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Central Asian Regional Water Tensions to Increase

UNDP senior economist Ben Slay has reported in his blog that the water-challenged Central Asian region faces drought conditions this summer, raising tensions among Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, all of whom depend on unimpeded access to water for both hydroelectric generation of power and agriculture.

Azerbaijan's Trend news agency reported that Slay wrote, "The latest data from CAWATER (Central Asian water website portal) show that, as of May 2011, water volumes at Uzbekistan’s Charvak and Tyuyamuyn reservoirs, but also at Tajikistan’s Kayrakkum dam were well below seasonal volume."

The UNDP noted that the drought could affect cotton fields in Uzbekistan’s Khorezm and Karakalpakstan regions, as well as cotton crops further downstream in Turkmenistan’s northern Dashoguz province, which borders western Uzbekistan. Further concerning the UNDP, the drought could unleash further inflationary forces on the region’s food crops, especially as food price inflation in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, two Central Asia’s poorest states is now above 20 percent, even though they are the region’s richest countries in terms of upstream water resources, and a scarcity of water for agricultural irrigation caused by drought conditions could cause food prices to soar in the their western downstream neighbor states of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

By. Charles Kennedy, Deputy Editor OilPrice.com


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