International River Basin Management in the Face of Change: Syr Darya Basin Case Study


The conflict over water resources exploitation and sharing in the Aral Sea Basin is one of the most pressing environmental issues yet to be resolved in Central Asia. Presently, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya upstream states of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan desire to employ water resources for hydropower; while downstream Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan wish to continue practicing irrigated agriculture. This scarce and over-allocated resource, facing the needs of a growing population and climate change uncertainties, should be managed collaboratively and sustainably to be able to meet and withstand the upcoming challenges. OSU Graduate Dr. Mariya Pak's dissertation examines water management practices in the face of government regime change both in large and small river basins within Central Asia by analyzing international water agreements, correspondence between water managers, official reports, maps, and other archival documents. The results reveal that conflict over water resources in Central Asia existed long before the fall of the Soviet Union both in the large Syr Darya Basin, as well as within its small tributaries. The Soviet planned economy, along with the basin planning framework, set competition for water between the riparian states. Analysis of the infrastructure construction negotiations in these small shared tributaries showed that the former Soviet Republics used non-cooperative negotiation strategies to out compete their rivals.

Mariya recommends based on the outcome of this research for regional cooperation in water management in the basin as it is shown that hydro-political competition may lead only to short term benefits, in the long run however, it is proven lead to heavy economic, social, political, and environmental costs. Her dissertation titled International river basin management in the face of change: Syr Darya Basin case study is available on OSU's Scholar's Archive.   Her research was also published in a peer-reviewed journal article: Re-examining conflict and cooperation in Central Asia: a case study from the Isfara River, Ferghana Valley.

To complete this research Mariya Pak collected meeting protocols, agreements, and other official documents on the governance and management of the tributaries in the Ferghana Valley.  The documents have been translated in to English; however, this is not an official legal translation.  They can be downloaded in the zip files below: