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Interstate Commission for Water Coordination of Central Asia

Daily activity

Transboundary water resources of two main rivers, Amudarya and Syrdarya, in the center of which the Aral Sea remains are situated, are the main subject of direct management and joint development in the Aral Sea basin that should be implemented by ICWC and its executive bodies.

ICWC, as the body of five states, fulfils functions of water resources management and development and maintenance of sustainable natural and hydro ecological processes on water resources directly through two BWOs “Amudarya” and “Syrdarya”. Owing to their efforts during decade, non-conflict allocation of joint water resources and serviceability of all canal beds, structures, paths are ensured as well as all issues, related to effective water resources use in five states and water supply to the Aral Sea and its coastal zone, are solved. It is known that “Plan of concrete actions on improvement of situation in the Aral Sea basin” and “Main provisions of the Aral Sea coastal zone conservation concept”, worked out by ICWC, were approved on January 11, 1994 by the Heads of state; afterwards the Commission prepared “Main provisions of water strategy of the region and five countries” and submitted it to consideration of the governments in 1996.

Taking into account scarcity of water resources in the region, water-saving is not less important component of the Commission work.

In 1960, total water intake in the Aral Sea basin was 60 610 million m3, but by 1990 it increased to 116 271 million m3, or by 1.8 times. For the same period, the population on the indicated territory rose up by 2.7 times, irrigated areas increased by 1.7 times, agricultural production by 3 times, gross national product almost by 6 times. After the Soviet Union collapse in 1991, total water use in the region started to decrease that was caused by general economic degradation.

After 1992, as a result of concerted water conservation policy, accepted by ICWC, the reduction of total water intake had become target tendency. In 2000 total water intake was 104 955 million m3 that is 11.4 km3 less than in 1990.

At the same time, undoubtedly, water intake reduction in the basin was resulted mainly by gross output volume diminution in most countries of the region, as well as cereal crops increase along with rice and cotton cutting down.

To develop this activity, ICWC initiated several programs for water use effectiveness enhancement. These are WUFMAS Project of the European Union (1996-1999), “The Aral Sea basin water resources and environment management” (contest on water saving - GEF - A-2, 1999-2000), “Best practices in water use” (IWMI, 2001). Supported by Swiss International Development and Cooperation Agency (SDC), the new ICWC/IWMI initiative - “Integrated Water Resources Management in Fergana Valley” Project (2002-2005), developing the transfer to hydrographic method of water resources management within Fergana Valley - is of a great importance in joint solution of the above issue.

Hydrological forecast reliability is of great importance in basin water resources management. So, the issue of strengthening interaction between water bodies and hydro meteorological services on Syrdarya and Amudarya flow amplification and hydrometeorological forecast reliability advancement was put at the 28th ICWC meeting. Measures to renew systematic observations on meteorological stations on Fedchenko and Abramov glaciers, to realize annual two-time test flight for definition of snow supplies in flow formation zone, and also to restore meteorological stations and hydro posts in the Aral Sea basin are planned.

No less attention is drawn to the issue of water-resources systems automation.

In the light of realizing the Program 7 “Water resources management and control in Amudarya and Syrdarya and Syrdaya river basin”, Canadian company UMA Engineering LTD jointly with BWO “Syrdarya” and SIC ICWC and with the support of Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) designed, installed and commissioned in 1999 an automated system of monitoring and control over headwork of “Dustlik” canal, which supplies water to 220.0 ha of irrigated lands in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Installation of analogous automated system of Kyrgyz firm "Sigma" on Upper Chirchik hydrounit with financial support of USAID has been completed. Similar works on “Pakhtaabad” canal with the assistance of USAID.

Preparation for comparative tests of these systems on "Dustlik" canal (“SCADA”, Canada), South Golodnostepskiy Canal and Upper Chirchik hydrounit (“Sigma", Kyrgyzstan) are in progress.

“Sigma” system launch and adjustment works on Uchkurgan hydrounit are being done with the assistance of SDC.

Regular work on ICWC and its executive bodies activities advancement is carried out.

For the purpose of preparing and working out proposals in this field, thematic groups on legal, organizational, financial, economic and technical issues and training were formed by decision of the 30th ICWC meeting. The groups have recommendatory and advisory status and are trusted to give concrete proposals and recommendations for enhancing effectiveness of transboundary water resources and adequate water objects use, to work out proposals on unifying water legislation of the region's states, to take measures on operation, to prevent and eliminate emergency conditions in transboundary objects.

The tasks of groups also include reduction of flow losses along Amudarya stem stream, refining of flow forecasts in a real time, hydrometric account improvement, development of financial and economic activities modeling and so on.

ICWC confirmed the plan for development of works on interstate agreements and the schedule of their implementation. After efforts of conciliatory commissions, consisted of Central Asian states representatives, Draft Agreement “On formation and functioning of national and basin databases on the Aral Sea basin transboundary water resources integrated use and conservation” was prepared, signed by ICWC members and submitted to IFAS.

Work plan of the group on legal issues includes revision and preparation for submission a whole package of agreements on seven directions, among which continuation of works on revision of interstate agreements “On the main principles of Syrdarya River basin transboundary water resources joint and rational use” and “On transboundary water resources conservation, rules on control of their quality and guaranteeing environmental sustainability in the region” is of primary importance.

The Aral Sea basin is now the region, to which the international community draws heightened attention, and which is field of international cooperation in solving the Aral Sea crisis that affected through its sequels more than 35 million people, living on the territory of five Central Asian states.

Large-scale irrigation of huge desert land areas in terms of scarce water resources led to the Aral Sea level fall and its productivity loss. Hundreds of giant hydraulic structures and irrigation of 7.5 million ha turned into climatic, sanitary and socio-economic situation worsening and desertification of more than 1.4 million ha lands in the Aral Sea coastal zone.

Significant increase of population, need for food and job provision resulted in intensive irrigation, which in turn led to above-mentioned phenomena. So, the Aral Sea and its basin program have become not only Central Asian problem, but also global one, and ways of solving the Aral crisis will notably influence the international community to recognize importance of concerted and integrated efforts on eliminating the consequences of the 20th century's biggest environmental disasters.

Just because of that the world-wide interest in ICWC experience is intense enough as well as willing to help to solve the Aral Sea problems on behalf of whole international community.

ICWC from the beginning of its activity organized close cooperation with UNESCO, World Bank, UNDP, UNEP and other international organizations that allowed to jointly work out and present "Program of concrete actions on improving ecological and socio-economic situation in the Aral Sea basin", to which significant funds were allocated yet in the first stage, on behalf of five Central Asian states at donors meeting in Paris, 1994.

ICWC founder countries actively take part in work of International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID), of which they are juridical members. Special Working Group on the Aral Sea basin has been organized within ICID.

ICWC representatives participated in ICID congresses in the Hague, 1993 (Giniyatullin, Dukhovny), in Cairo, 1996 (Sarsembekov, Bekbolotov, Ashurov, Deryakuliyev, Djalalov, Dukhovny), in Spain, 1999 (Sarsembekov, Altiyev, Djalalov, Dukhovny), in the 47th ICID Conference, Oxford, 1996, in the 49th Conference of ICID International Executive Committee, Indonesia, 1998, in the 50th Conference in Granada, Spain, 1999, Bonn Conference on Fresh Water, Germany, 2001.

To enrich decision makers — water sector leaders — with progressive methods it is important that they take part in study tours on water management activity in the leading countries of the world.

ICWC close cooperation with UNESCO, FAO, World Bank, IPTRID, UNDP, European Union, GWP, World Water Council, UN Economic Commission for Europe, NATO and others is going on.

Regular relations with the Embassies of the Great Britain, Netherlands, Germany, Israel, India, Indonesia, China, Russia, USA, France and international organizations, accredited in the region are kept.

Specialists of ICWC scientific and design organizations participate in carrying out a number of international programs and projects.

SIC on behalf of ICWC is registered in the Forum Organizing Committee as a coordinator of regional virtual forum, attached to the 3rd World Water Forum. Special Program on development of partnership and integration in Central Asia has been worked out.

ICWC is mainly focused on water sciences development.

Scientific branches under SIC ICWC coordination carry out scientific researches on interstate scientific programs:

- Working out main components of ICWC policy on rational water use and water resources conservation in the Aral Sea basin (1998-1999);

- Problems of sustainable water resources management in the Aral Sea basin for the 21st century (2000-2002 ).

Regional information system on water and land resources management has been created and developing, its information collection is held, as well as adequate national databases on water and land resources and the environment are improved and realized through Internet.

Bibliographic database on the Aral Sea basin management has been created.

Great attention is drawn also to issue of professional skill development. ICWC with the assistance of Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and participation of Brace Center at McGill University and Mount Royal College (Canada) formed ICWC Training Center (TC).

TC branches are established in Dushanbe, Osh and Urgench with the support of international organizations.

ICWC draws not less attention to information-publishing activity. It publishes such periodicals as ICWC Bulletins, Abstract reviews, Information collections, Scientific review collections, Juridical collections, IFAS Bulletins.

Furthermore, materials on various seminars, symposiums and conferences are prepared and issued.

ICWC branches entered the IPTRID international network. Received information is processed and disseminated as information collection among Central Asian Countries.