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The European Union and the World Bank signed an agreement for a new 7 million grant to support water and energy security in Central Asia.
The funding will contribute to the Central Asia Water & Energy Program (CAWEP) implemented by the World Bank, helping the Central Asian countries strengthen their energy and water security through knowledge exchange, analytical work, policy advice, and project preparation.
EU Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Sven-Olov Carlsson stated, As water and energy are inextricably linked in Central Asia, joint management of these vital resources is crucial for the regions sustainable development, poverty reduction and climate resilience. By its contribution to CAWEP, the EU facilitates enhanced regional dialogue and collaboration on energy and water security matters to help the countries improve conditions for sustainable investment and socio-economic development, stated the.
Water is a key driver in the socio-economic development of Central Asian countries. An ever-growing demand for water due to economic development, population growth, urbanization and climate change along with recurrent natural hazards presents significant challenges to the regions economic expansion. If current water management policies and practices persist, water scarcity could lead to a significant slowdown in the regions economic performance. The almost disappearing Aral Sea, resulting dust storms and their catastrophic impact on agricultural lands and human health give a powerful incentive for regionally coordinated development.
The Central Asia region has the most to gain from properly managing water resources under climate change compared to other regions. Our assessments show that of all the worlds regions, the impact of future water consumption patterns has the greatest impact on economic growth in Central Asia, said Lilia Burunciuc, the World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia.
With the right policies and investments, solutions come at a lower price than the economic costs of water challenges. For example, the economic impact of inadequate water supply services in some areas is estimated to cost Kazakhstan $ 200 million more per year that the investments needed for universal access. Inadequate water supply services are estimated to cost Kazakhstan more than $750 million per year. Floods result in an average of 2.25 percent of GDP loss in Kazakhstan every year.
Since its start in 2009, CAWEP has worked to address these issues and had remarkable impact. With its support, new regional projects have been launched to address some critical issues including dam safety, climate change adaptation, weather forecasting, electricity trade, and youth engagement.