Book review: Security and Human Right to Water in Central Asia

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The United Nations celebrates the World Water Day on March 22. This day focuses attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. World Water Day is also used to highlight improvements needed in access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities in developing countries.

The last results about the progress on drinking water and sanitation published by the World Health Organization in 2014 have given warning that the Caucasus and Central Asia region is the only one in the world that, according to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), recorded a slight decline in drinking water coverage: around 1 per cent less of its population. The majority of people living in rural areas do not have access to water. The countries with the lowest percentages of access to drinking water are led by Turkmenistan: 68 per cent of its population has no access to potable water, followed by Kazakhstan (65 per cent), Kyrgyzstan (52 per cent), Tajikistan (51 per cent) and Uzbekistan, the country with the best results in this matter, as only 29 per cent of its population have no access to water (although in absolute terms it means more than 5 million people). There are more than 19 million people living in the region without access to drinking water, and approximately 53 per cent of the whole rural population.

In Central Asia the access to human right to water is critical. The causes of crisis are multiple but one of the most important is undoubtedly the lack of cooperation between the Central Asian countries with respect to the water flowing through their rivers, especially over the Amu Darya River. Lack of appropriate and joint water resources management of this river has given rise to numerous conflicts between the riparian countries. Access to water has become a security issue in this region. But how the link between security and water in Central Asia is understood? What are the main sources of conflict with respect to water resources and the violation of the right of access to water of millions of persons? Are the International security organizations (NATO, SCO, CSTO) cooperating to resolve water conflicts and protect the human right to water and sanitation? The new book “Security and Human Right to Water in Central Asia” by Miguel Angel Perez Martin* highlights the importance of water resources in historical, political, economic and social events in Central Asian societies. It analyzes the current risks and threats arising from a mismanagement of water resources in Central Asia (Amu Darya basin) through the different dimensions of human security (environmental, economic, social and political) and its impact on the human right to water and sanitation. But the most outstanding feature of this book is to introduce, within the field of security, the human right to water and sanitation as one possible of the central pillars of international peace and security in Central Asia. It identifies the various actors involved in water issues and their relations in terms of conflicts, paying particular attention to multilateral security organizations (NATO, SCO, CSTO). And it investigates whether international security organizations and security policies have been effective in addressing water conflicts in the region.

* Miguel Angel Perez Martin is coordinator of the Observatory of Human right to water. He is also a specialist in water resources and Eurasian studies. He has worked in Iran, UK, Germany, and Kazakhstan as researcher and teacher

Sergey Kwan

TCA