Central Asia is endowed with water and an abundance of rich and varied energy resources — hydropower, oil, gas, and coal. These resources can support increased agricultural production and have the potential to exceed domestic energy demand to supply export markets.
However, water and energy resources across the region are highly unbalanced and access to them is uneven. In some cases there is a lack of physical infrastructure and the outdated systems that exist are unreliable and inefficient. Some communities cannot meet citizens’ electricity needs during certain times of the year, while others lack adequate water supply.
Hydropower resources are concentrated in the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, the upstream countries of Central Asia’s Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers. Thermal resources are concentrated in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Thus, energy-water linkages are inextricable from perceptions of national security, regional stability and economic growth.
The Central Asia Energy-Water Development Program (CAEWDP) recognizes that strengthened cooperation at the national and regional levels can lead to increased incomes, poverty reduction, sustainable development, shared prosperity, and political stability across the region.
The program is building energy and water security by leveraging the benefits of enhanced cooperation. It aims to strengthen security through partnerships with all five Central Asian countries plus Afghanistan in regional initiatives and with development partners in the context of a changing global environment. CAEWDP delivers substantial technical expertise, analytics, and diagnostics for informed decision making and smart investments.
Water is a vital but disparate resource across the basin. In the summer, both the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya rivers have the potential to provide abundant low-carbon hydropower for the mountainous Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan. Downstream, these rivers are vital arteries for livelihoods — providing water for agriculture and local fisheries, and sustaining environmental ecosystems, human health, and electricity generation across Central Asia.
Central Asia is rich with diverse energy resources, from significant reserves of oil, gas, and coal in the downstream countries of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, to rich but underdeveloped hydropower potential in the upstream countries of Tajikistan and Kyrgyz Republic. The diversity of such a mixed energy system offers an opportunity to meet all countries’ electricity needs on a seasonal basis in the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly manner—taking maximum advantage of abundant low-cost hydropower in the summer, and having the reliability of thermal resources in winter when the cold climate limits hydropower supplies.