Institutional adaptive capacity as a way towards water security? The case of Kyrgyzstan

Water takes on special importance in Kyrgyzstan. Also known as the «Switzerland of Central Asia», this mountainous country at the very heart of Asia is home to a complex system of rivers, lakes and glaciers, and produces an average volume of water of 2,458 km3, or the 30% of the total water resources of the region. Financial constraints, political volatility, fragentation, and the perceptions are the four barriers to adaptive capacity. An informative poster by Beatrice Mosello.

2012.10_Mosello_Institutional_adaptive_capacity_Kyrgyzstan_posterWater is a constitutive part of Kyrgyz history and traditions. The Soviet era, however, introduced the view that water was something to be marshaled and directed by elaborate engineering to infinitely serve the economic needs of the regime. Problems of water pollution and overconsumption became prominent (see Aral Sea).

With the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, what were previously just interlinkages between parts of the same centrally monitored and organized system, suddenly evolved towards assuming the form of international relations between independent states, where national interests and economic priorities prevailed over concerns for the regional wealth. The Central Asian new independent  republics were left  with the necessity to learn how to allocate their abundant water resources to feed agricultural production, generate electricity, and quench their people’s thirst.

In  the case case of Kyrgyzstan, these requirements had to be coupled with the pressing demands for water coming from downstream neighbours. Hence, water rapidly became a security issue.

Financial constraints, political volatility, fragmentation, and the perceptions are the four barriers to adaptive capacity.


acrobat_icon An informative poster by Beatrice Mosello