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Interstate Commission for Water Coordination of Central Asia

Central-Asian International Scientific-Applied Conference “Water Partnership in Central Asia”

Owing to the USSR’s collapse since 1991 the changes have been occurring in political-economic situation in Central Asia. Five newly independent states started to transit to the market economy that requires to review approaches to water resources management and use issues in the context of unstable ecological situation in separate parts of the region. Each state in the region defines its national interests in socio-economic development, changing the attitude toward the environmental problems, and recognizing the necessity of orientation to international water right principles. In the transition period, when the states only develop their priorities taking into account common regional restraints (one of them is ecological situation around the Aral Sea), it is necessary to keep stability in water resources management.

To this end, in October 1991 the heads of water authorities of five Central Asian countries adopted a statement, which laid the basis for signing in February 1992 an “Agreement between the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Republic of Uzbekistan on water resources use in the Amudarya and Syrdarya basins”. In accordance with this Agreement, Interstate Commission for Water Coordination (ICWC) was founded. The main objectives of ICWC are to coordinate the management, rational use and protection of transboundary river water resources in the region, and develop a long-term strategy of water resources management taking into account the changes in socio-economic situation in the countries.

During the past period, 38 meetings of ICWC were held, at which decisions were made on everyday and future water management and use problems in the Aral Sea basin. On 26-27 May 2004, the 39th ordinary ICWC meeting is held in “Kargalinskiy” hotel-sanatorium in Almaty city.

For raising public awareness of water problems, in 2002 ICWC initiated holding an annual regional water conference in Almaty. Third Central Asian scientific-applied conference “Water Partnership in Central Asia” is confined to the 39th ICWC meeting. The aim of the conference is to present the results of a number of water projects being implemented in the countries of the region, and to exchange opinions on more acute aspects of water resources management.

Ordinary ICWC 39th meeting

The 39th ordinary ICWC meeting was held on 26-27 May 2004 and presided by A.D. Ryabtsev, Chairman of the Water Resources Committee at the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan.

At the meeting the following issues were discussed:

1. Refining water intake limits and operation mode of reservoirs cascade in the Amudarya and Syrdarya river basins for the vegetation period of 2004.

2. Progress of the preparation of Interstate Agreements in the light of implementing the commissions of the Heads of states under the ASBP-2.

3. Agenda and venue of the 40th ordinary ICWC meeting.


Ordinary ICWC 39th meeting

Ordinary ICWC 39th meeting


The minute is signed

ICWC members took information of BVO “Amudarya” and BVO “Syrdarya” on implementing water intake limits and providing the adopted reservoir cascade operation mode of the Amudarya and Syrdarya rivers for the non-vegetation period of 2003-2004 into consideration.

The meeting participants confirmed the refined limits of water intake from the Amudarya and Syrdarya river channels for the vegetation period of 2004. The predicted operation mode of reservoir cascades of the Amudarya river was approved. BVO “Amudarya” was charged with amending this mode taking into account actual water availability.

The predicted operation mode of reservoir cascades of the Syrdarya river was approved. This mode was recommended to the Intergovernmental Working Group for water and power issues in the Syrdarya river basin for consideration to prepare appropriate annual agreement.

The meeting participants took into account information on the progress of preparing Interstate Agreements in the light of implementing the commissions of the Heads of states under the ASBP-2. In agreement with the national governments, ICWC members will determine the priority of developing legal documents, included in ASBP-2 plan, and appoint responsible members of all the country working groups for preparing these documents.

The decision of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on performing the regional project titled “Improvement of transboundary water resources management in Central Asia”, including the component aimed at improving the 1998 Inter-governmental Agreement “On rational use of Naryn-Syrdarya reservoir cascade water and power resources”, was approved.

BVO “Syrdarya” and SIC ICWC were commissioned with preparing its membership of working groups, and submit work plan of these groups to the next ICWC meeting. ICWC members decided to apply to the ADB for quickening beginning the implementation of this project.

The 40th ordinary ICWC meeting will be held in the Kyrgyz Republic in August 2004.

Plenary session


Participants registration

Central-Asian international scientific-applied conference
“Water Partnership in Central Asia”


Conference's Presidium


Conference's Presidium


Conference's Presidium


Conference's participants


Conference's participants

Conference's participants

Inauguration ceremony of the Country Water Partnership of Kazakhstan

One of the significant events within the framework of the conference was the inauguration of the Country Water Partnership of Kazakhstan created on the initiative of the Global Water Partnership, an international network supporting IWRM ideas, on 26 May. During the ceremony two new short-length films “Water Resources of Kazakhstan - River Basin Management” and “Water Resources of Kazakhstan – Municipal Management”, made by Eco Forum of Kazakhstan with the financial support of GWP, were presented. The participants unanimously approved “Framework Agreement on the partnership in water sector of Kazakhstan”, and elected Technical-Consultative Committee of the Country Water Partnership of Kazakhstan of seven members. SIC ICWC Kazakh Office Director Prof. N.K. Kipshakbayev was elected a coordinator of the committee, and CAK “Atasu” Executive Director E.S. Tyrtyshny an executive secretary.

