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ISTC Water Management Seminar 29th – 30th April 2019

The International Science and Technology Centre (ISTC) held the third Scientific Advisory Committee seminar on water management issues of Central Asia in Almaty at the Rahat Palace Hotel on Monday and Tuesday 29th and 30th April.

Forty five people attended including senior expert scientists from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and the Scientific Advisory Committee of ISTC. The seminar was opened by the Executive Director of the ISTC, Mr. David Cleave. The representative of the EU Delegation to Kazakhstan, Mr. Johannes Stenbaek Madsen, the Consul General of Uzbekistan, Mr. Abror Fatkhullaev, and the Director of the Institute of Geography of Kazakhstan, Professor Akmektal Medeu, gave encouraging opening remarks.


The European Union is funding the Phase 1 (proof of concept) of two highly topical projects:

  1. Assessment of water and land resources in small transboundary tributaries of Amu Darya river basin using earth observation
  2. Hydrochemistry of heavy metals in transboundary tributaries of the Syr Daria river basin

These two projects were selected at earlier seminars with the aim of building trusted networks for sharing data in transboundary areas and for the information to be shared with authorities responsible for health, agriculture, the environment, energy and climate change in order to establish transboundary management of water resources to mitigate the risks of conflict in the future.

Project 1 will utilise earth observation satellite data for the assessment of transboundary river flows validated by field observations. The data and information derived will be shared between the countries in a shared database for joint management in the Amu Daria Basin Water Organization. It will be led by Uzbekistan. It is guided by Professor Jean Muylaert of the ISTC SAC with the help of Arno Van Lieshout of the University of Twente in the Netherlands


Project 2 will sample water, soil and sediment from transboundary sites of the Syr Daria River and tributaries and analyse them for heavy metals that may be present from industrial and mining activities for gold, uranium and other metals. Radioactive elements will also be measured. These measurements will be carried out in the laboratories of the four countries. Data and information will be shared between the countries and with health, agriculture and environment authorities. The project will be validated by a quality assurance system and quality control measures. It is guided by Professor Maurice Leroy of the ISTC SAC with the help of Ingrid Verstraeten of the United States Geological Survey.

The two projects will be launched at a kick-off meeting and workshop to be held on July 16th – 17th in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Professor Nigel Lightfoot CBE, member of the ISTC SAC who chaired the seminar said “I am delighted with this outcome, two scientific networks have been formed in Central Asia, scientists from the four countries are working together and will be sharing data and information. Importantly there is encouragement from country authorities and the working atmosphere is positive. Everyone has enjoyed these first steps”.