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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER)
Cycle 4 (2015 Deadline)

Transboundary water management adaptation in the Amudarya basin to climate change uncertainties

PI: Viktor Dukhovniy (, Scientific-Information Center of the Interstate Commission for Water Coordination (ICWC) of Central Asia; with co-PIs Guljamal Nurmuhammedova, Ynanch-Vepa Analytical Agency; and Alisher Nazariy, Amudarya Basin Water Organization
U.S. Partner: Benjamin F. Zaitchik, The Johns Hopkins University
Project Dates: November 2015 - April 2018

Project Overview

The goal of this project is to build adaptive capacity of the countries sharing the Amudarya basin to manage effectively their transboundary waters under climate change and other uncertainties. The Uzbekistan- and Turkmenistan-based members of this collaborative group will study transboundary water management issues in the Amudarya basin over the long term under conditions of climatic and other changes, along with national plans regarding irrigated agriculture and hydropower development. Some specific areas to be addressed include the following:

  • Assess possible changes in the hydrologic regime and future crop water requirements due to climate change;
  • Study scenarios for long-term flow regulation by a system of large reservoirs on the hydrology of rivers, as well as on available water supply for irrigated lands and sustainability of aquatic ecosystems in the basin;
  • Evaluate the potential impact of national plans for irrigated agriculture and hydropower development on future crop water requirements in the basin’s countries;
  • Elaborate possible tradeoffs between national priorities and requirements at the basin level on the basis of legal analysis, with the focus on global water conventions.

The main outcomes of the project should include scientifically grounded recommendations for various stakeholders (policy makers, macroeconomists, environmentalists, hydropower managers, and agriculture specialists) on a number of relevant topics. These would include trade offs in water management in the basin, economically sound development options, regionally sound cropping patterns based on national food and energy security strategies and water conservation needs, environmental management in deltas, and alternative options for multiyear river flow regulation. The U.S. Government-supported partner will play an advisory role and support the research team by hosting exchanges, offering advice on models and data, and participating in workshops.

Final Summary of Recent Activities

These PEER researchers studied water management problems within the basin and sought to improve the Aral Sea Basin management model. They used their own planning zone model to assess the river basin’s future development through 2055, including climate change’s impact on water requirements and available water resources, agricultural development, alternative hydropower scheme operations and growing water withdrawal by Afghanistan. The researchers developed recommendations for adaptation to climate change, and management of transboundary water resources, among others.

The project improved the understanding and awareness of the impact of climate change on water availability and management in the Amu Darya. A wealth of new data and research was generated to help stakeholders be better prepared for climate change impacts by showcasing options for more sustainable water management, both adapting to negative impacts and harvesting positive impacts of climate change in the basin. The project contributed to strengthening regional cooperation by improving the knowledge base and enabling more active interactions between researchers and policy makers across Central Asian countries.

The researchers used the basin planning zone model and a variety of numerical experiments to produce a comprehensive assessment of future basin development through 2055. The team member who developed the model visited Johns Hopkins University to demonstrate their work. The major results of the PEER project were presented at the Central Asian International Scientific-Practical Conference held in Taskent in 2017, and at the world’s biggest water-related event, the 8th World Water Forum in Brasilia. While there, team members visited the IItaipu Dam to study a successful experience of benefit sharing across countries and draw lessons for the Amu Darya.

During the final PEER project workshop, the team discussed results with key stakeholders, as well as follow-ups to the project and further cooperation with partners and donors. The project results were uploaded on a public website in the form of reports, publications, and presentations. The team prepared a number of policy briefs for decision makers, including on future development in the basin, quick responses to climate changes, improved coordination between the countries on water resources, and tackling water accounting and water management for the river and its tributaries.

The PI Dr. Dukhovnyi also published a book, The Future of the Amu Darya Basin in the Context of Climate Change, which assesses climate change’s impact on water resources and crop requirements in the basin through 2050. The findings have been already included and will be included in future training curricula developed by the Regional Training Centre at the PI’s organization. They also formed the basis of a short video presentation for a distance-learning course based at the University of Geneva and are being developed into a new educational module at the SIC ICWC Regional Training Center that serves five Central Asian countries. During the grant period, PEER team members also expanded and solidified their professional networks by reconnecting with collaborators at the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes.


V.A. Dukhovnyi, ed. 2018. The Future of the Amu Darya Basin in the Context of Climate Change. Scientific-Information Center of the Interstate Commission for Water Coordination (ICWC) of Central Asia, Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Available for download (PDF, 13.8 MB) at

V.A. Dukhovniy, D.R. Ziganshina, A.G. Sorokin. 2017. Amudarya - the great river on the threshold of signature decisions. Proceedings of the International Water and Climate Summit, October 23-25, 2017, Rome, Italy.

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