Over 100 senior officials, managers of sectoral agencies and hydrometeorological organizations, experts and representatives of the private sector from five Central Asian countries - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan - discussed regional initiatives for sustainable water supply and sanitation in the context of climate change in Tashkent.
The two-day conference “Towards Sustainable and Climate-Resilient Water Supply and Sanitation Services in Central Asia” was organized at the initiative of the World Bank in cooperation with the Ministry of housing and utilities of Uzbekistan, with funding from the Central Asia Water and Energy Program (CAWEP) and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).
“Water and sanitation systems don’t just improve health and save lives, they are also a critical part of building stable and prosperous economies in Central Asia. Collectively addressing water and sanitation challenges should be one of our top priorities in the region,” said Lilia Burunciuc, World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia.
“The conference in Tashkent can be viewed as a new platform for interaction among regional water supply and sanitation professionals. The World Bank, along with other development partners, is glad to support the renewed regional water dialogue,” she added.
Frequent floods, droughts, intense seasonal variations in precipitation, temperature changes, seasonal shifts and other adverse effects of the changing climate are felt in all sectors of the economy, and especially in the water sector in the form of damage to vital infrastructure.
Participants of the Tashkent conference considered ways of deepening regional cooperation in the field of water resources management and water quality ensuring. In this regard, follow-up activities were developed to support a longer-term initiative to enhance collaboration between Central Asian water supply and sanitary sector policymakers and utilities, as well as to address common challenges and opportunities in the region in this field.
The exchange of views focused on institutional development of public services, reforms in the water and sanitation sector in Central Asian countries, as well as access to water supply in rural areas.
Experts from Bulgaria, Portugal, South Africa and Israel, as well as from the World Bank Group, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Secretariat for Water and International Association of Water Supply Companies in the Danube River Catchment Area will share international best practices in the above-mentioned areas that may be applied in the Central Asian context. In particular, their presentations covered such topics such as managing water safety, creating water corporations and attracting commercial financing in the water supply sector.
According to the organizers of the forum, the information and best practices voiced by the participants during the discussions can be mainstreamed into the national-level long-term development plans.
The estimated 30% population growth and economic development in the Central Asian countries by 2050 will also significantly increase the demand for water services. The adoption of advanced agricultural technologies, including irrigation, in three decades will improve crop’s yields in the region by 50%, and water, used today for irrigation, will meet the growing demand from the population and industry.
The Central Asia Water and Energy Program (CAWEP) is a partnership between the World Bank, the European Union, Switzerland and the United Kingdom to strengthen the enabling environment to promote water and energy security at the regional level and in the beneficiary countries.
The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) is a global partnership that helps developing countries better understand and reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change. GFDRR is a grant-funding mechanism, managed by the World Bank, that supports disaster risk management projects worldwide.