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No. 8 (265) May 2015


25-26 May 2015, Almaty, Kazakhstan

The meeting of Central Asian regional organizations was organized by initiative of CAREC jointly with the IFAS Executive Committee. The aim of the meeting was to develop a common platform of regional organizations for facilitation of coordinated actions at national level and in relations with donors and for enhancement of cooperation between organizations under IFAS umbrella. This idea was supported by all the participants that included representatives of SIC ICWC, SIC ICSD, ICWC Secretariat, Regional Hydrological Center, BWO Amudarya, and BWO Syrdarya.

CAREC Executive Director I.Abdullayev and Deputy Chairman of IFAS Executive Committee Sh.Talipov opened the meeting. At the beginning, all regional organizations presented their work progress over the last three years and visions of their current mandates with the following improvements in the future.

SIC ICWC Director underlined in his report that 8 ICWC meetings were held over the last 3 years to coordinate schedules and amounts of water supplies for non-growing and growing seasons in every year. During this period, the big achievement was the approval by ICWC members at their 63rd meeting in April 2014 of the Implementation Plan on strengthening ICWC activities in key directions. This Plan included four main directions: water conservation; implementation of integrated water resources management; improvement of water accounting quality and accuracy; and, capacity building of regional and national organizations.

SIC ICWC published 10 ICWC bulletins, 42 press-releases, 3 collections of scientific papers, 9 abstract collections, etc. In addition, 12 proposals were developed as part of ASBP-3 and submitted to IFAS.

In 2012, SIC ICWC initiated huge work on improvement of the knowledge base on the basis of rubricator, which included 15 thematic areas. Consequently, 4 000 visitors per day were recorded on the portal on average in the last year.

SIC ICWC is deeply interested in cooperation with all regional and national organizations, proposing its establishment in line of “responsible partnership”. Such cooperation is characterized by orientation towards collective rather than competitive advantages, feed-back mechanism for implementation of partnership initiatives, self-monitoring, and demonstration of achievements and shortcomings. Besides, such partnership promotes synergies.

The Head of ICWC Secretariat M.Babadjanova underlined the coordinating role of the Secretariat in preparation and organization of ICWC meetings and stressed that By-laws and guiding documents of all regional organizations were outdated and needed radical revision.

Representative of SIC ICSD Ch.Muradov called upon all the participants to orient towards sustainable development in their activities. He also underlined complexities related to search for financing sources.

Executive Director of the Regional Hydrological Center S.P.Shivaryova emphasized that activity of the Center is mainly supported through the projects of the World Bank. The Center reconstructs and standardizes operations of active hydrometeorological stations, and establishes continuous connection between the station and consumers. She cited establishment of the intersectoral team in Kazakhstan as s good example of this work. In her opinion, it is necessary to strengthen activities in long- and mid-term forecasting of flow for more accurate detection of extreme years. As an example, she showed current parameters of Chardara and Koksarai reservoirs that are underestimated in her opinion. As the Center calculates, potential breach of Chardara dam may cause damage of more than 5 billion dollars.

Representative of BWO Amudarya underlined a need for harmonization of hydrological data from transboundary cross-sections and indicated to availability of unaccounted flow losses in the Amudarya basin. He proposed to develop modeling of river behavior and water distribution on daily basis, as well as publication of mid- and long-term water diversion forecasts for improvement of BWO Amudarya activity.

Representative of BWO Syrdarya indicated to a need for sharing experience among different generations of experts. In addition, he underlined the importance of a unified information system for the Syrdarya basin that could be used by various institutions.

Representative of the Kazakh branch of IFAS A.Kenshimov talked about successful cooperation of this branch with OSCE, UN, and UNESCO. He also told about plans to start publishing bulletins on Syrdarya lower reaches and other intra-national basins.

At the end of presentations, CAREC Director told that REC practiced team management in their organization. The REC Board includes 5 representatives of the countries and 5 representatives of NGOs, and 2 international experts. REC carries out several regional projects, including small river projects. A new website “Knowledge hub” was organized to develop the knowledge base.

The second half of the day was dedicated to discussion of proposals. Representative of ICSD Mr. Mamedov via SKYPE expressed an intention to take active part in information exchange and in the plan of joint actions of regional organizations. Moreover, ICSD puts high hopes on potential establishment of the Center for Adaptation to Climate Change in Ashgabad.

