Agricultural water management and ecosystem services in the Aral-Syrdarya watershed, Kazakhstan - Searching for novel ways to share water and improve ecosystem services in Kazakhstan
Nestled between the Syr Darya River and the Karatau mountain range, idyllic Turkestan region in South Kazakhstan Province is situated 250 km downstream from the Chardara reservoir. Agricultural land in this region is well-irrigated and mostly used for growing cotton, alfalfa, maize and fruits. Other economic activities in the region include fishing, livestock-raising and tourism, some of which are women-owned enterprises. People in urban areas also rely on the Syr Darya River for business. With many livelihoods dependent on this river, the Kazakhstan portion of the Aral-Syrdarya watershed, an area stretching from the Chardara reservoir to the Aral Sea, faces various challenges. Downstream water users are affected by the high concentration of pesticides, sediments and sewage carried in the river water from upstream areas. Along with this, unsustainable water uses, outdated irrigation systems and riparian forest logging also create a series of difficulties for downstream water users and harm productivity and people’s livelihoods.