Central Asia is the cluster of countries located in the basin of the "Great Aral Sea". It originates from the ancient civilizations of the IV-III millennium B.C. known as "Ariana" and is an important geopolitical centre today, where the USA, Russia, China, EU, Iran and India participate in the regional water game. The Aral Sea Basin has always been a subject of interest to outside powers as a target of travel or political blame. At the same time it was a source of prosperity and a place of work, love, history and strong cultural traditions for almost 100 million people.
At present the Aral Sea Basin is shared by independent states with different interests but at the same time in need of close collaboration for their survival. Much has been written about this region but few writers have discovered the deeper roots of the historical transformations that have caused the present situation of environmental degradation. The extremely arid character of the region is a cause of very sensitive natural and social conditions; a very fragile balance that is easily disturbed by any important impact from the outside or innovations from the inside. Only a thorough analysis of both the positive ambitions of the region and their possible negative consequences can provide the necessary understanding of why important development initiatives of the recent past have always produced the negative consequences as they did.
II. Historical Perspective
III. Russian expansion and Soviet era in Central Asia – a way to growth and failure.
IV. Water for Independent States – apple of discord or axe of collaboration
V. Future Perspectives for Water Availability and Use in the Region
Victor A. Dukhovny (Uzbekistan) has many years of experience with water in Central Asia and is one of the leading specialists in the development of complex water management and irrigation systems. Joop de Schutter (The Netherlands) has dealt with water development projects in the region and was involved with the integrated management schemes for the Amudarya and Syrdarya deltas as part of the regional Aral Sea Basin management model.