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'Downstream' Countries Agree To Share Water Costs With Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan

DUSHANBE -- Tajik Water Resources Minister Said Yoqubzod has said that for the first time downstream countries of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan have agreed to share the costs of strengthening riverbanks and managing rivers that originate in the upstream countries of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

According to RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Yoqubzod said the agreement was made at a regional water distribution conference in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, sponsored by the UN's Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia.

The decision means the three downstream countries agree to help pay for dams and reinforce riverbanks in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan that break down in the spring and allow much-needed water to be lost.

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan control some 60 percent of the region's water resources.

But Tajik officials say Uzbekistan consumes 60 percent of the water from the Syr Darya River. An estimated 32 percent of the water from the Syr Darya is consumed by Kazakhstan, 7 percent by Tajikistan, and only 1 percent by Kyrgyzstan.

Tajik officials added that Tajikistan consumes only 15 percent of the water from the other major transborder river, the Amu Darya. The rest of it is divided between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.