NeWATER - New Approaches to Adaptive Water Management under Uncertainty


Governance, Institutions, Participation, Uzbekistan




ZEF contributes to the NeWater project through the Natural Resources and Social Dynamics research group in ZEF´s department of Political and Cultural Change. The ZEF research will assess the existing water resources governance structures in Uzbekistan and find out how these structures can be changed into an institutional arrangement that is clearly targeted at adaptive management. It will contribute to the NeWater Project objectives number 2, 4 and 6. The ZEF will conduct the main research at the level of water policy and water governance in the Uzbekistan part of the Amu Darya basin. The research will first map the existing organisations of water management and water policy in Uzbekistan, which will be completed by October 2005. After that the research will focus on the dynamics of decision-making within the water institutions, from a politics of policy perspective. That is, the research will grasp the dynamics of water sector reform and decision-making at the national level.

Overview of ZEF research to be undertaken
The NeWater project in Uzbekistan is a comprehensive study of Uzbekistan's water management institutions and the water sector's reform processes and the changes are taking place and have taken place in the water sector since the republic's independence. This work is thus far the first attempt to study systematically, the policy processes, stakeholders involvement and implementation activities as well as the institutional constraints and opportunities for adaptive water management under uncertainty. The aim is to trace the main direction and developments towards the restructuring of water management in Uzbekistan and develop new approaches towards the restructuring of water governance.

The study is therefore, planned to be carried out in three stages:

Stage One is an introduction which will give an overview account of water resources, water management institutions and irrigation in Uzbekistan throughout the history. This will include pre Russian, Russian and Soviet times, but the post-Soviet era will be emphasized. It will also give an introduction to the water politics of Uzbekistan. This section will also investigate the water resources bureaucracy, i.e. listing the formal and informal institutions dealing and/or involved with the water management in Uzbekistan today, and their ability to cope with the extreme events, such as droughts.

Stage Two examines the Uzbek water resources management policy processes and participation. So this stage is the study of Uzbek water sector policy and policy processes. It will provide and understanding on how water policies are formulated in Uzbekistan, what are the prerequisites for participation in the decision making and see whether they serve the overall objectives of the consumers. It will identify possible donors and stakeholders in the sector and study how different actors have influenced the policy making within the historical and institutional context and will seek to analyse how democratic is the decision making in the Uzbek water sector.

Stage Three will look at water sector performance, reform processes and the on-going developments in the Uzbekistan. This will also include studying the existing structures; the efforts towards good governance and the ways changing old static management system into an institutional arrangement that will clearly be targeted at adaptive water management in Uzbekistan and investigate what the main challenges are. Both the major components of water institution and water sector performance will also be conceptually decomposed to define the analytical institutional inter-linkages and institution-performance linkages.

Since its independence Uzbekistan has continued to rely on the state-guided leading style of the government; maintain the command economy with subsidies, control of production and prices and public sector dominating agriculture, though there have been huge efforts to convince the Uzbek officials that there is a better way of governance, but it has not so far materialised.

International organizations working in Uzbekistan, and its donors have to a large extent conditionalised their aid; IMF and its sister organisations continually insisted that Uzbekistan carry out reforms, requiring new policies, in order to allow more participation and to decentralise the power to local level. They have demanded for more privatization and liberalisation.

These reforms have been carried out under the supervision of the international donors and their aid has been used to finance the policy.

But the evidences from the region suggest that if Uzbekistan has actually not given a lip service to the advice and suggestions given/made available to the authorities, then they have surely shown enormous degree of resistance to all the suggestions and demands from the major international organizations.

This leads us to the main problem: why has Uzbekistan resisted so much to the ideas of 'good-governance' and change? What went wrong with work of the international organisations and their negotiation processes with the Uzbek officials? Why has it become so difficult to work with Uzbek officials? Who are the main decision making actors in the Uzbek policy-making?

To find the answers to these questions and all the issues discussed above is the primary concern of this study.

The issues in questions will obviously be examined in large from the Uzbek water sector resources and management policy point of view.

Today, it is still not clear enough how the policy making process in the Uzbek water sector proceeds and what rule (s) they follow. We need to know more about who all take part in the decision making process, who are the main instigators and who the excluders are and what kind of role the government plays in the process. We also need more information on the structural dynamics of the water sector to be able to engage more effectively with or explain the policy process to establish more constructive engagement with the interest groups concerned, and explain or define the main actors.

This research aims to provide a better understanding of how policies are formulated within the Uzbek water resources management; what the prerequisites are for participation in the decision making and see whether they serve overall objectives of the country and the water sector. Examine the policy process to find ways on how donors can be engaged in the policy-making in developing countries without endangering the ownership of the policies from the people, but to develop tools which can guarantee the participation in the policy making process of all the groups affected by the policy.

The study also aims to make a realistic assessment of the policies, provide information on the Uzbek water sector and water resources management for the public debate and for the donors on the desired content of the policies and to allow us to learn from the on-going developments in the sector and seek for the opportunities/possibilities towards a more adaptive water management system.

We hope that this study will offer a diversity of information for all those who participate and/or initiate policy-making in developing countries and becomes useful for the Uzbek authorities working in the water sector. It will also provide source materials for further study for those with a special interest in this field and for social scientists in general, specializing in the post-Soviet developments; and will contribute towards acquiring knowledge of the specifics of the culture-change-tradition-modernity and modernization of the Central Asia.

Main Cooperation Partners

  • USF (University of Osnabrück, Institute of Environmental Systems Research), Osnabrück, Germany;
  • Alterra (Wageningen University and Research Centre), Wageningen, The Netherlands;
  • AMII (Taskent Agricultural Mechanisation and Irrigation Institute), Taskent, Uzbekistan;
  • IIASA (International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis), Laxenburg, Austria;
  • SEI-Y (Stockholm Environmental Institute), York, United Kingdom
  • MPISA (Max Planck Institute for Social Antropology), Halle/Saale, Germany;
  • UFZ (Centre for Environmental Research), Leipzig, Germany;
  • Ecologic (Institute for International and European Environmental Policy), Berlin, Germany
Duration of the Project

January 2005 - January 2007

Project Homepage

  • Dr. Peter Mollinga
  • Dr. Resul Yalcin


Peter Mollinga

Prof. Dr. Peter Mollinga


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