|Abstract or Summary
- The conflict over water resources exploitation and sharing in the Aral Sea Basin is one of the most pressing environmental issues yet to be resolved in Central Asia. The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and establishment of the New Independent States (NIS) within the Aral Sea Bain led to conflicting interests vested in water resources with no mediator to solve these water issues. Presently, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya upstream states of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan desire to employ water resources for hydropower; while downstream Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan wish to continue practicing irrigated agriculture. This scarce and over-allocated resource, facing the needs of a growing population and climate change uncertainties, should be managed collaboratively and sustainably to be able to meet and withstand the upcoming challenges. This dissertation examines water management practices in the face of government regime change both in large and small river basins within Central Asia by analyzing international water agreements, correspondence between water managers, official reports, maps, and other archival documents. The analysis shows the inter-republican dynamics in water sector starting from 1950s up to early 2000s. The analysis of water relations within the Syr Darya Basin shows that there are different approaches to the change in political regime in both large and small basins. The results reveal that conflict over water resources in Central Asia existed long before the fall of the Soviet Union both in the large Syr Darya Basin, as well as within its small tributaries. The Soviet planned economy, along with the basin planning framework, set competition for water between the riparian states. Analysis of the infrastructure construction negotiations in these small shared tributaries showed that the former Soviet Republics used non-cooperative negotiation strategies to outcompete their rivals. This dissertation calls for regional cooperation in water management as it is shown that hydro-political competition in the basin may lead only to short term benefits, on the long run however, it is proven lead to heavy economic, social, political, and environmental costs.