First steps towards water diplomacy on the river Kurkureu su – the establishment of a small basin council
The Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC) has initiated the establishment of a small basin council on the transboundary Kurkureu su river for productive cross-border cooperation. The initiative is implemented in the framework of Smart Waters project under financial support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The river Kurkureu su is a small transboundary river between Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic, that provides irrigation water for about 8 thousand hectares of irrigated land. To date, the water allocation in the river basin is still governed by a regulation which remained a guidance for water users since the time of Kazakh SSR and Kirghiz SSR – the document is over 70 years old. While some parts of the water intake facilities are outdated, there is also a problem of poor water supply from the river flow in some areas of the basin.
Such fate overtook the residents of Zhualyn area of the Republic of Kazakhstan, where the surface of cultivated land decreases every year. The Kazakh side is unable to do any repair works or mechanical cleaning of the channels because of the existing border regime and poor communication with the water users from the Kyrgyz side of the river.
The first step towards an effective water allocation in the area was the establishment of a small basin council (SBC) on the Kazakh side of the river Kurkureu su in February 2017. This became possible through the work of the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia with the financial support of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in the framework of Smart Waters project.
The main purpose of SBC is to bring together all the stakeholders for the rational use of water resources and facilities based on the use of integrated water management principles. SBC members make plans for the development of territories and the joint management of water resources, monitor their execution. SBC is intended to ensure the participation of local authorities, water users and the society in the elaboration and adoption of decisions on the use of water resources in the basin.
«A water allocation through the principles of integrated water resources management will increase the environmental potential of 1604 hectares of irrigated land beneath the channels of the Kurkureu su», – concluded Mr. Zhumabek Mukhatov, Head of the Chu-Talas basin inspection, at the preliminary meeting on the establishment of the Kurkureusu river SBC in Kazakhstan, February 2, 2016.
For the first time a SBC membership includes heads of the region scale departments such as Head of the department of ecological regulation under the Department for ecology in Zhambyl region, Deputy commander of the border guard unit of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Head of the Chu-Talas basin inspection. According to Mr. Alexander Kamenskiy, CAREC coordinator at the pilot territories, the Kyrgyz side will also be offered support to create such basin council for better dialogue and cooperation between the two countries.
The USAID Smart Waters project is implemented by the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC) in six countries of the Central Asian region: Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The main goal of the project is to address the knowledge dis-lock in the region in water sector, build working relations among water