Compensatory mechanism may help solve water problem in Central Asia

Water problems in Central Asia can be solved in several ways, including the creation of a compensation mechanism for cooperation in the field of using water and energy resources in the region, Russian expert on Central Asia Leonid Gusev said.

"It is possible to create a compensation mechanism cooperatively when using water and energy resources in the region," senior fellow at the Institute of International Studies at the Russian Foreign Ministry's Moscow State Institute of the International Relations Leonid Gusev told Trend today. "This can be a more profitable scenario than the policy of ensuring energy and water self-sufficiency of each country."

He added that it is advisable to form such a mechanism within the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC), by inviting Turkmenistan which is not a part of the community for cooperation.

"Moreover, the key to successful problem solving in the field of water and energy regulation within the EurAsEC is consistently holding a political course by all those concerned to find balanced decisions," Gusev said.

He stressed that Russia as a disinterested party may serve here as a negotiator and as a source of loan and investment resources to implement the priority projects.
The water problem in the region is unlikely to lead to an armed conflict, Gusev said.

"No matter how strong the confrontation between the Central Asian countries might be on this issue, their leaders understand that such events could cause a collapse in the region. Then radical extremist groups would immediately take advantage of this and the situation may become aggravated everywhere."

He added that all the countries in the region suffer economic damage from the unresolved problem with water use.

According to the UN Development Programme, the unresolved problems with exploitation of water resources in Central Asia annually create losses worth $1.7 billion due to mismanagement of water resources.

The problem with water use in Central Asia will be exacerbated due to high population growth rates in the long term prospect, Gusev said.

"However, each of the Central Asian countries seeks to solve the water problem unilaterally and by using this method sees it as the only advantageous way ahead," the expert said.

The main problem is that the interests of the countries using water resources do not coincide, he said. Some countries want to use the water in the irrigation mode, others for power. As a result, a conflict situation occurs.

He added that it is necessary to remember that water resources must be used for irrigation in the summer. The main water consumption falls to the winter with heavier power use.