CAREC Institute Presents Its Research at the First SDSN Kazakhstan Conference

30 May 2023

On May 30, Deputy Director Two of the CAREC Institute Dr. Iskandar Abdullaev presented the results of the institute’s latest research at the 1st SDSN Kazakhstan Conference on Sustainable Development Goals in Central Asia.

CAREC Institute’s research report “Water Infrastructure in Central Asia: Promoting Sustainable Financing and Private Capital Participation” notes that Soviet-era water infrastructure in Central Asia is becoming obsolete. Water leakage has become a problem, with some systems reporting water loss rates of up to 60 percent. Ownership of water infrastructure is largely public, although maintenance and operation costs are borne by various entities and are supported through various financial mechanisms. Water supply systems are not attractive to private investors, and private sector participation in the water sector is also constrained by agricultural policies and land ownership issues, as agricultural water supply in Central Asian countries is considered a social function of the state. There is a decline in funding for the water sector and delayed operation and maintenance has led to a severe deterioration of the water infrastructure. Fees for water use have been introduced in all countries of Central Asia, but they are symbolic and do not cover the operating costs of water. Service fees charged by state water organizations are not collected in full, as water users do not want to pay for unreliable water supply. Therefore, Central Asian countries need new technical solutions, new policy and economic frameworks to promote cooperation and integrated planning across sectors and regions. Intersectoral collaboration and integrated planning help reduce costs, evaluate trade-offs, demand-side intervention and decentralized services to ensure infrastructure and sector sustainability.

Based on the research results, Dr. Iskandar Abdullaev suggested that Central Asian countries create a favorable investment environment for the private sector, including a regulatory framework and effective interaction with government agencies, regulators, communities and other stakeholders in decision-making. In an era of transparency, it is essential to disclose critical information through openness and radical engagement with civil society and businesses. Agricultural policy also needs to be improved to allow the sector to become more market oriented, and unregulated policies may encourage private companies to invest in water services. Engaging the private sector can lead to more technological innovation in the water sector. The long-term effectiveness and sustainability of infrastructure is inextricably linked to how well stakeholders integrate and collaborate with each other, both across the relevant government agencies and others. “Capacity building and technology integration are key to improving both the operation and maintenance of water infrastructure and the provision of professional water services. And digitalization and wider application of new digital approaches in the water sector will increase the efficiency of the development and use of water resources,” said Dr. Iskandar Abdullaev.

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