On 27 May, the Country Water Partnership of Kazakhstan jointly with the UNDP and GWP held a special meeting dedicated to new project “National Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Efficiency Plan for Kazakhstan”. This project is launched with the assistance of the UNDP and GWP owing to the funds, allocated by the Norwegian Government. Chairman of the Water Resources Committee of Kazakhstan A.D. Ryabtsev, UNDP Deputy Representative G. Johnson, GWP Executive Secretary E. Gabrielli, Chairman of TAC GWP CACENA V.I. Sokolov welcomed the launch of the project. Manager of UNDP Environment Division in Kazakhstan Z. Takenov and Project Manager E. Istileulov made project presentation. The main objectives of the project are to help in developing National IWRM Plan for Kazakhstan, intensify water partnership in the republic, help in integrating water issues into common national development policy.


Interview of ICWC member Mr. A.D. Ryabtsev

Interview of ICWC member Mr. A.A. Djalalov

“Integrated water resources management” (joint session of GWP CACENA, SDC, SIC ICWC, IWMI, USAID, UNDP, DFID)

On 27 May, a section session on integrated water resources management was held, at which more than 60 people took part. 8 presentations were made. The presentation of V.I. Sokolov (SIC ICWC/GWP CACENA), in which it was showed that the main purpose of integrated water resources management (IWRM) is to create conditions for stable and equitable water supply for the needs of population and environment, was central. Also, the problems of realizing the fundamental IWRM principles (how to organize management in hydrographic boundaries?), problems of coordinating water use and all participating organs horizontally between the sectors and vertically between water management hierarchy levels (how to provide public participation not only in management, but also in financing, supporting, planning and developing the water sector?), and technical aspects of IWRM were presented. The presentations of T.I. Palvanov (IC ICWC) and M. Ul Hassan (IWMI) informed the conference participants about the results of the pilot project for the realization of IWRM principles in Ferghana Valley. O. Kirakosyan, Deputy Head of Agency of Water Resources of Armenia, presented a paper on establishing a legal base for IWRM in Armenia. U.B. Saparov from Institute “Turkmensuvdesgatalma” made presentation on the perfection of water sector in Turkmenistan. Two presentations in the section were dedicated to the development of information collection “Tool Box for IWRM” of GWP. In the first one, D. Talmeinerova from Slovakia presented a brief meaning of “Tool box” of GWP and proposed a joint work program for the development of this collection with the participation of specialist from GWP CACENA. In the second one, Prof. V.A. Dukhovny presented the view of Central Asian specialists on practical tools, used in daily water management practice.

The main outcome of the section was that the representatives of eight countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus confirmed their adherence to IWRM principles and readiness (in a varying degree) for the realization of them.

“Information service for water partnership development and strengthening” (joint session of SDC, SIC ICWC, UNECE, GRID-Arendal, USAID, World Bank)

Information service is needed in water sector for operative data provision to water authorities, dissemination of accumulated knowledge about water management and use process, public awareness of existing problems. Openness and accessibility of information on water resources and use of them are powerful means for strengthening water partnership in the region. During the conference organizational, legal, and technical aspects of regional information service development were discussed.

At this session the following resolution was adopted:

Sustainable water use is the main problem of Central Asia region. This concerns the past unsolved ecological problems as well as the consequences of the Aral crisis and current problems such as regional water resources allocation and management including inter-departmental and inter-state problems.

The realities now existing in the developed countries call for applying modern information technologies. Knowledge gathering and processing in the form of knowledge bases and expert systems becomes a key element of new information technology. Intensive development of the Internet and communication facilities raises puts gathering and dissemination problems at new level.

On 28 May 2004, joint session of SDC, SIC ICWC, UNECE, GRID-Arendal “Information service for water partnership development and strengthening” was held, in which representatives of water, scientific and non-governmental organizations and departments of the Aral Sea basin states, SDC, SIC ICWC, US Embassy in Uzbekistan and others participated.

  1. Providing information transparency and free access to information on water and land resources and Aral Sea basin environment is one of the most important aspects of the region’s sustainable development.
  2. The aim of implementing the “Central Asia Regional Water Information Base” Project is to establish more intimate contacts and strengthen the partnership between ecological and water organizations in the region.
  3. It is planned to develop the regional information system in the course of the project according to the «Agreement between Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan on the creation and operation of national, basin and regional databases on water resources sharing and conservation in the Aral Sea basin”, signed by ICWC members.
  4. The capacity of Central Asian countries will be strengthened by establishing a permanent network of regional correspondents.
  5. The project outcomes will be used in decision-making, by the mass media, and for raising public awareness.
  6. It is necessary to intensify involving lower levels of water mamagement (oblast, system levels) and water use (WUAs) in the information network.



