Reviews

See also by the same author: “L’eau en Asie Centrale: entre interdependence régionale et vulnérabilités nationales [The Water Issue in Central Asia: The Relationship between Regional Interdependence and National Vulnerabilities],” Géoéconomie 18 (2001): 119-44.  These two articles shed light on the strong relations of interdependence of the Central Asian states.  As the author demonstrates, although water is relatively abundant at regional level, its distribution is particularly unequal since Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan possess more than 80 percent of it.  Soviet planning and the massive utilisation of water for irrigating agricultural lands have exacerbated this disparity and increased the level of water consumption per capita:  In Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan the level of water consumption is one of the highest in the world (close to 6000m³ per person per year), but more than 90 percent of it goes into agriculture.  Attempting to resolve this difficult situation, the Soviet authorities organised a regional system for regulating and sharing resources between the republics.  However, the accession to independence quickly put paid to this system.  Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have asserted that they are favourable to financial or material compensation in exchange for water, whereas the three downstream countries (with certain qualifications in the case of Kazakhstan) consider water a common good.  In the 1990s, acts of blackmail (water for energy) and of retaliation (cuts in deliveries of water or energy) multiplied, despite the existence of several international programmes and initiatives.  In addition, the Aral Sea catastrophe has rendered acute the necessity to manage water resources properly, although the systems of payment for consumption by local farmers are difficult to set up.  G. Raballand here succeeds in analysing this issue with finesse and in presenting a subtle panorama of the complex stakes involved.

Sébastien Peyrouse, Woodrow Wilson Centre, Washington, DC
CER: I-2.4-146