Transboundary Water Governance and Small Basin Councils in Central Asi

Stefanos Xenarios, Murat Yakubov, Aziza Baubekova, Olzhas Alshagirov, Zhassulan Zhalgas, Eduardo Araral

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Central Asia (CA) hosts some of the world’s most complex and most extensive water management infrastructures allocated in the two major transboundary basins of the Amudarya and Syrdarya Rivers. The upstream countries of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan mainly utilize the rivers for hydropower and irrigation, whereas the downstream countries of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan primarily use them for irrigation purposes. The governance of the two river basins has been contested since Soviet times, and more so after the independence of the CA countries. The scheme of Small Basin Councils (SBCs) has been introduced in the region from 2010 to 2022 to improve local and transboundary water governance at a sub-basin and catchment level. Implementing SBCs in CA is still in the experimental phase, and its contribution to river basin management is insufficiently explored. However, there are indications that SBCs play a significant role in raising awareness of and engagement with local communities and improving local and transboundary governance management and coordination. Most important, SBCs can help resolve critical issues in agricultural water allocation, one of the most contentious issues for transboundary water governance in CA. The basin councils could become significant leverage for improving water governance on national and transboundary systems in CA by actively engaging local communities in management, planning, and administration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOxford Research Encyclopaedia
Publication statusPublished - Oct 19 2022


  • river basin management
  • river basin councils
  • local communities
  • irrigation
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Central asia


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