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the USAID Central Asia’s Regional Water and Vulnerable Environment Activity

Network of Academic Societies Tackles Flood Issues in the Region


The heavy floods and disasters in northwest Kazakhstan (and flooding in other Central Asian countries) prompted the Network of Academic Societies (NAS) to address this issue to discuss what the academic community might contribute in terms of solutions.

The meeting convened on May 17 with NAS members and representatives from other universities and the Community of Practice, initiated by the University of World Economy and Diplomacy (UWED) and hosted by the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC).

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In a wide ranging discussion, the meeting centered around four points that explored the origins and consequences of floods in Central Asia, the measures available to mitigate the impact of floods and reduce vulnerability, and how improved training of water specialists could help alleviate the impact of floods on human communities.

Participants express strong agreement that flooding has intensified in recent years and that a lack of updated water infrastructure and sufficiently trained water sector personnel are exacerbating an already delicate situation with regard to flood control and future potential disasters. They also agreed that an improved early warning system for the countries of Central Asia could significantly help lessen the human loss and economic impact of inundation.

“Discussing with our colleagues from other Central Asian countries such an important topic as floods, we came to the conclusion that there is an urgent need to train qualified specialists,” said Suriya Turayeva, Associate Professor of Environmental Protection and Rational Use of Water Resources at the UWED.

In this regard, USAID Central Asia’s Regional Water and Vulnerable Environment Activity is working to fill these needs by collaborating with NAS universities to update curricula and teaching materials to reflect the latest ideas and innovation in water management. USAID is also cooperating with national governments to provide upgrades and physical assessments at important water facilities in the region (e.g., Tallimarjan reservoir in Uzbekistan).

The meeting was an important step in strengthening cooperation between Central Asian universities and promoting joint scientific and practical initiatives. As well, it demonstrated the effectiveness of NAS as a dialogue platform for universities in the region.

“The importance of academic cooperation in the field of rational use of water resources and environmental protection is an important and necessary initiative, as scientific and academic cooperation will contribute to solving urgent water and environmental issues of regional and international importance, as well as reducing the risk of disasters of natural and man-made origin. This network in Central Asia will strengthen and coordinate the role of science and education in the region,” said Jafar Niyazov, an academic at the Institute of Water Problems, Hydropower and Ecology of the National Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan.

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The effective work of NAS on flood issues is just one example of how the academic community can make a significant contribution to solving urgent problems in the region, combining efforts to achieve common goals of sustainable development and environmental protection.

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