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Decades of mismanagement, increasing nationalism and worsening border relations make water management in the semi-arid Central Asian republics especially challenging. Water policies, institutions and practices established during the Soviet era are no longer adequate for the five independent nations, each with their own national interests, resources and capabilities.
USAID is pursuing a multi-pronged approach to water management, including confidence-building measures to nurture immediate, concrete, regional cooperative steps to build support for technical regional cooperation. Projects range from the international level down to the farm level.
To improve resource efficiency and mitigate transboundary conflict, USAID/CAR is assisting water managers and policymakers with a wide array of technical assistance, equipment upgrades, demonstration projects, training and public awareness activities. Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Tajik water policymakers are full participants in a transboundary water and energy program, the goal of which is to achieve regional cooperation through the establishment of agreements based on international standards.
USAID/CAR is working with National Hydromet Services in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to improve their capability to collect, communicate and process both national and international water data. Water managers have been trained and equipped with the necessary tools to receive satellite data for forecasting water availability from mountain snowmelt and river flows. In Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, USAID/CAR is upgrading the Hydromets' communication systems and installing new hydrometeorlogical stations.
In order to conserve water on the farm level, USAID supports policy reform and legislation on water user groups. Assistance is being provided to local water user groups on how to manage their systems and determine irrigation water needs based on soil conditions and crop needs.
With USAID funding, the National Irrigation Institute of Kyrgyzstan now has a Website Center with the ability to better allocate water resources through improved planning and communications. In Uzbekistan, demonstration models are being established to improve water management on a water district level through infrastructure and communication upgrades, plus use of water planning and use software programs.
Turkmen water mangers are participating in several different water
training programs funded by USAID/CAR. Staff from the Turkmen National
Hydromet Service can better collect and communicate water data through an
upgrade of their communication and data processing system.