you're reading...
International Relations, PUBLICATIONS

Water disputes in Central Asia: Rising tension threatens regional stability

Written by Konur Alp Kocak
Water disputes in Central Asia: Rising tension threatens regional stability

© Željko Radojko / Fotolia

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, water management has caused severe disputes in Central Asia, due to conflicting needs and priorities between the upstream and downstream countries, thus endangering regional stability and security. In terms of distribution of natural resources, the countries in the region are divided into two groups: ‘energy-poor but water-rich’ upstream countries (Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) and ‘energy-rich but water-poor’ downstream countries (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). While the first group is in dire need of water for energy, downstream countries need water for agriculture. As a result, natural resources have emerged not as tools for facilitating regional cooperation but as a source of conflict.

The dispute over Tajikistan’s Rogun Hydropower Plant Project represents a concrete example of the water-energy-food nexus in the region. As tension between energy-deprived Tajikistan and water-starved Uzbekistan grows, water becomes a source of conflict, posing a significant threat to regional stability. Bellicose statements from the leaders of Central Asian states reflect the importance of water-related disputes: Uzbek President Islam Karimov stated that ‘water-related problems could spark wars’.

Disagreement on water management has prompted initiatives from inside the region and from international actors, and the European Union is no exception. The EU’s Central Asia Strategy, identified ‘environment and water management’ as a priority area. The EU has repeatedly stated that water-related disputes pose a major threat to regional security and stability. Recently, the Council Conclusions of June 2015 re-emphasised the critical importance of the issue. Possible acceleration of tension between the Central Asian states may deteriorate stability and security in the region, which already faces various other threats.

Read the complete Briefing on ‘Water disputes in Central Asia: Rising tension threatens regional stability‘ in PDF.



This slideshow requires JavaScript.


3 thoughts on “Water disputes in Central Asia: Rising tension threatens regional stability

  1. Good day, Sirs, how can I contact the author of this article? I am interested to request a map of water resources he used for printing. Thanks!

    Posted by Aksulu Kushanova | March 13, 2019, 05:13


  1. Pingback: Water disputes in Central Asia: Rising tension threatens regional stability | - November 5, 2015

Leave a Reply

Download the EPRS App

EPRS App on Google Play
EPRS App on App Store
What Europe Does For You
EU Legislation in Progress
Topical Digests
EPRS Podcasts

Follow Blog via Email

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,544 other subscribers

RSS Link to Members’ Research Service

Disclaimer and Copyright statement

The content of all documents (and articles) contained in this blog is the sole responsibility of the author and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament. It is addressed to the Members and staff of the EP for their parliamentary work. Reproduction and translation for non-commercial purposes are authorised, provided the source is acknowledged and the European Parliament is given prior notice and sent a copy.

For a comprehensive description of our cookie and data protection policies, please visit Terms and Conditions page.

Copyright © European Union, 2014-2019. All rights reserved.

%d bloggers like this: