The water quality in Kazakhstan is poor, despite the nation’s access to other natural resources. Unsanitary conditions in water supply systems contribute to poor quality, which leads to a rise in illnesses including gastroenteritis and hepatitis.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) adviser Zhanar Sagimbayeva stated, “The population [often] use[s] water which doesn’t meet bacteriological standards. This is related to bad conditions of our water infrastructure. It has a direct effect on the health of the population.”
Furthermore, the situation is worse for those living in rural Kazakhstan. As the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) stated, “Many villagers use surface water and groundwater of poor quality.” However, urban regions in Kazakhstan are also not free from water pollution.
Water availability is unevenly distributed throughout the nation. According to a U.N. report, only three percent of Kazakhstan’s water was available to those living in the central region in 2004.
Even more concerning, is the country’s access to water as a whole. A report by Anatoly Ryabtsev, the Chairman of the Committee on Water Resources in Kazakhstan, wrote that “Kazakhstan is one of the most water-scarce countries on the Eurasian continent.”
It is unsurprising then that approximately half of Kazakhstan’s available water passes through its neighbors, according to the UNDP. Controlling the quality of water would involve regional negotiations in addition to stronger sanitation policies.
Ryabtsev warns that if provisions are not put into effect soon, Kazakhstan will face dire consequences. Not only will disease continue, but the economic and social development of the nation will be hindered.
Fortunately, the government of Kazakhstan has taken initiatives to improve the nation’s water system. Most recently, the Development Strategy of Kazakhstan up to 2030 was finalized. This establishes the government’s commitment to better water quality and conservation.
Assuming the government of Kazakhstan follows through on its strategy, the water quality in Kazakhstan is likely to improve in the near future.
– Gigi DeLorenzo