September 29, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan – The United States today celebrated five years of achievements in increased regional cooperation and constructive dialogue on shared water resources at the USAID-funded Smart Waters program closing ceremony.
The Smart Waters program increased cooperation within Central Asia and Afghanistan on shared water resources. Over the past five years, Smart Waters established 13 Small Basin Councils at 8 small transboundary watersheds in 5 Central Asian countries and Afghanistan to collectively resolve water management issues. The Councils consist of local experts in fields such as conservation and irrigation, as well as local government and community water users. Together they address issues and find the best solutions for water management at their transboundary rivers. For example, there are two Small Basin Councils at the Aspara and Kurkureu rivers between Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic.
In remarks during the closing ceremony, U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan William Moser emphasized the accomplishments of Smart Waters in creating a cadre of water management professionals and introducing the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management to the region. “Over 2,800 water experts from the region have gained valuable water diplomacy skills, water-saving technologies, and the benefits of increased cooperation by participating in events hosted by Smart Waters. In fact, 36 students from the region are now graduating from the Kazakh-German University with master’s degrees in Integrated Water Resources Management.”
The event was an opportunity for beneficiaries of the program to highlight the success of their work and discuss ways to continue cooperation after the end of the Smart Waters program.
The United States has worked with Kazakhstan and the region, including Afghanistan, to identify and respond to water management issues for over a decade. In partnership with the governments of Central Asia, the United States government will continue to strengthen regional cooperation on shared water resources. Beginning on October 1, 2020, the new USAID Water and Vulnerable Environments program will address current and emerging environmental challenges to promote stability, economic prosperity, and healthy ecosystems in Central Asia.
USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. For more information about Smart Waters, visit: https://www.usaid.gov/central-asia-regional/fact-sheets/smart-waters. For more information on USAID/Central Asia visit: https://www.usaid.gov/central-asia-regional.