Central Asia Water & Energy Program

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The Central Asia region is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, particularly those related to water scarcity, land degradation and natural disasters (droughts, floods, mudslides). With a growing economy and population, Central Asian countries are increasingly facing competition for water, which is crucial for agriculture absorbing ninety percent of freshwater withdrawals. The transboundary links are particularly important in the region's south, where most river runoff originates in the highlands of Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, while the bulk of water withdrawals occur in irrigated plains of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and southern Kazakhstan.

The need for cooperation on energy and water management is particularly evident in irrigation with its high energy consumption for pumping irrigation water during the vegetation season. At the same time, the rich hydropower resources of upstream countries (Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic) are critical for decarbonization, while water is key for cooling thermal power stations in the fossil fuel rich countries (Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan). 

While each state has sovereignty over the national water endowment, in practice, implementation of water flow volumes and patterns rely on loosely defined Soviet-era regional agreements. Seasonal variations affect welfare and development, as even relatively small shortfalls can have major impacts on irrigated agricultural production, fisheries, and fisher/farmer incomes.

Optimizing reservoir releases for energy production could bring significant economic benefits, including in irrigation but proper compensation mechanisms trusted by all countries are yet to be developed. Improved technical management capacity at the regional and national level and more open sharing of data and information at the regional level could help to address these trade-offs.

Forming Partnerships

The Central Asia Water & Energy Program (CAWEP) is a partnership between the World Bank, the European Union, Switzerland (through SECO) and the United Kingdom that works to improve the enabling environment for regional cooperation on water and energy security in Central Asia under a changing climate. It supports the development of data-driven regional narratives and innovative analytics, builds institutional capacity, fosters investments, and provides a platform for high-level political and technical discourse on water, energy, and climate cooperation in Central Asia.

The Program’s objective is to promote regional cooperation for more resilient and better integrated water and energy management under a changing climate. CAWEP intends to (i) tackle higher-level and more ambitious regional goals on policy dialogue and development of regional institutions, (ii) leverage and coordinate approaches to deliver outcomes on joint water-energy management rather than separate water and energy work, and (iii) integrate climate change as an overarching theme, including both adaptation and mitigation responses in water-energy management.

CAWEP works with and supports governments, national and regional organizations, civil society organizations, and development partners, including other international financial institutions. The Program is anchored in partnerships with governments to ensure that program activities address national priorities. CAWEP cooperates with other development and financing partners to enhance the impact in meeting its objectives and to leverage investments by others.


Annual Progress Reports

Technical Papers

Phase 3

Phase 2

Program Briefs



The CAWEP newsletter is a quarterly bulletin that highlights the news and activities implemented under the program.

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