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TRANSBOUNDARY RIVER BASIN MANAGEMENT: EXISTING PROBLEMS AND POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS ON AN EXAMPLE OF KURA-ARAKS RIVER BASIN

Congress: 2008
Author(s): Armine Simonyan, Anna Movsisyan
Armine Simonyan, Millennium Challenge Account - Armenia SNCO, 4 Melik-Adamyan str., Yerevan, 0010, Armenia, phone: +375 91 217731; e-mail: armincka@yahoo.com (corresponding co-author) Anna Movsisyan, Division of Water Sciences, UNESCO, 1 rue Miollis, 7

Keyword(s): Keywords: transboundary water resources, water manegement, water sharing, cooperation.
Article: Poster:
AbstractThe Caucasus region is home to transboundary river basins such as the Kura, Araks, Sulaks, Terek, Choroki, Enguri, Kuban, and Rioni. The Kura and Araks Rivers have the largest drainage area and are mostly situated in the South Caucasus. In the Kura-Araks Basin over 40 river segments and tributaries cross international borders and are therefore could be considered as transboundary rivers. The Basin includes two main rivers Kura and Araks. The Kura River contributes 55% of the flow and the Araks River contributes 45% correspondingly. The river system has around 10,000 tributaries and covers five countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Iran. The total basin area of the Kura Araks is about 190,000 km2, and approximately 16 million people live in the basin. Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia gained their independence in 1991 after USSR collapse. During the Soviet era, all three countries were within the USSR and water resources management of the Kura-Araks basin was contingent upon the policy that the USSR was implementing at the time. Currently, the main problems in the Basin include not only those related to the quantity and quality of the water, but also the lack of internal and joint management and monitoring of the river system. These countries also share problems of poverty, political instability bureaucratic and structural issues, involvement of various international organizations, historical biases of the people who live in the region, and more importantly, ongoing ethnic, religious, and cultural conflicts. However, despite these obstacles, the countries recognize that they depend greatly on this river system, whose waters they have to share. Availability of water resources in these three countries is also different. Georgia has an oversupply of water, while Armenia has some shortages based on uneven distribution of water throughout the country and year accompanied with water resources poor management system. Azerbaijan has a lack of water. The main water use in Georgia and Armenia is agriculture, while Azerbaijan uses the Kura-Araks Rivers water primarily as a source of fresh water. In the South Caucasus almost 80% of the wastewater load is discharged into the Kura River and its tributaries. The Kura-Araks river basin is excessively polluted due to discharge of poorly treated or untreated urban and industrial wastewater as well as agricultural runoff. Even though this three countries are willing to cooperate on water-related issues, they still have to solve several political, economic, and social issues. Authors analysed the hyrological, geographical, historical, and political situation, problems and conflicts existing in the region in order to determine the further steps and actions aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of integrated water resources management and promoting cooperation on local, national and regional levels.
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