Asie centrale

Revue

Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement

Central Asia: Water, a Source of Competing Desires

Water, a major issue in ecological, energy and food terms in former Soviet Central Asia, is the object of everyone’s desires in this region formed by Kirghizstan, Tajikistan (the two upstream countries), Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan (the three downstream countries). With increasingly random hydraulic resources apparently very insufficient for the needs of 60 million inhabitants, tensions are rising between the upstream and downstream countries. At the heart of the problem is the management of the watercourses running through the region. “The upstream countries are also clashing between themselves [over this issue], while the action of the downstream countries is characterized by a lack of coordination”, notes Alain Lamballe, before going on to write of the role played by China and, indeed, Afghanistan.

In order to situate these various conflicts in their context, Lamballe devotes the first part of his article to a detailed presentation of the geographical and hydrological situation of the region. He goes on to explain the reasons for the area being low on water resources. He then describes where the interests of each country lie and elucidates the existing tensions, noting how little has been achieved in past bilateral and multinational negotiations.

Emphasizing the harmful effects of human activity on the environment during the Soviet period, when crops were favoured that made heavy demands in terms of water (such as cotton), Lamballe reveals the urgency of the situation and evokes the possibility of water shortages in the region. In this context, he advocates a shared, rational management of water resources and the intervention of international experts. “Priority must be given to multinational negotiations, either within or outside of regional organizations.”

This forms part of a series of articles published in the Futuribles journal on the tensions relating to the control and use of water resources (see text box at end).

Note de veille

Géopolitique - Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement

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Bibliography

Économie, emploi - Géopolitique

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