Central Asia is endowed with water and rich and varied energy resources. Water resources, which are increasingly under stress, have an important geographic and economic dimension, with downstream countries highly dependent on upstream countries for essential water for irrigation. Hydropower resources are concentrated in the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, the upstream countries of Central Asia’s Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers. Thermal resources are concentrated in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Thus, energy-water linkages are inextricable from perceptions of national security, regional stability and economic growth.
The World Bank recognizes that the sound management of water resources for both irrigation and power generation is critical for the sustainable development of all the countries in Central Asia. The Bank’s approach to water and energy issues in Central Asia is based on both regional and country level programs which must deliver benefits to each country in the region.
At the country level, the World Bank is supporting a number of energy and water resources projects and studies in Central Asia. Many have regional significance and benefits and others have more localized project or country level benefits.
At the regional level, in response to requests from Central Asian governments, the World Bank is actively engaged in dialogue on energy/water issues with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, acting in the best interests of all its member countries and taking maximum care in the application of its policies, including environmental and social safeguard policies.
As part of its regional approach, the Bank has initiated a comprehensive Central Asia Energy-Water Development Program (CAEWDP), initially a four-year program, which aims to improve diagnostics and analytical tools to support the countries of the region in well-informed decision-making to manage their water and energy resources, strengthen regional institutions, and stimulate investments.
The main components of the CAEWDP are:
- Energy Development to promote highest value energy investments and management. Areas of focus include: infrastructure planning, winter energy security, energy trade, energy accountability, and institutional development;
- Energy-Water Linkages to improve the understanding of linkages between water and energy at the national and regional levels. Areas of focus include: energy-water modeling, regional hydrometeorology, climate vulnerability, and energy-water dialogue;
- Water Productivity to enhance the productivity and efficiency of water use in both agriculture and energy sectors. Areas of focus include: capacity strengthening, 3rd Aral Sea Basin Management Program, national action plans for water productivity, and rehabilitation of infrastructure.
The CAEWDP also aims to coordinate and leverage the contributions of other development partners, to provide critical technical support as well as financial resources for the program. Several development partners are currently involved in Central Asia, in both water and energy, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the European Commission (EC), Eurasian Development Bank, UNDP, UNECE, Germany (GTZ), Switzerland (SECO), UK (DFID), the US (USAID), and the Aga Khan Foundation.
The World Bank is currently discussing the CAEWDP with these and other potential partners in an effort to establish a multi-donor trust fund to support the core elements of the program. This partnership will build on current joint energy activities, such as co-chairing with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) the implementation of the Energy Action Plan of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Energy Sector Coordinating Committee for Central Asia. The World Bank is also partnering with a broad group of donors to support the work of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS), coordinating the multilateral development banks’ climate adaptation program for Tajikistan and a Regional Hydrometeorology Program across the region.