LOW resolution shutterstock 1464450467 Fields aroun Panj river Gorno Badakhshan Tajikistan and Afghanistan border Wakhan corridor Daniel Prudek

Nexus Regional Dialogue in Central Asia

The Central Asia Nexus Dialogue Project: Fostering Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus and Multi-Sector Investment

Project Details

  • EN V Funded by the EU POS
  • Carec logo
  • Implementing organisation:

    Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC)

  • Collaborating partners:

    National ministries, experts, the local authorities of Central Asian countries, the Central Asian Academic Network, and International Financial Institutions (IFIs)

  • Implementation period:

    June 2020 - May 2023

  • Beneficiary countries:

    Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

  • Funding by:

    European Union (EU)

Key Publications

Phase II project information

Project Information // Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme Central Asia Phase II

Proposed small scale demonstration projects

Proposed small scale demonstration projects

Kazakhstan national demo project

Kazakhstan national demonstration project on afforestation of the dried bottom of the Aral Sea

Demo project

National Demonstration Project in Tajikistan


Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan: Transboundary demonstration project

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Central Asia Nexus Dialogue Project: Fostering Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus and Multi-Sector Investment (Phase II)

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Roll-up on Nexus Regional Dialogue in Central Asia (Phase II)


Nexus Approach Illustration Book (RU only)

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Publication // Forecast of sedimentation growth and losses due to sedimentation in monetary value at the Ruslovoye reservoir with recommendations on possible technical solutions, 2022

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Publication // Assessment of risks and vulnerability to climate change at the local level, Tuyamuyun hydro complex, 2021

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Report // Identification of the volume of sedimentation at the Ruslovoye reservoir of the Tuyamuyun hydro complex 2021

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Publication // First outcomes of the review and rapid assessment on implementation of the transboundary demonstration project at the Tuyamuyun Hydroelectric Complex (THC)

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Publication // Recommendations on technical solutions for the sediment treatment and recycling at the Ruslovoe reservoir, based on international experience

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Publication // Cost and benefit analysis on sediment removal and recycling at the Ruslovoye reservoir

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Publication // Socio-economic assessment, state of irrigated agriculture and operation of pumping stations in Sughd province and Zafarobod district of Tajikistan

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Publication // Central Asia Nexus Dialogue Project: Fostering Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus and Multi-Sector Investment (PHASE II)

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Publication // Interactive Simulation of Nexus approach for water-energy-food-environment security at national and regional levels

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Implementation of the Nexus demo projects in Central Asia and the tasks performed, 2023


NRD Central Asia Phase II Factsheet EN


NRD Central Asia Phase II Factsheet RU

News from Central Asia

Regional Context

Water is at the heart of resource security in Central Asia

Water management is an ongoing challenge for the five countries of the Central Asian region, where food production depends on limited water sources(in a shared watershed). Agriculture accounts for 90% of freshwater usage, bringing it into competition with hydroppower needs, while population growth and urbanization increase demand for both electricity and food. Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are increasingly recognizing that the future of water, energy, and food security lies in intersectoral and transboundary solutions. The Central Asia Nexus Dialogue Project has been working since 2016 at institutionalizing the WEF Nexus. In its second phase the project will showcase the added value of WEF Nexus through demonstration projects, capacity building and the identification of financing opportunities. 

Shutterstock 2030083130 Issyk Damm Kasachstan Panikhin Sergey
Issyk-Damm in Kazakhstan. Shutterstock / Panikhin Sergey

Climate change directly affects the reduction of water resources, which in turn can lead to a reduction in the food supply and degradation of pastures”

— Batyr Kurbanov, the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC), project consultant

Central Asia encompasses five countries that stretch from the Caspian Sea to Siberian forests and Afghani mountain passes. The landscape is diverse, with vast areas of desert in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, mountains in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and grassy Eurasian steppes throughout the north of Kazakhstan. The waters of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers originate from seasonal glacier melting in the eastern mountains and cross country lines as they flow into the former Aral Sea.

