An official handover ceremony of a water measurement system will take place on June 23 along the Aspara River in the village of Cholok-Aryk. The ceremony is part of a U.S. Government program fostering transboundary water cooperation funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the Regional Center for Central Asia (CAREC). The project promotes cooperation on water management at the local level, particularly by involving local communities.
Challenges faced by water users in the Aspara River basin include water quality, an insufficient supply of water for agriculture, deteriorated irrigation systems, and insufficient agricultural labor due to out-migration. Water-related conflicts at the community level are common. To address these issues, the USAID project created Small Basin Councils (SBC) on both the Kazakhstan and Kyrgyz sides of the river to bring together water stakeholders. Membership in SBCs includes representatives of local authorities, NGOs, water users, and local communities. SBCs on both sides of the border decided to hold a joint meeting before the beginning of the growing season.
The first such meeting was held in May 2013, attended by representatives from both Kazakhstani and Kyrgyz SBCs. Following the meeting, the parties agreed to closer cooperation and adopted a common approach to transboundary water management. Both parties identified the importance of water measuring equipment to generate accurate river flow monitoring data in order to have a shared baseline from which to determine water allocations.
Mr. Kanat Davletov, the SBC chairman from the Kyrgyz Republic, said the he believes that “the SBC provides a venue for solving pressing water management problems. We believe that problems such as this are best solved at the lowest – the local – level.”