Environment and Security

Environment and Security / 45

Conclusions and outlook / Notes


1 The project, based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich and the Swiss Foundation for Peace, analysed more than 40 cases of conflict, about half of which crossed the threshold of violent outcomes (Baechler, 1998, 1999)

11 Official statistics in Kyrgyzstan suggest an unemployment rate of 3% for 2001, while the EIU suggests figures around 7-10%, multilateral agencies even 20%. (EIU, 2001: 13). At the same time, 41% of the Kyrgyzstan’s population is under 17 and will soon be entering the workforce (source: ibidem). Unemployment in Tajikistan is officially reported at 2.3% in 2001 (source: ibid.) while ICG estimates unemployment to be over 30% (ICG, 2003). In Uzbekistan as little as 0.4% of the workforce is registered as unemployed, but according to UNICEF 57.9% of the 15-24 age group are without work. The Institute for Regional Studies in Bishkek reports that in the Uzbek part of the Ferghana valley as many as 35% of all able-bodied people under 25 were unem- ployed in 1999 (FEWER, 2001). Here too 44.3% of the population is under 17 and will soon be entering the labour force, pushing unemployment further up 13 One of the striking findings in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan is the paradoxical situation by which the populations living in productive lowlands such as the Ferghana valley are often the most vulner- able, whereas less productive, mountainous regions are wealthier. This is largely due to cotton, production of which is compulsory for lowland populations but yields a very poor return. In contrast non-cotton farmers in the highlands can grow whatever they want and benefit from the high price of goods in relatively short supply in local markets (due to the prevalence of cotton).In Tajikistan land reform has been very successful in non-cotton areas. In cotton- growing areas it has encountered obstacles 14 Addressing some of these concerns, a GEF-financed project on biodiversity conservation in Western Tien-Shan along the borders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan is implemented through the World Bank 15 During the Soviet era Uzbek and Tajik shepherds used to take their herds to Kyrgyzstan in summer (e.g.: Isfara to Leylek regions). This practice still continues but borders have restricted it. Shep- herds must pay bribes and run the risk of their cattle being stolen when crossing borders. Many now have to stay in their country, putting a strain on the environment (not suitable for pasture), on herds and consequently on shepherds’ living standards. The lack of control over new migratory patterns has also put an additional strain on veterinary controls, increasing the prevalence of animal- transmitted diseases such as brucellosis 16 Internal renewable water resources include the average annual flow of rivers and the recharge of groundwater generated from precipitation occurring within a country’s borders 12 EIU ViewsWire, Kyrgyz Republic: Riot-torn region hopes for stability, 26 May 2003

2 A research team at Toronto University, led by Thomas Homer- Dixon (1999)

3 The presence of seven enclaves located in the Ferghana valley increases the complexity of the border question. Several unsolved questions related to the border delimitation and demarcation pro- cesses are straining the relations between the Central Asian states. The situation has become even more difficult with the increased militarization of the borders in the Ferghana after the 1999 and 2000 military incursions by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) 4 The Organisation of Central Asian Cooperation was created in 1994 under the name of Central Asian Economic Community or CAEC by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Tajikistan joined the organization in 1998, and Russia in 2004 6 The struggle over an official state language is a source of tension in the three countries. Political leaders are trying to establish the primacy of indigenous languages and reduce use of Russian as the region’s lingua franca. Language will be an important factor in the separation of Central Asia into three linguistic regions and can aggravate regional cooperation. Among the countries of the Ferghana valley, Uzbekistan will mainly use its native language with Latin script (introduced in schools in 1996), Tajikistan will be subject to cultural influence from Iran, and Kyrghyzstan will retain the use of the Cyrillic alphabet within a Russian-dominated zone of communication (Appei and Skorsch, 2002) 7 For example closing of the border has fuelled a large illegal economy between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan (smuggling of fuel and cotton from Uzbekistan) 8 Data for Kyrgyzstan: EIU (2001: 28), figures; provided by the Kyrgyz National Statistical Committee. Data for Tajikistan: IMF (2001); for Uzbekistan: EIU (2003: 47) 9 The states of the region have been unable to maintain the previous levels of investment in the social sector, especially in education and health 10 In recent years, Central Asia has experienced outstanding ag- gregate growth rates, among the highest within the CIS community. Yet the region suffers from serious poverty and inequality: up to 60% of the whole population of the Ferghana valley is defined as poor (OCHA 2003, FEWER 2001: 15) 5 The presence of Uighur minorities is a sensitive issue for relations between China and Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

17 In the future this situation may change when looking among others at the local impact of global climate change

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