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Water 2017, 9(2), 139;

Could Changing Power Relationships Lead to Better Water Sharing in Central Asia?

Department of International Affairs, Eurasian National University, Kazhymukan Munaytpasov Street 13, Astana 010000, Kazakhstan
Department of Water Resources Engineering & Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University, Box 118, SE‐221 00 Lund, Sweden
Department of International Cooperation and Bologna Process, Karaganda State Medical University, Gogol Street 40, Karagandy 100048, Kazakhstan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 December 2016 / Accepted: 16 February 2017 / Published: 20 February 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Water Management in Central Asia)
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Even though Central Asia is water rich, water disputes have characterized the region after crumbling of the Soviet Union in 1991. The uneven spatial distribution and complex pattern of transboundary water sources with contrasting national water needs have created an intricate water dilemma. Increasing national water needs, water claims by surrounding countries, uncertainties in renewable water volumes, and effects of climate change will put further strain on the future water use in Central Asia. We argue that the present power distribution with three downstream hegemons (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) and two upstream much poorer countries with less political influence (Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) is not likely to lead forward to a greater willingness to share water. We discuss this situation with the analogue Egypt-Sudan-Ethiopia in the Nile Basin. Thus, as in the case of Ethiopia in the Nile Basin, gradually economically stronger upstream countries Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan due to hydropower development are likely to eventually re-define the hydropolitical map of Central Asia. As in the case of the Nile Basin, a more even power balance between upstream and downstream countries may lead to an improved political structure for a much-needed better collaboration on water issues. View Full-Text
Keywords: Central Asia; hydropolitics; water management; water conflict; transboundary water;  climate change Central Asia; hydropolitics; water management; water conflict; transboundary water;  climate change

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Zhupankhan, A.; Tussupova, K.; Berndtsson, R. Could Changing Power Relationships Lead to Better Water Sharing in Central Asia? Water 2017, 9, 139.

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