Recently, the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program introduced agriculture and water as a new cluster in its strategic framework. Recognizing the complexities of the water sector and the existing landscape of cooperation activities, the strategic framework proposes a complementary approach that uses the strengths of CAREC to further promote dialogue on water issues. A scoping study was commissioned, supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), to develop a framework for the Water Pillar for further consideration by the governing bodies of CAREC. It was agreed that the initial focus of the Water Pillar should be on the five Central Asian states with consideration given to expanding to other CAREC member countries over time.

The objective of the study is to develop the scope of a Water Pillar Framework that includes a roadmap of national development interventions for each of the five Central Asian Republics that responds to the prevailing challenges and opportunities in water resources management.

The framework will be derived from three specific outputs:

  • Output 1: Projection of future availability and demand for water resources for the Central Asia region up to 2050 including implications of climate change.
  • Output 2: Identification of future water resources development and management opportunities in the form of a sector specific framework for water resources infrastructure taking into consideration sustainability issues through a comparative assessment of cost recovery mechanisms and operation and maintenance (O&M) practices.
  • Output 3: Preparation of a framework for policy and institutional strengthening that addresses common themes and issues related to national water resources legislation and the capacity and knowledge development needs of water resources agencies with an emphasis on economic aspects and sustainable financing.

For this work, several consultants were recruited. FutureWater provides key inputs on the climate change and water resources aspects, including desk review, stakeholder consultations across the five regions and across all sectors, and analysis of climate change risks and identification of adaptation options that have a regional dimension and can be taken up through regional or bilateral cooperation.

The Asian Development Bank supports Tajikistan in achieving increased climate resilience and food security through investments in modernization of Irrigation and Drainage (I&D) projects. A Technical Assistance is preparing modernization projects for two I&D systems in the Lower Vaksh river basin in Tajikistan. In line with this, the TA will prepare a holistic feasibility study and project design for the system (38,000 ha), as well as advanced designs and bidding documents for selected works.

FutureWater is part of the team of international experts, working together with the local consultant on the climate risk and adaptation assessment that accompanies the feasibility projects. For this purpose, past climate trends will be analyzed, climate model projections processed, and a climate impact model will be used to assess how the project performs under a wide range of future conditions, to assess the robustness of the proposed I&D investments, and identify possible climate adaptation measures.

ADB is providing a technical assistance grant to the government of Tajikistan (the government) for the preparation of the CAREC corridors 2, 3, and 5 (Obigarm–Nurobod) Road Project. The project road, about 72 km long, will replace a section of the existing M41 highway that will be inundated due to the construction of the Rogun Hydropower (HPP) project. The project road passes through mountainous terrain and includes 3 tunnels of total length about 6 km, several substantial bridges, and a high level 700 m long bridge over the future hydropower reservoir. The bypass road must be completed and opened to traffic by latest November 2023, the date by which the rising water in the HPP reservoir will have inundated several critical sections of the M41 highway. No other part of Tajikistan’s national highway network can provide for this traffic, and the only alternative route would represent a deviation of about 500 km.

The executing agency for implementing the project is the Ministry of Transport (MOT), represented by its Project Implementation Unit for Roads Rehabilitation (PIURR). The detailed design of the road has been completed by a national design consultant appointed by Tajikitan’s Ministry of Transport (MOT). This climate risk and vulnerability assessment (CRVA) has examined the proposed components for CAREC corridors 2, 3, and 5. A detailed climate risk assessment was conducted for the project road for the period to 2050 to ensure the design specifications are adequate for future climatic conditions. The climate model analysis yields following conclusions:

  • Temperature increases by about 2.4 °C (RCP4.5) to 3.1 °C (RCP8.5) are to be expected.
  • Minimum and maximum temperature are likely to change inconsistently, with maximum air temperatures increasing more than minimum air temperatures.
  • Extremes related to temperatures (e.g. warm spells, extremely warm days) are likely to increase in frequency and intensity.
  • Precipitation totals are likely to increase slightly but a large spread in precipitation projections has to be noted.
  • Precipitation extremes are likely to increase in frequency and intensity. For example, maximum 1-day precipitation volumes with return periods of 50 and 100 years are expected to increase by about 20% according to the 75th percentile values in the distribution of change projections of the entire climate model ensemble.

The increase in extreme precipitation events is considered as the most important climate risk for the project road. This not only leads to higher extreme discharge events but can also lead to more frequent and more powerful mudflows, landslides, and/or avalanches. The increase in temperature can pose additional loadings from thermal expansion to bridge joints and bearings as well as the road pavement asphalt, but it is unlikely that these would be significant.

