The great rivers of Southern Kazakhstan
Nature of Kazakhstan
The Syr Darya flows across Kazakhstan territory for about two-thirds of its 3,000- kilometre course. flowing through Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan. One of the principal rivers of central Asia, it is formed in the Fergana Valley , Uzbekistan, by the junction of the Naryn and Kara Darya rivers, which rise in the Tian Shan mts.
It flows W through Tajikistan, then NW through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, past Kyzylorda, and into the northern basin of the Aral Sea. Its shallowness makes it unfit for navigation.
Its waters are used for irrigating the important cotton-growing areas along its course and for hydroelectric power, but the river has become increasingly polluted, especially reaches Kazakhstan.
The Syr-Darya forms the northern and eastern limits of the Kyzyl Kum desert. It is paralleled in its lower course by the Trans-Caspian RR.
Alexander the Great in his conquest of Persia reached the river c.329 BC and may have founded the chief city on its course – Khudjand - on the site of an older city.
Battles have been fought, advanced cultures developed and agriculture manufacturing and trade practised along its banks. In ancient times the river was named the Kang, and during the early Middle Ages the Seykhun; many generations of farmers built and maintained sophisticated small-scale irrigation systems using the great river's life-giving water.
Reservoirs and canals were constructed with such ingenuity that a large part of the water taken from the river flowed back into it. Evaporation was kept to a minimum, and the entire village community carried out construction and maintenance of the water works which were crucial for survival.
Soviet technocrats put an end to this era; the river was bled to death senselessly and ineffectively for the monocultures of cotton and rice. But despite the fact that the river's power is only a shadow of what it used to be, it still plays an important role in the region, with hundreds of towns and auls on its banks still surviving because of it.
Initiatives to undertake cross-border water management are under way in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. With luck - and commendable foresight - these initiatives, once put into practice, will have an impact on the region's future that should not be underestimated.
Nothing less than peace in the region is at stake here; water is life in the semi-desert and steppe areas of southern Kazakhstan, and where rivers' courses cross international borders, how they are exploited has direct consequences on the environment and human habitation further downstream.
Source of information:
The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. 2011. The guidebook across Kazakhstan. Authors Dagmar Schreiber and Jeremy Tredinnick
Publishing house "Odyssey".2010. The information from this book is given by author Dagmar Schreiber.
The bridge through river Syr-Darya
Alexander the Great in his conquest
of Persiareached the river c.329
Aklalskiy hydrounit on river Syr-Darya
The Syr-Darya forms the northern
and eastern limits of the Kyzyl Kum