Why are WEF Nexus Solutions Needed?

  • 90%

    Approximately 90% of freshwater is used for agriculture

  • 20-35%

    Key rivers that provide drinking and irrigation water will have 20-35% less water in downstream countries by 2050

  • 50%

    Almost half of the electricity in the region is generated by hydropower

  • By 2100

    By 2100, mountian glaciers which deliver water to major rivers could decrease by 80%

  • By 2025

    By 2025, hydropower is expected to overtake gas as the main fuel source for energy production in Central Asia

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Water and Agriculture

Rainfall is minimal in Central Asia’s arid and semi-arid climate, so water from key rivers is necessary to meet agricultural demands in all five countries. Unfortunately, climate change will further stress already limited water sources. The basins of two major rivers, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, hold nearly 80% of the region’s population and are fed primarily by melting glaciers. The intensifying frequency of heat waves, droughts and glacier melt in mountain regions threaten crop yields, livelihoods and ecosystems. Estimates suggest these two rivers will have 10 to 30% less water available by 2050. Downstream, the Aral Sea has already dried up from intensive irrigation practices, underscoring that the future of food security cannot be uncoupled from effective and sustainable water management.

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Water and Energy

Previous resource sharing of energy and water sources in the region dissolved alongside the Soviet Union, and countries have since managed resources more independently. This has created contestation over the hydropower potential of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, a situation that will likely worsen as effects of climate change intensify.

Significant fossil fuel reserves in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan provide much of their electricity needs, but Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan rely on hydropower for 90% of their electricity. Construction of large hydropower dams in these upstream countries have the potential to disrupt the water flows of downstream countries. Population growth, climate change and urbanization trends will only increase pressure on these river basins.

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Energy and Agriculture

Agricultures sustains the economic livelihoods of around one quarter of employed people in the Central Asia, but minimal rainfall means irrigation must come from rivers that are also increasingly being used as energy sources. New hydroelectric dams constructed on the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers could disrupt flows to downstream regions that rely on their waters to irrigate crops, sustain livestock and support socioeconomic development.


A strong foundation for future development

The Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC) in partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with support from the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS), implemented the Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme activities in the first phase of the project (2016-2019). 

When this project began in 2016, WEF Nexus was new and needed to be recognized and endorsed by regional institutions. Awareness and a supportive enabling environment is necessary to develop and implement concrete development projects. In its first phase the Central Asia Nexus Dialogue Project achieved these goals through the following outcomes: 

  • Inter-sectoral working groups

    Established inter-sectoral working groups to raise WEF Nexus awareness and biuld the skills of key stakeholders who will drive the application of the Nexus forward.

  • 40 dialogue events

    Increased WEF Nexus understanding in the region through 40 dialogue events. 

  • Small-scale Nexus pilot project

    Constructed small-scale Nexus pilot projects in 4 countries.

  • Integration of WEF Nexus into regional programmes

    Integrated the WEF Nexus into major regional programmes, ensuring that Nexus thinking and specific projects are at the forefront of long-term planning in Central Asia. 

  • Publications

    Published factsheet, studies and recommendations on WEF Nexus in the region.

  • Nexus project proposals for investment in Phase II

    Endorsed Nexus project proposals for investment in Phase II with the support of intersectoral and cross-regional dialogues.

Key Activities

Kicking the Nexus approach into high gear

Building on the successes of the first phase, Phase II of the Central Asia Nexus Dialogue project will focus on the practical application of the Nexus approach.

The main objectives include:

  • Joint implementation of national and transboundary demonstration projects based on the WEF Nexus approach.
  • Identification of suitable funding mechanisms for such projects.
  • Implementation of demonstration projects will facilitate institutional and socio-economic assessments, simulation analysis (cost-benefit or trade off) and technical solutions.
  • Strengthening the competence of experts in the practical application of the WEF Nexus approach in planning and investment decisions to ensure sustainable development and enhanced water, energy and food security in Central Asia.
  • Further institutionalising the Nexus approach in national and regional governance structures and investment decisions.

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