Crisis of Central Asia During the Soviet Rule


Political, social and economic crisis that emerged in the Central Asia and its effects since the fall of the Soviet Union were complex and multifaceted. The complexity of issues surrounding management of resources in the region required careful analysis. Due to the nature of distribution of resources in these countries, there was the need to ensure interdependency and coexistence in sharing of these resources.

Distribution of water was initially based on the agricultural requirements. As a result of this, a system of canals and pumps was constructed to draw water from the Amu Darya and Syr Drya for discharge into cultivated areas as well as desert areas such as Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Reservoirs were built to save water for use during irrigation and generation of electricity. Examples of power generating stations that were built include Tokogul Hydroelectric Power Station that produces at least 93% of general electricity produced in Kyrgyztan (Brunn, S, Toops, S., & Gilbreath, R 109). In order to make use of water throughout the year, it was collected during non-irrigation period and released downstream to Karzakhstan, Turmenistan and Uzbekistan during irrigation periods. This resulted into low water supply for generation of electricity upstream. As a result, these upstream regions were provided with stable supplies of mineral resources from southern republics. Thus, this mutual sharing in South East Asian region was the sign that the growth of Central Asian region had already began.

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When the Soviet Union collapsed, there was dissolution of central planning and this resulted into the dilapidation of the central projects. This resulted into uncertainty in all aspects of economic, social and political conditions in the independent states. Consequently, a general agreement, regarding allocation of resources, was drafted. This was effected by signing of Almaty Agreement in 1992 to hold the policies of the Soviet Union until a resolution could be reached.

Water and Energy Puzzle in Tajikistan and its Neighbors

Inter-linkages of water and energy in Tajikistan is observed in the use of water as a method of producing electricity that is consequently used to pump water to be used in irrigation and for the personal use of the inhabitants. This results into a strong relationship between water and these forms of energy. The complexity occurs on regional levels as the countries in Central Asia depend on each other for natural resource needs.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tajikistan found itself in a situation where it was necessary to make its own priorities. The country depended on the Almaty Agreement of 1992 to ensure the Soviet Policies were implemented. In addition, a number of organizations were formed so that the management of Aral Basin could be supported. However, the implementation of policies from these organizations was not efficient since every country wanted to gain from the consolidation (Murodbek L 26). There were disagreements regarding water use and allocation of water for the purpose of use. In addition to the disagreements concerning water use, there were disagreements regarding general water use. Some countries were accused of using too much water at the expense of others. Tajikistan was the most vulnerable to these disagreements, as it could not control water flow along Amu Darya for production of electricity. Thus Tajikistan could not put pressure on its downstream neighbors to ensure compliance with water, gas and electricity agreements.

In order to overcome these challenges, Tajikistan intended to strengthen its hydroelectric power generation capacity by the construction of the hydropower stations, thus it wished to reduce dependence on oil and gas as the only sources of energy. On the contrary, there was opposition of the projects construction from downstream neighbor, such as Uzbekistan that demanded a feasible study of the projects to determine if it can be environmentally friendly.

During winter, the country faced shortages of water for generation of electricity. As a result, the central heating system that enabled people get heating, so that winter could not operate. This led to the dependence on the other forms of energy for heating and cooking. Many people depended on gas and other sources of heat, such as firewood and charcoal. Despite these efforts to get energy for sustenance, the energy crisis could not be controlled and a number of consequences that were experienced (Murodbek L 52).

The Way to Solve the Water-Energy Puzzle

In order to find a solution to energy shortages, Tajikistan has considered two options that are focused on ensuring efficient use of hydropower potential. These options apply engineering solutions. The following are the options that are considered by the government of Tajikistan

  • Construction of Roghum HPS

This option is believed to be significant for the satisfaction of the current and future needs of electricity in the country as well as generation of considerable surplus which can be exported at a profit. There have been technical and financial feasibility studies that have been conducted at the time of inception of the Roghum HPS during the time of Soviet Union. The assessment involves the weighing of costs and benefits as well as reaction of countries downstream. However, the process of evaluation of feasibility of the project has not been achieved and the process remains in balance. On the other hand, the government of Tajikistan has put an effort to ensure the project is complete by using its own resources in its construction.

  • Construction of Small-Scale HPS

Furthermore, there is second option that proves neither too controversial nor too costly. These projects have also been scrutinized to weigh the benefits and costs of their use. These small-scale HPS will then be connected to the main grid to contribute to the overall supply for electricity in the country.

Application of this Crisis to Analysis of Nevada in North America Energy Management

This analysis involves a study of municipalities in North America, based on the understanding of the crisis in Central Asia. The methods that were used to manage energy crisis in Central Asia can be used to analyze and manage renewable energy in Nevada in North America. This is said to ensure that clean energy is supplied to residence of this state as well as neighboring states.

The U.S Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) can apply the abovementioned approaches to ensure energy is available to everybody in the region as well as the neighboring states by diversifying the nation’s energy portfolio and by including the use of solar energy, wind and geothermal energies. This results into low dependence on hydroelectric power as a source of energy during winter periods, when there is likelihood that  the levels at the reservoirs and high energy needs for heating will drop. The reduced levels of energy in winter can then be compensated by using these forms of alternative energy.

In order to reach the set standards of producing a total of 25% of the total energy from renewable sources, the use of renewable sources of energy, such as hydroelectric power, should be included by creation of small hydroelectric power stations in various parts of the region along small rivers in a similar manner to the case of Tajikistan in Central Asia. These projects will lead to production of additional energy that is fed to the national grid ( Brunn, S, Toops, S., & Gilbreath, R 250).

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In an effort to supplement energy requirements in winter, there is need to ensure solar projects are constructed. More studies need to be conducted to review priorities of other forms of energy. Projects intended for production of additional energy requirements for the region need to focus on the feasibility of the projects while considering environmental impacts of these projects. The projects should also be determined in terms of costs, as their construction and the level of gain influence the size of the income. Companies that are intended for the 2012 Priority Projects need to demonstrate that they have progressed enough to be able to start environmental examination and public participation in the process as well as the ability to be cleared for end of the year. Furthermore, there is the need for Nevada to develop agreements with the neighboring states to sign up the treaties that will be useful for sharing resources, such as hydroelectricity supply and water use. This may also result in the cooperation in sharing the benefits that result from these operations without any disagreements.

Other renewable energy projects that need to be considered by the authorities in Nevada is to develop other forms of energy, such as wind energy, which is transmitted to the national grid. This provides additional energy that accounts for losses in hydroelectric energy during winter.

In addition, BLM is concerned to analyze the possibility of construction of solar energy, generating plants in Nevada as well as other forms of energy, such as wind and geothermal electricity. The forms of energy can then be directed to areas with high energy potentials and reduced levels of disagreements. There are efforts being made in the areas of Desert Energy Conservation Plan.

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