Nazarbayev University researcher explained how to establish river basin management at the local level

Stefanos Xenarios, Associate Professor of the Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Public Policy, has been doing research on water management issues in Kazakhstan for more than five years. He commented on the current state of the industry and told how to improve management issues.

“Kazakhstan pays great attention to river economies in terms of water quality or quantity. And this is correct, because the issue of water quality does not lose its relevance. However, from a management point of view, each river turns out to have its own organization that controls what is happening. Important decisions are made in a council with the participation of stakeholders. In my opinion, water security issues should be resolved at the community level, with the people who live there. This is very important, because they use water in everyday life and they will be the first to suffer if something goes wrong,” said the researcher.

Xenarios believes that representatives from the outside communities like agriculture or industry need to be invited to the community councils to find out their understanding of water security and how to improve it at the local level.

For the discussion of transboundary water issues, the presence of representatives of neighboring states is critical. If the instruments of cooperation and communication between the countries of Central Asia were established, it would be possible to avoid many tragic incidents, such as a dam break in the Sardoba reservoir, the scientist explains.

“It works with an early warning system that flash floods started in the upper reaches of the river, for example. Or if we saw that a lot of water is coming from, say, Tajikistan, from the Syr Darya, and the water is getting closer and closer, we could already start evacuating the surrounding areas. Even the absence of international communication systems would not hurt, because early warning systems can work from mobile phones.”

At the same time, the professor notes that there are already a number of organizations that bring together representatives of Central Asian countries to discuss issues of water resources management and safe water supply, but 80% of the survey participants consider these dialogues to be ineffective.

For more information, please contact Nazarbayev University Press-Office by email pressa@nu.edu.kz