Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-644
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-644

  14 Dec 2020

14 Dec 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Water resources management and dynamic changes in water politics in the transboundary river basins of Central Asia

Xuanxuan Wang1,2, Yaning Chen1, Zhi Li1, Gonghuan Fang1, Fei Wang1,2, and Haichao Hao1,2 Xuanxuan Wang et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
  • 2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

Abstract. The growing water crisis in Central Asia (CA) and the complex water politics of the region's transboundary rivers are a hot topic for research, while the dynamic changes of water politics in CA have yet to be studied in depth. Based on the Gini coefficient, water political events and Social Network Analysis, we assess the matching degree between water and socio-economic elements in CA and analyse the dynamics of water politics in transboundary river basins. Results indicate that the uneven matching degree of water and land resources are the preconditions for conflicts, with the average Gini coefficient between water and population, GDP, and cropland measuring 0.19 (completely matched), 0.47 (reasonably matched) and 0.61 (completely mismatched). Moreover, the Gini coefficient between water and cropland increased by 0.07 over the past two decades, indicating a worsening degree. In general, a total of 591 water political events occurred in CA with cooperation accounting for 89 %. Water events have increased slightly (0.08/a) and shown three distinct stages: a stable period (1951–1991), a rapid increase and decline (1991–2000), and a second stable period (2000–2018). Overall, water conflicts mainly occurred in summer and winter, and the Aral Sea Basin experienced the strongest conflicts of the transboundary river basins due to the competitive utilization of the Syr and Amu Darya rivers. The density of water conflictive and cooperative networks in CA increased by 0.18 and 0.36 following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and Uzbekistan has highest degree centrality in conflictive network (6) while Kazakhstan has highest in cooperative network (15), indicating that they have more contact with others. The findings suggest that enhancing states' cooperation and trust and seeking support from international organizations will be helpful to eliminate conflicts and strengthen cooperation in CA.

Xuanxuan Wang et al.

 
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Xuanxuan Wang et al.

Xuanxuan Wang et al.

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Short summary
The growing water crisis in Central Asia and the complex water politics of the region's transboundary rivers are a hot topic for research, while the dynamic changes of water politics in Central Asia have yet to be studied in depth. Based on the Gini coefficient, water political events and Social Network Analysis, we analyse the matching degree between water and socio-economic elements and the dynamics of hydropolitics in transboundary river basins of Central Asia.