Turkmenistan Water Resources Policy in Central Asia
For the people of Central Asia, water is the key factor of their sustainable development. Turkmenistan is a water deficit country. Taking into consideration that the greater part of the country’s territory is covered by the Karakum Desert, it is quite understandable that the water is the critical issue here. Turkmenistan gets its share of water (fixed in agreements) from four transboundary rivers – Amu Darya, Murghab, Tejen, and Atrek – flowing over the territories of several states, i.e., Afghanistan, Iran, and Uzbekistan.
The largest users of water in Turkmenistan are irrigated farming and agriculture – growing of cotton, cereals, and vegetables. They account for around 70% of the total water consumption. Insignificant volumes of water are directed to municipal water supply of the population and other industries.
Water is supplied via the system of main canals from the main source – the Amu Darya River belonging to the Aral Sea Basin. Water runs along the world’s longest irrigation and water supply waterway – the Karakum Canal more than 1,300 km long. It nearly reaches the Caspian Sea.
After the declaration of independence by the Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan), the mechanism of joint non-conflict use of water resources established in the period of the Soviet Union was broken down. And from this time on, each of these countries was endeavoring to assert its interests in the struggle for natural resources, the key one of which was water resources that had acquired transboundary dimensions.
Numerous attempts to find the comprehensive regional solutions satisfying these countries in the new geopolitical reality had faced mutual distrust which impeded arriving to some comprise (compensation) decision. In Central Asia in conditions of climate changes, the water issue has become the most important and, in some cases, even crucial factor for further development. In such situation only the regional consensus may become the platform for efficient interaction of states in finding the way for environmentally sustainable development.
KeywordsConflict Transboundary water Turkmenistan Water diplomacy Water resources
A.G. Kostianoy was partially supported in the framework of the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology RAS budgetary financing (Project N 149-2018-0003).
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