Irrigation and Drainage) has invited SANIIRI to cooperate and participate actively in exchange of information with foreign countries. Later on, SIC ICWC has placed this store at the service of ICWC. The starting point was that cooperation is a two-way road - the stock of knowledge in our former water management and land reclamation school is comparable with foreign knowledge in terms of its depth, content, theoretical ground and innovation despite the fact that the foreign colleagues had an advantage in form of better equipping with facilities, information technologies, and computer networks. Over the period of joint activities, this gap was filled in general and even competing technologies were developed. For example, the system of automation of hydraulic structures implemented together with the SIGMA Company (Kyrgyzstan) was based on the controllers that well surpassed the Modicon system recommended by Canadian specialists.
Bilateral cooperation was established with Israel, Romania, India and other countries.
The study tours of decision makers - water sector’s leaders - to advanced countries were very important for enrichment of their experience and knowledge. For acquaintance with advanced experience, the study tours were organized for ICWC members and representatives of ICWC bodies to France in 1994 (supported by the World Bank)); to Italy and Belgium in 1995 (the European Union); to USA and Canada in 1996, 1997, and 1998 (the Canadian International Development Agency) and in 2000 (CIDA and USAID); to Spain in 1998 (the European Union); to Israel in 1995, 1997 (the Israeli Government and the World Bank); to India in 1999 (the Indian Government); and to Pakistan in 1999 (the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation).
In the recent years, thanks to cooperation of SIC with MASHAV (Israel), study-tours were organized for ICWC members and national institutions’ staff to Israel, where more than 80 persons were trained in CINADCO courses. The study tours for water professionals were organized also to Australia (2006), Turkey (2008), and Spain (2010).
The international cooperation implies not only getting water-management organizations acquainted with foreign experience and development in the water sector. It also makes it possible to:
- inform the world community about processes, tendencies, achievements and problems in the region;
- attract international donors to regional problems; organize joint regional and national projects aimed at water development in the region;
- ensure participation of regional leading experts in enrichment of the global best practices with their achievements, and
- get knowledge and advanced experience and know-how of the world water community.
Thanks to regular communications with foreign colleagues and familiarization with their work experience, the reviews of water management practices all over the world, including Spain, Portugal, France, Israel, Mexico, Canada, China, Japan, Australia, India, Egypt and others, were made.
Thus, we succeeded to maintain regular information of ICWC bodies through publications and the CAWater-Info portal about know-how and recent tendencies in the water sector all over the world. A new form of cooperation implies joint publications of Central Asian and foreign experts. For example, these are the “Water and Food Security in Central Asia”, Springer, 2010, the Proceedings of the International «CAWA» Symposium, etc.
The Aral Sea basin attracts closer attention of the world community. Moreover, it is the arena of international cooperation in overcoming the Aral Sea disaster.
In April 2000, SIC’s experts took part in a special workshop of the World Bank in Washington, where four reports were dedicated to comprehensive water management in the Aral Sea basin, including analysis of specific characters intrinsic to such river basins as Amudarya, Syrdarya, and Zaravshan.
ICWC is a quite unique example of cooperation, which is aimed not only at future planning and elaborating joint rules of actions but also at fulfilling water sharing and solving common problems.
In this context, there is great interest in ICWC experience at international arena, as well as the willingness to help in overcoming the Aral Sea problems on behalf of the world community as a whole. By outlining the community of management, development, protection, and sharing of transboundary basin water in the beginning of its journey, ICWC slowly but successfully progressed towards implementation of such a policy of joint actions.
This interest is fueled by strong intersectoral competition in the basins of both rivers – «irrigation and nature» against «hydroenergy» since yet the world practices have not found concrete solutions of given problem. Moreover, the intersectoral competition was transformed into the competition of upstream and downstream countries. Numerous published works of SIC in publications on world level give a wide view of ways for solving the regional problems. For achieving the set goals and raising international prestige of ICWC, representatives of SIC are involved in activities of the most authoritative organizations, such as:
- World Water Council - WWC;
- International Network of Basin Organizations - INBO;
- Global Water Partnership - GWP;
- International Water Resources Association - IWRA;
- International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage - ICID.
SIC ICWC initiated establishment of GWP CACENA (GWP for Caucasus and Central Asia) and INBO Network in the territory of Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia. SIC ICWC initiated the process of membership of all Central Asian states in the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) and proposed to form an Aral Sea basin work group (ST-ARAL) at ICID. Participation of ICWC delegations was organized in ICID Congresses in Hague in 1993, Cairo in 1996, and Spain in 1999, as well as in the 47th ICID Conference in Oxford in 1996, the 49th Conference of the ICID International Executive Committee in Indonesia in 1998, the 50th ICID Conference in Granada, Spain in 1999, and the 55th ICID Conference in Moscow, Russian in 2004. ICWC delegations participated also in ICID Congresses in 2003 in Canada, in 2006 in China, and in 2009 in India, where special sessions dedicated to the Aral Sea basin problems were organized.
Since 2000, participation of ICWC delegation has been organized in the World Water Fora: WWF 2 in Hague in 2000; WWF 3 in Kyoto in 2003; WWF 4 in Mexico in 2006; WWF 5 in Istanbul in 2009.
The international donors’ community collaborating closely with ICWC was and is rendering great support in SIC initiated activities related to: implementation of integrated water resources management (IWRM); development of training; water conservation and water productivity improvement; better forecasting and accounting of flow; implementation of SCADA; development of information system; etc. Such international institutions should be noted here as SDC, the World Bank, the European Union, CIDA, the Governments of Norway and Finland, DFID, USAID, UNDP, the Japanese Water Forum, FAO, GWP and others.
All this contributed to high appreciation of SIC ICWC activities on the world arena, and SIC ICWC was awarded the honorary title of the “Water voice messenger” during the 3rd World Water Forum in Kyoto in 2003.