Joop de Schutter, partner at Water Partner Foundation, is involved in IWRM and Water Diplomacy activities in Central Asia since 1995. His main partners in the region are the Scientific Information Centre (SIC) of the Interstate Commission for Water Coordination (ICWC) in the region. Some key results of the cooperation are the Sudoche Wetlands Restoration Project and the Aral Sea Basin Management Model.

The cooperation started during implementation of the Aral Sea Basin Program 1, with the development of an IWRM master plan for the Amudarya Delta, followed by the design and construction works for the Sudoche Wetlands Restoration Project, financed by World Bank and GEF. The Sudoche project has importantly contributed to restoration of wetland production functions for the region and helped to secure income for local fishermen and pastoralists. In a later stage of the cooperation advanced integrated management models were designed for both the Amudarya Delta in the South and the Syrdarya Delta in the North.

The wetlands restoration projects served as a stepping stone towards the design and implementation of Aral Sea Basin management model (ASBmm). The ASBmm is a detailed integrated river basin management model that links both hydrological and socio-economic models for the whole basin. The model serves to develop future (economic, socio-political, demographic, climate) scenario’s in service of the diplomatic process deciding on allocation and use of water resources between the countries in the region. The development of high quality databases and monitoring systems has enabled production and upgrading of the model over the years.

In the current stage, capacity development and water diplomacy have become key elements of the cooperation, involving SIC-ICWC, IFAS and UNESCO-IHE as key partners. Capacity development involves a wide range of subjects and includes leadership training, international (water) law, hydro- economics and technical science and skills. A good overview of the Aral Sea Basin water management and water diplomacy situation is still found in “Water in Central Asia; past, present future” by V. Dukhovny and J. de Schutter that was published by CRC press in 2011.

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