The project design consultant team recalculated the expected flow characteristics for bridge sections for 1:100 years discharge events using a foreseen 20% increase in daily maximum precipitation. The recalculations reveal that bridges have sufficient capacity in the current design to cope with higher discharge levels in the future, although it would be prudent to check the bridge substructure designs to withstand higher flow velocities and increased debris content in the flow. Heavier scour protection works may be required if structural deterioration of bridge components is observed. The project design consultant team similarly recalculated the expected flow characteristics for culvert and roadside drains, but now for 1:50 years discharge events considering a 20% precipitation increase. The recalculations reveal that the drainage capacity of the culverts is well in excess of foreseen increases in flow, whether it be precipitation, mudflow, or avalanche.

The SREB is part of the Belt and Road Initiative, being a development strategy that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries. Essentially, the SREB includes countries situated on the original Silk Road through Central Asia, West Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. The initiative calls for the integration of the region into a cohesive economic area through building infrastructure, increasing cultural exchanges, and broadening trade. A major part of the SREB traverses Asia’s high-altitude areas, also referred to as the Third Pole or the Asian Water Tower. In the light of the planned development for the SREB traversing the Third Pole and its immediate surroundings, the “Pan-Third Pole Environment study for a Green Silk Road (Pan-TPE)” program will be implemented.

The project will assess the state and fate of water resources in the region under following research themes:

1. Observed and projected Pan-TPE climate change
2. Impacts on the present and future Water Tower of Asia
3. The Green Silk Road and changes in water demand
4. Adaptation for green development

The energy sector is sensitive to changes in seasonal weather patterns and extremes that can affect the supply of energy, harm transmission capacity, disrupt oil and gas production, and impact the integrity of transmission pipelines and power distribution. Most infrastructure has been built to design codes based on historic climate data and will require rehabilitation, upgrade or replacement in the coming years. This poses both a challenge and an opportunity for adaptation. Central Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world. Expected climate impacts range from increased temperature (across the region), changes in precipitation and snow, greater extreme weather events, aridisation and desertification, health, and changes in water resources.

Toktogul reservoir, Kyrgyzstan

Energy and water are closely interrelated as water is used to generate energy (hydropower, cooling of thermal plants) but energy is also required to fulfil water needs (e.g. pumping, water treatment, desalination). Especially in Central Asia, meeting daily energy needs depends to a large extent on water. Guaranteeing sufficient water resources for energy production, and appropriately allocating the limited supply, is becoming increasingly difficult. As the region’s population keeps on growing, competing demand for water from other sectors is expected to grow, potentially exacerbating the issue.

The World Bank is committed to working with the governments of Central Asia to undertake analysis and to identify priorities in adaptation to climate change, including strengthening regional trade through a rigorous, transparent region-scale study. Therefore it currently undertakes a regional assessment to identify areas of possible coordination and possible transboundary impact. The overall project objective is to contribute to a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities for effective joint management of climate adaptation, contributing to the objective of the World Bank’s Central Asia strategy of energy and water security through enhanced cooperation. The results of this assessment should guide current and future decision-makers on options for investments in and management of power generation and transmission/distribution assets through enhanced cooperation.

Amy_Darya_Syr_Darya_mapThe objective of this study is to support the “Central Asia Regional Energy Sector Vulnerability Study” led by Industrial Economics (IEc) and funded by the World Bank, by carrying out an expanded risk assessment for water availability and water related energy sector impacts in the region. The work will build on the existing tools developed previously for Syr Darya and Amu Darya basins. Various necessary extensions and enhancements of the tools will be made to include the latest understanding of climatological and hydrological processes and include the latest planned investments in hydropower facilities and cooling water abstractions of the thermal power plants in the region.

Water resources management in the Central Asia region faces big challenges. The hydrological regimes of the two major rivers in the region, the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya, are complex and vulnerable to climate change. Water diversions to agricultural, industrial and domestic users have reduced flows in downstream regions, resulting in severe ecological damages. The administrative-institutional system is fragmented, with six independent countries sharing control, often with contradicting objectives.

Under the leadership of the Finnish Consulting Group and in collaboration with the Finnish Meteorological Institute, FutureWater develops hydrological models to assess the water resources availability in the region under climate change. The project focuses on the Aral Sea basin (Pamir and Tien Shan mountains) in Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Hydrological models are developed for the Amu Darya and Syr Darya and include several climate change impact scenarios. The project develops national capacity in each of the participating countries to use the models to prepare climate change impact scenarios and develop adaptation strategies. This will then result in improved national strategies for climate change adaptation. We collaborate closely with the main regional and national organizations responsible for land and water management.