“Women role in water resources management and use” (joint session of ADB, GWP CACENA and SIC ICWC)

Particular role of women in water resources management and use is the theme of special meeting within the framework of the conference. More active participation of women in water management is the guarantee of water sector sustainability as well as equitable and productive water use. The participants of the conference discussed the issues how should international experience be applied in Central Asia in this regard.

The sweeping changes brought about by transition in the countries of Central Asia have greatly affected the economies of these countries and the living standards of their populations. As a result of this, both men and women in Central Asia have paid a price.

Transition has increased the gender gap in employment opportunities, increased gender inequalities in education, decreased the quality and availability of health services, increased women’s vulnerability including domestic violence against women, and enhanced traditional stereotypical values and behaviors.

Within the agriculture water management sector, gender disparities are seen in inheritance of land and the social reality of their claim to communal property, access to water, participation in carrying different responsibilities, control of resources, capacity and skill to participate in agriculture water management , access to markets and commercial linkages.

If we are going to tackle gender issues in Central Asian Countries, the following need to be addressed:

At the Macro level:

We will need to:

  • raise the awareness of policy makers, water managers, water users and women and men themselves, of the fact that economic transition and economic development are not Gender neutral.
  • strengthen information and analytical capacity – we need reliable information on baseline gender differentials and on the gender impact of policies, programs and reforms
  • support gender sensitive and participatory operations designed to address specific gender issues
  • foster greater collaboration between all stakeholders – government, NGOs, civil society and communities in water management
  • incorporate gender approaches in the development of the legislative basic in water sector

At the Micro level:

We will need to:

  • Publicly recognize women as irrigators, through joint membership into Water User Associations and Canal Water Committees
  • Set targets and quotas for women in representative structures of water management organizations
  • Facilitate women landowners to formalize their land and water rights
  • Build both male and female Awareness and Capacity on gender issues and its relation to water management
  • Develop qualified extension services to farmers
  • Increase the access of women to micro-credit facilities and financial sectors
  • Challenge the rigid norm that irrigation is, only and exclusively, a male affair

We the participants of the gender and water session, representative of government, NGOs, international agencies, farmers, research institutes and universities of Central Asia recognize that gender is central to water management. Water and agriculture projects and programs have failed to incorporate gender issues within their operations and we have collectively agreed to form a network on an informal basis to undertake specific activities as a first step in changing this reality.

The objectives of this network will be to:

  • raise awareness of the issues of gender in the region
  • attain knowledge and understanding of gender issues in water management
  • exchange experience and best practice of gender sensitive water management

We have agreed to further develop our initiative into a full project proposal. The network calls upon the GWP CACENA to play a coordinating role in fundraising and SIC ICWC to act as the information sharing center.

In conclusion, we believe that improved gender relations will increase effectiveness and efficiency in water productivity, water management and increase the general well being of very man, woman and child in Central Asia.






“Drinking water supply and population health” (joint session of World Bank, ADB, ICWC, ÀDB, ICWC, ÊNÒU)

Today, normal drinking water supply and sanitation is one of more urgent problems in the countries of the region in the context of social stability and population health ensuring. At the section, presided by Prof. M.M. Mirzaakhmetov, experience of Kazakhstan in the realization of governmental drinking water supply and sanitation program was presented.

Meetings of the GWP Regional Technical-Consultative Committee of Central Asia and Caucasus

On 28 May, the ordinary meeting of GWP RTCC of Central Asia and Caucasus was held, in which GWP Executive Secretary E. Gabrielli who made his first visit to the region, participated. At the meeting the following issues were discussed:

  • Lessons of creating the Country Water Partnership of Kazakhstan and the next actions on its functioning
  • Plan of concrete actions for conducting a campaign to raise public awareness of IWRM in the region’s countries in 2004
  • Discussing the presentation of the region at the annual GWP meeting in Malaysia in June 2004
  • RTCC members rotation
  • Discussing measures with regard to RTCC work program for 2004.

Final Plenary Session



Final Plenary Session participants

Final Plenary Session participants

The organization of all events on 26-28 May 2004 in Almaty was coordinated by the Interstate Commission for Water Coordination of Central Asia (ICWC) and implemented by the Water Resources Committee of the Kazakh Ministry of Agriculture, Scientific-Information Center of ICWC, and GWP Regional Technical Consultative Committee of Central Asia and Caucasus (GWP CACENA).

The conference participants expressed their gratitude to the main conference sponsors such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Global Water Partnership for their contribution to water partnership strengthening in the region.