Central Asia: Aspects of Transition

By Tom Everett-Heath | Go to book overview

13

WATER

The difficult path to a sustainable future for Central Asia

Kai Wegerich

It was Moscow, the centre, the Soviet Union … it was the barbaric use of water resources that led to the Aral tragedy.

(President Karimov, Uzbekistan) 1

The UNESCO ‘Vision 2025’ presented in The Hague in 2000 is an optimistic proposal for water management in Central Asia. The ambitious plan is to save 20 cubic kilometres (km) of water a year, so that the fast-shrinking Aral Sea can be stabilised at its current size.

The Aral Sea is a landlocked lake in Central Asia. In the beginning of the 1960s, it was still the fourth largest lake in the world. However, by the beginning of the 1990s, the surface area had decreased by half: from 66,085 square kilometres (km) to approximately 33,500 km. The lake is today divided into two separate bodies of water. The decline of the Aral Sea has had a considerable impact on the ecological, social and economic structures and systems that were traditionally established in the deltas of the lake. For example, the diminished size and increased salinity of the lake has caused a decline in the biodiversity of flora and fauna. One of the immediate consequences has been the disappearance of the tourism and fishing industries. High unemployment and social migration followed the decline, and the urbanisation of the autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan has accelerated accordingly, outstripping areas such as the Tashkent oblast. 2 Furthermore, the dwindling lake has caused polluting dust and salt storms, affecting not only the health of the inhabitants of the Aral Sea deltas, but also communities located throughout the region of the basin.

The UNESCO report for Central Asia aims at having 20 km of water annually allocated to the environment, that is, to the Aral Sea. It is hoped that the use of more efficient technology in agricultural production will bring a saving of water, and that the implementation of technical changes will lead to a decline of water use (see Table 13.1).

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Central Asia: Aspects of Transition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Turkfront 5
  • 2 - The Kokand Autonomy, 1917-18 30
  • Notes 44
  • 3 - Ethno-Territorial Claims in the Ferghana Valley During the Process of National Delimitation, 1924-7 45
  • 4 - Land and Water ‘reform’ in the 1920s 57
  • 5 - Nation Building in Turkey and Uzbekistan 80
  • 6 - Nation Building and Identity in the Kyrgyz Republic 106
  • 7 - The Use of History 132
  • 8 - Soviet Development in Central Asia 146
  • 9 - Environmental Issues in Central Asia 167
  • 11 - The Uzbek Mahalla 205
  • Notes 217
  • 12 - ‘Fundamentalism’ in Central Asia 219
  • Notes 240
  • 13 - Water 244
  • Bibliography 264
  • Index 283
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