Today, the Central Asia Regional Water Supply and Sanitation Conference convened participants from the five countries of the region in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to discuss best practices for building climate-resistant water supply and sanitation services.
The two-day event, titled Towards Regional Initiatives for Sustainable and Climate Resilient Water Supply and Sanitation Services in Central Asia, was organized jointly by Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Housing and Communal Services and the World Bank, with funding from the Central Asia Water and Energy Program (CAWEP) and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).
The event brings together around 100 participants, including utility directors, key policy and decision-makers, academia, and the private sector from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Water supply and sanitation (WSS) services are expected to become increasingly susceptible to the expected impacts of climate change. These impacts can materialize in the form of more frequent and severe extreme events, including floods and droughts; different rainfall patterns and temperatures; and seasonal shifts.
“Water and sanitation systems don’t just improve health and save lives, they are also a critical part of building stable and prosperous economies in Central Asia. Collectively addressing water and sanitation challenges should be one of our top priorities in the region,” said Lilia Burunciuc, World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia. “The conference in Tashkent can be viewed as a new platform for interaction among regional water supply and sanitation professionals. The World Bank, along with other development partners, is glad to support the renewed regional water dialogue,” added Ms. Burunciuc.
“Providing access to sustainable safe drinking water supply and sanitation services is one of the top development goals for the governments across Central Asia. Uzbekistan has also reiterated in its social and economic development programs and reform agenda that these services are crucial for improving living standards, especially in rural areas. We are committed to fully implement the above-mentioned programs to achieve this important goal,” noted Muzaffar Saliev, Minister of Housing and Communal Services of Uzbekistan. “The conference in Tashkent will help promote and foster regional cooperation in the field of water supply and sanitation services and build a strong network with our colleagues and partners across Central Asia.”
During the conference, stakeholders from participating countries will analyze how climate change affects water security and WSS services in Central Asia, learn how to assess, plan and build resilient WSS services that can withstand climate change, and consider prospects for deepening regional cooperation on water management and water quality.
The event participants will also discuss WSS sector reforms in their states and ways to improve its performance, the delivery and management of WSS services in rural areas, lessons from private sector participation in WSS service delivery, and opportunities for national capacity building for WSS.
Experts from Bulgaria, Portugal, South Africa and Israel, as well as from the World Bank Group, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Secretariat for Water and International Association of Water Supply Companies in the Danube River Catchment Area will share international best practices in the above-mentioned areas that may be applied in the Central Asian context.
The event participants will develop follow-up activities to support a longer-term initiative to enhance collaboration between Central Asian WSS sector policymakers and utilities, as well as to address common challenges and opportunities in the region in this field.