Conflicts on Irrigation Water in the South of the Kyrgyz Republic

Speeches Shim

Water is a vital resource given the Kyrgyz Republic‟s dry climate, which is used not only for production, but also for livelihoods and many other purposes, making dependency of rural population on it even stronger. In the case of irrigation water, the predicament arises from competition to use more of a scarce resource. The growing competition over access to irrigation water has been fueling conflicts in many rural areas. Seasonal water scarcity during agricultural season from April to September is especially acute in the south of the country, where due to limited areas of arable land, high population density, lack of off-farm employment possibilities, the majority of farms are smallholding farmers, with tiny plots of approximately 0.2 ha per household.

ACTED, the implementing partner for the Conflict Mitigation through Targeted Analysis and Community Action (COMTACA) Project funded by the USAID, in its aim to directly support local communities and the Government in its will to identify vectors of conflicts, dispute mechanism and peace building activities contracted RDF to undertake multiple actions. It explored the origins and drivers of conflicts around irrigation water, as well identified courses of action for government, civil society, or community leaders to relieve or resolve existing or emerging disputes over access to and use of irrigation water in the South of Kyrgyz Republic. The research employed various qualitative methods, such as desk review of major legal and background information, focus group discussions, expert interviews, and in-depth interviews of major stakeholders.

The types of conflict that arise stem from the perception of actors that their ability to derive benefit from the resource of irrigation water is constrained. Perceptions of constraint in accessing water in turn are related to expectations of parties regarding their access. Thereby, conflicts are amongst the actors involved with the use of irrigation water: Rayon Departments of Water Resources (RDWR), WUA management and WUA staff (murabs), individual users, and groups of users. One can classify user groups into several types according to demonstrated commonality of interests in accessing water: upstream communities; downstream communities; state border communities; ordinary people in their communities; and to some degree ethnic groups.

Issuing Country 
Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 1:45am