New Policy Brief on Adapting Resilient Water Management Practices to Climate Change in Central Asia

Jun 2024; Georg Petersen, CAREC Institute

Climate change represents a serious challenge for Central Asia’s water resources, resulting in changes in runoff patterns and respectively affecting the availability of water for its population, agriculture and energy sectors. The region’s dependence on glacier-fed rivers and inefficient use of its water resources exposes it to high risks. CAREC Institute’s recently published policy brief integrates a review of academic literature, the analysis of current policy frameworks and the empirical evaluation of the current situation in Central Asia related to the water management practices.

Central Asia has substantial water resources, but is lacking strong management practices.  The populations in Central Asia are growing, leading to a reduced per-capita water availability which is in addition exacerbated by climate change. Respectively, adopting integrated, efficient water use strategies is crucial to reduce water needs. Further, considering the expected changes in snow- and glacier melt and changes in rainfall patterns within Central Asia, diversification of water sources should be considered.

To build resilience, it is recommended that Central Asia looks at alternative water sources such as rainwater harvesting, groundwater or recycling wastewater. At the same time, the region needs to make strategic investments into irrigation modernization programs and promote drought resilient farming techniques. Furthermore, Central Asia should establish regional working groups and engage with international experts and funding agencies to implement adaptive, resilient water management strategies. Central Asia’s water future hinges on proactive adaptation: diversifying water sources, upgrading infrastructure, and promotion of regional cooperation.

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