Water Resources in Central Asia & Afghanistan » “Khovar” – National Information Agency of Tajikistan

Posted: April 12, 2012 in Confrontation, Economy and Resources, Environment, Geography, History, Human Rights, International, Politics, Region, Resources, Tajikistan
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Afghanistan is linked with the Central Asian Republics through trans-boundary water resources and almost 40% of its territory and 33% of its population reside within the Aral Sea Basin.

In terms of regional stability, the problem posed by Afghanistan relates to its use of water carried by the Amu Darya River, which is shared with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and eventually flows into the southern section, or ‘large’ Aral Sea. When, or if, the security situation stabilises in Afghanistan, much of the country’s development will focus on irrigated agriculture which will in turn, mean increased use of the water resources available from the already over-exploited Amu Darya

The increased use of water from the Amu Darya River may have serious consequences for inter-state relations with Central Asian neighbours. Increased agricultural production will obviously require water for irrigation and some experts have told me that post-war Afghanistan could double the amount of water it currently uses. Any cropping that takes place in the northern part of Afghanistan will draw water from the Amu Darya and such a situation will invariably create tension and enhance the risk of conflict with the Amu Darya’s downstream users, who already encounter water availability problems.

Indeed international agencies are endeavouring to encourage Afghan farmers to turn away from growing poppies which fuel the drug trade, to pomegranates. The land in Afghanistan is ideally suited for this purpose but, of course, the pomegranate is a thirsty crop and its wide-scale introduction will require careful handling. Consequently, the international community and development agencies must resist the temptation to assume that Afghanistan’s development needs automatically outweigh those of the Central Asian states.

Tajikistan also has a major role to play in bringing stability to this volatile region. Through the exploitation of its massive water resources, Tajikistan will soon be able to meet all of its own energy requirements while at the same time exporting electricity to its neighbours. A 500 Kv transmission line is already under construction linking Tajikistan and Afghanistan. The provision of electricity to this war-torn state will be a positive contribution towards restoring peace and re-building Afghanistan’s shattered economy.

Of course water issues affecting the upstream and downstream nations in Central Asia are a source of constant tension and the proposed construction of the Rogun reservoir on the Vakhsh River in Tajikistan has become a focus of controversy. When operational, Rogun will produce a massive 3600 MW at peak capacity. Over 45 miles of underground tunnels have already been completed during the Soviet era and 5000 workers are engaged day and night in the construction of giant underground halls where the turbines will be located. It is intended to dam the Vakhsh River in the steep narrow valley in which Rogun is located with a 335 metre high stone and clay embankment.

via Water Resources in Central Asia & Afghanistan » “Khovar” – National Information Agency of Tajikistan.

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