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BISHKEK, March 26 (TCA) — Experts from Kyrgyzstan’s ministries, donors, and NGOs recently gathered together to discuss the state’s water supply and sanitation policy.

Despite the fact that Kyrgyzstan has the greatest water resources, the lack of drinking water is becoming more apparent due to a steady increase in water consumption.
According to official data, 1,259 villages in Kyrgyzstan do not have adequate access to clean drinking water, and 397 villages have no access at all. Approximately 21 billion soms (approximately $440 million) is required for the construction of water supply systems.

According to the National Statistics Committee, there are 1,891 communities in Kyrgyzstan, of which 70% have no adequate access to clean drinking water. Many water supply systems have not been repaired for a long time. They operate only partly, and some of them do not work at all, which also affects the collection rates, which are generally not high because of the low quality of services.

Only 30% of communities have relatively new water supply systems. In the last decade, almost all the work on the water supply was carried out within the framework of the Taza Suu program, consisting of two projects funded by two donors — the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank (WB). The other projects were financed by other donors: Habitat, Central Asian Water Alliance, Rural Investment Project (the WB), and the Aga Khan Foundation.

According to Anara Choitonbayeva, the chairman of Kyrgyzstan’s Alliance on Water and Sanitation, over the past twenty years of independence, Kyrgyzstan has not had a strategy for either rural or urban water supply.

“Bishkekvodokanal (Bishkek Water Supply Network) is the only source in Kyrgyzstan, from which you can drink tap water without fear of getting sick. However, the issues of drinking water and sanitation are not included in the list of priorities in the strategic and policy documents of the Government,” said Askar Satybekov, the deputy director of the Community Development and Investment Agency (ARIS). “Kyrgyzstan’s National Sustainable Development Strategy for 2013-2017, adopted in January 2013, also does not include the development of the water supply sector as a priority. That is why the national budget does not have funds to support this sector.”

The low availability to Kyrgyzstan's population of safe drinking water and improved sanitation conditions is a qualitative indicator of growing poverty. “The economic and social prosperity of citizens is impossible without addressing the issues of quality water supply services,” said Anara Dautaliyeva, the head of the Taza Tabigat NGO.

Over the last two years, the ADB and WB repeatedly raised the issue that it is difficult to talk about further funding without the task-oriented state policy and water sector development strategy. Based on this fact, ARIS supports the Interdepartmental working group to develop a strategy for water supply and sanitation development in Kyrgyz villages with the support of international consultants.

The draft strategy will be ready by April of this year, and then it will be submitted to the Government and Parliament.

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