USAID-funded Smart Waters Inauguration Event
Monday, April 17, 2017
Windham Hotel, Tashkent
Good morning! Ассалом Алейкум! Доброе Утро!
Mr. Abdullaev, distinguished guests,
I have been told that there is an Uzbek proverb that says “Ер – хазина, сув – гавҳар.” More or less in English, it means something that was said by Sylvia A. Earle who is a National Geographic explorer. She said: “There’s plenty of water in the universe without life, but nowhere is there life without water”. And I believe this encapsulates the efforts that are coming together today.
I would like to thank Dr. Abdullaev for being the moderator of the session today. I also thank the vice speaker for his presence and the representative from the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources. We are very, very happy for the continuous support from the Ministry and the collaboration with the U.S. Government in the areas of water management and agriculture.
I am particularly glad to be here with Ambassador Eduards Stiprais, who is the head of the European Union Delegation to Uzbekistan, and I would like to sincerely congratulate him and his team for starting two new water projects in Uzbekistan, and I believe that our initiatives will harmonize and lead to more sustainable water management in Uzbekistan.
Thank you all who have come today to support the inauguration of this very important project that I hope will help to secure water resources in Central Asia for generations to come. I am told by my staff that we have some of the greatest brain trust here when it comes to the management of water in Uzbekistan and in Central Asia, so I am very honored to be here with you.
On March 22, just a few weeks ago, people all over the world celebrated World Water Day. Every year, this day focuses attention on the vital and life-sustaining role that water plays in the lives of all of us and it focuses on the importance of universal access to clean water. Adequate access to water keeps people alive, as we all know, it sustains and creates jobs, it improves economies and it does so much more.
But water is not a secure resource. Some forecasts — and I am sure I am preaching to the choir here — some forecasts predict that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population could be living in water stressed conditions, and Central Asia is no exception, and you all know this.
Uzbekistan, for example, draws about 80% of its water resources from water that flows across international boundaries to sustain its agricultural production. However, the runoff from the country’s two most important river basins is projected to decline by 10% for the Syr Darya River and by 15% for the Amu Darya River by 2050.
Today, we are inaugurating a new five-year water management project, called “Smart Waters,” which is designed to support the sustainable management of precious regional water resources.
The implementer for the United States is the U.S. Agency for International Development, and this program is focused on improving water management training systems and enhancing networking opportunities for professionals, academic researchers, and policy makers in the Aral Sea basin.
To implement this project in Uzbekistan, we will be joining forces with others, specifically with the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, as we have mentioned. And I would like to thank you very much for your partnership and wish you every success.
I would also like to mention that in addition to Smart Waters, the United States is supporting another water-related partnership in Uzbekistan. Our Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research, or PEER, brings together scientists from the United States and Uzbekistan to research challenges related to water quality in the Amu Darya basin.
It is through partnerships like Smart Waters and PEER, and others, such as the European Union project, that we bring together the best researchers, policy makers, professionals to solve challenges that seem intractable, but we can, working together, make progress. And in this case, I am confident that together we will improve the management of water resources and assure the continued availability of water for the millions of people of Central Asia.
As I close, I would like to wish you productive sessions today, urge a lot of sharing as you go back to your home organizations and much success as you implement this project.
Thank you. Катта рахмат. Спасибо.