The Wicked Problem of Dam Governance in Central Asia

Current Trade-Offs, Future Challenges, Prospects for Cooperation


  • Zulfiya Mamatova Wageningen University
  • Dilshod Ibrokhimov Wageningen University
  • Art Dewulf Wageningen University


Central Asia, dams, governance, trade-offs, cooperation, transboundary, water


The opposing interests between riparian states, the geopolitical significance of the region, and
the uncertainty about future developments turn transboundary water governance in Central Asia
into a ‘wicked problem’. The issue of dam construction plays an important role in this discussion,
which revolves around the water-energy-food nexus. In the Aral Sea basin, downstream countries
depend heavily on upstream countries for irrigated agriculture, and are weary of upstream countries’
plans for hydropower development. Considerable challenges lie ahead in terms of climate change,
increasing water demand and geopolitical developments. Despite the wicked governance issue
in Central Asia, there are prospects for future cooperation. This article identifies the prospects.


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How to Cite

Mamatova, Z. ., Ibrokhimov, D. ., & Dewulf, A. . (2016). The Wicked Problem of Dam Governance in Central Asia: Current Trade-Offs, Future Challenges, Prospects for Cooperation. International Journal of Water Governance, 4, 1–10. Retrieved from



Research Article

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