SIC’s report stresses that we have to live together within a common water basin and space determined by location of our countries in the landlocked basins of Aral Sea, Caspian Sea, and Balkhash Lake. Our cooperation should proceed from regional and national visions that are oriented to the long-term future, i.e. what water and environmental situations we would expect under various options and what steps should the countries and regional organizations take in order to face these challenges. SIC’s forecasts show that by 2035-2040, water content would decrease within 0-3 km3 in the Syrdarya River and from 6 to 9 km3 in the Amudarya River. In this context, the key areas of cooperation should be water conservation, efficient interfacing of all water hierarchical levels, integrated water resources management, and improvement of water and land productivity. All country actions in these areas should be synchronous and bear the sense of responsibility in order to ensure both national and regional water security as the basis for food, environmental and energy security and sustainable development. There is no need to revisit existing main agreements but we should focus on elaboration of rules and regulations, as well as procedures for basin management as a follow-up of these agreements. From this point, measures to overcome main barriers are very important. These barriers include the lack of trust among the countries concerning issues related to the regional water system as respective negotiations are usually delayed and produce no required results. The six-year work on draft Agreement on the Syrdarya basin is a characteristic example. Another barrier is the deviations from fulfillment by different parties of accords as part of Agreements 1992 and 1998 and improper fulfillment of ICWC decisions on allocation of water withdrawal quotas among the states and on filling of reservoirs and regimes of water releases from the. Evidently, it is necessary to estimate benefits and costs of each party from concrete projects related to joint transboundary water management.

For implementation of ASBP-3, one should not be guided by desires of donors that often have fragmented visions of this program. Regional organizations should firmly decide what the region does need. Distribution of donor projects by river basin is characteristic in this context. Donors take a great interest in the Chu-Talas basin, where 15 different projects are implemented already. Larger attention is given to the Syrdarya River basin and three small river basins, such as Isphara, Ugam, and Aspara. At the same time, the main imminent painful place in the future regional development – the Amudarya River basin – lacks donor support. Particular attention should be paid to enhancement of cooperation mechanisms, among which the main four ones are:

  1. Regional water strategy as a common vision of future regional development under conditions of scarce water.
  2. Information exchange among all parties of the regional process, first of all.
  3. Regional training, which is a platform for achievement of consensus on interactive basis.
  4. Joint projects that help to consolidate general knowledge and practices and create a platform for better understanding between the partners.

In doing so, contribution and responsibility of each organization, on the one side, should match its benefits, on the other side.

SIC ICWC suggests to all regional organization to join to the development of the knowledge bases, which is maintained on the CAWater-Info portal.

The Executive Director of RHC S.P.Shivaryova stressed a need for orientation towards community of interests and problems: water, nature, and economy. The main barrier is the lack of awareness about financing, development, and implementation of regional projects. The focus should be placed on large regional projects and involvement in them as many regional organizations as possible. It is important that the results of these projects were widely communicated. IFAS should become such an organization, which coordinates and is responsible for wider information of partners.

Deputy Chairman of IFAS Executive Committee Sh.Talipov in his speech noted that virtually EC IFAS, ICWC, and ICSD are a common platform, where provision of information should be open. Unfortunately, data transfer from different countries faces great difficulties. This affects coordination between regional organizations and between the latter and national organizations. Development and implementation of ASBP-3 should be the basis for cooperation of regional organizations; moreover, it is important to receive timely information from regional and national organizations in order to avoid duplication and inefficient usage of donor and own funds. EC IFAS takes measures to speed up all activities ensuing from resolutions and protocols, as well as memos of understanding signed at Urgench Conference.

ICWC Secretary M.Babadjanova pointed attention to a need for consideration of different interests of the countries and diversity of approaches. Nevertheless, achieving consensus is prerequisite for cooperation.

CAREC Director I.Abdullayev said the following: it is clear that each organization has its own aims and tasks and therefore not all the organizations can contribute equally to cooperation. However, any regional organization can contribute to aggregated opinion of regional organizations in case of openness and trust. If regional organizations manage to create and develop the common platform, this will allow establishing channels for continuous interactions and, at the same time, stating their consolidated view before donors and governmental agencies. To this end, it is very important to draft the list of prospective measures of regional organizations, create a mechanism for their information and attraction of partners. He also proposed to establish a common bank of reports about completed projects, whether they are donor’s or national ones. He proposed to create a “white list” of international partners that have positive experience in cooperating with regional and national organizations. While exchanging opinions, the potential areas and mechanisms of cooperation were agreed upon.

Representatives of EU, UNEP, USAID, OSCE, UNECE, Finnish and Norwegian embassies in Kazakhstan, as well as JICA participated in the meeting with donors. Donors talked about their efforts in support of ASBP-3 and informed that EU planned a meeting on the new large regional project in July in Tashkent and requested both regional and national organizations to prepare their concrete proposals so that to have better understanding of what the region actually does need. It was proposed to issue a bulletin “Central Asia and donors”, which would inform regularly about financed projects and their effectiveness. The same idea was supported by Sh.Talipov, Deputy Chairman of EC IFAS, who underlined the establishment of regular communication between donors and regional organizations and vice versa. Particular attention should be paid to monitoring of projects and to bringing country priorities and donors’ priorities into accord.