Central Asia’s difficulties with water shortages will sharply worsen as a result of the construction of the Qosh Tepa canal in Afghanistan, chairman of the board of the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), Nikolai Podguzov, was on October 26 reported by AKIPress as saying at a meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the CIS countries in Bishkek.
Podguzov was quoted as saying: "Central Asia is one of the most vulnerable places on the planet to climate change. Now the flow of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya [rivers] is 116 cubic kilometres [116bn cubic metres]. This is our resource, but it is declining, and this entails huge risks for agriculture and food security. Some 92% of the water used in the Aral Sea basin is spent on irrigation, so the key to solving problems is effective irrigation and joint work on water resource management."
He added: "The problem of water shortages in Central Asia will sharply worsen as a result of the construction of the Qosh Tepa water canal in Afghanistan. The goal of the project is large-scale development of irrigated lands and water resources of the Amur Darya. The canal is being built based on low technological standards, which will lead to large losses of water during its operation.
“It is planned that the canal will be put into operation by 2028. Construction has already begun and upon its completion, additional water intake in the upper reaches of the Amu Darya can reach 10 cubic kilometres. This will sharply reduce access to water in the middle and lower reaches of the Amu Darya, especially in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan."
Even without the emergence of the Qosh Tepa canal, being built by Afghanistan’s Taliban regime, Central Asia is looking at a chronic water deficit by 2028-2029, according to Podguzov.
He was further cited as saying: "The deficit will reach from five to 12 cubic kilometres a year. There will be a chronic shortage of water, regardless of the water availability [volume changed by Qosh Tepa].
“This means we have about five years to solve the problem. And if there is no solution, the risks are absolutely unacceptable for the region. They include shortages of food, drinking water, energy and many other consequences," the EDB chairman stated.
Uzbekistan has announced that it is to pursue mediation with Afghanistan over the water sharing rights that will prevail after the Qosh Tepa canal is complete. As things stand, Afghanistan has no such water sharing agreements with its Central Asian neighbours.
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