The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is laying the groundwork for the second phase of the Blue Peace Central Asia (BPCA) regional program, a collaborative initiative aimed at fostering peace, stability, and sustainable development through water cooperation among Central Asian nations.
The Blue Peace Initiative seeks to promote water cooperation across borders, sectors, and generations. Its first phase launched in 2014is scheduled to conclude in September 2024. Switzerland, with its long-standing presence in Central Asia, has been actively supporting the strengthening of integrated water resources management and the expansion of regional water cooperation in recent decades.
Discussions on the second phase of the BPCA project took place during a meeting between Kazakhstan’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Nurzhan Nurzhigitov, Swiss Ambassador to Kazakhstan Salman Bal, and representatives of the BPCA program.
Ambassador Bal highlighted the nearing completion of the BPCA’s first phase and emphasized the ongoing efforts to identify areas for focus in the second phase through consultations with Central Asian countries.
Additionally, a hydrogeological forecasting program involving Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan is being launched in Uzbekistan. This program will enable the tracking and measurement of water flows and water consumption across Central Asia.
BPCA representatives outlined the program’s multifaceted approach, covering:
- Strengthening regional water management institutions within the framework of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) and the World Bank’s Water and Energy Program for Central Asia (CAWEP)
- Engaging experts and facilitating knowledge exchange
- Modernizing and reconstructing transboundary hydraulic structures
- Enhancing staff capacity through training and professional development programs
Nurzhigitov noted Kazakhstan’s upcoming chairmanship of IFAS, effective 1 January 2024. As a chair, Kazakhstan seeks to strengthen cooperation with both Central Asian States and other international organizations and financial institutions.
Kazakhstan intends to implement initiatives aimed at establishing an international water and energy consortium in the region, taking into account the interests of all Central Asian countries.
“Next year we plan to launch the second phase of the project for the preservation of the Small Aral Sea, implemented jointly with the World Bank. Therefore, we want to work together with Blue Peace on issues of interaction between the Central Asian countries in the water and energy sector,” Minister Nurzhigitov stated. ///nCa, 21 November 2023