1 Summary of Main Points 1 2 Introduction 2




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UNDP / GWP

Project for a National Plan Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and Water Efficiency Plan
First Working Paper on the Establishment of River Basin Councils in Kazakhstan

July 2004

Table of Contents


1 Summary of Main Points 1

2 Introduction 2

2.1 Project Description 2

2.2 Background on River Basin Councils 2

3 Considerations for River Basin Councils 3

3.1 General 3

3.2 The Purpose of a River Basin Council 4

3.3 Information Needs with Regard to River Basin Councils 4

3.4 Funding the River Basin Councils 5

4 Establishing the Balkash-Alakol River Basin Council 5

4.1 Development of an Action Plan with Balkash-Alakol RBO 5

4.2 Determination of a General Structure of RBCs 5

4.3 Identification of Key Stakeholders 5

4.4 Preparation of Outline Responsibilities of RBC Members 6

4.5 Dissemination of Outline Responsibilities of RBC Members 6

4.6 Mobilisation of Stakeholders 6

4.7 Selection of Initial Council Members 6



4.8 Official Establishment RBC and First RBC Meeting 7

5 Establishing all River Basin Councils 7

6 Proposed Schedule for the Establishment of RBCs 7

UNDP / GWP

Project for a National Plan Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and Water Efficiency Plan
First Working Paper on the Establishment of River Basin Councils in Kazakhstan

1Summary of Main Points





  • The River Basin Council (RBC) is an advisory body on water resources management issues. This implies they advise (among others) the River Basin Organisations (RBOs).

  • River Basin Councils are instituted in Article 43 of the 2003 Water Code. Model provisions on their structure and duties are approved by the order of the Committee for Water Resources of April 21, 2004. It set the requirements for the RBOs to establish basin councils as well as to draft and initiate conclusions of basin agreements.

  • The process of establishment of River Basin Councils needs to be supported by a Regulation approved by the Government. It will strengthen the status of RBCs and stimulate active participation with various governmental bodies in its activities, especially oblast akimats.

  • According to the Draft Regulation on RBCs, they should be set up within 6 months of the government approving the Regulation.

  • The establishment of the Councils not be rushed, but rather they are set up to truly represent the water users and effectively advise the RBOs. A schedule for establishment of all eight RBCs is proposed in this paper.

  • Accomplishing the establishment of RBCs assumes a large degree of involvement from the CWR and the RBOs.

  • Funding RBCs requires serious consideration.

  • River Basin Councils are NOT water resources managers. The RBC is an advisory body to the RBO.

  • The RBCs expand the participatory process to ensure all water users are heard and to formalise the process of water users advising the water managers.

  • Information is a key requirement of the RBCs in order to advise the RBOs effectively. The chronic lack of water and environment related information is therefore a major concern.

  • The Project recommends that the Balkash-Alakol RBO pilots the establishment of the RBCs to enhance the quality and speed up the process for the other 7 basins.

  • The main steps proposed for Balkash-Alakol are:

    1. Development of an Action Plan with Balkash-Alakol RBO

    2. Identification of Key Stakeholders

    3. Preparation of Outline Responsibilities of RBC Members

    4. Dissemination of Outline Responsibilities of RBC Members

    5. Mobilisation of Stakeholders

    6. Selection of Initial Council Members

    7. Official Establishment RBC and First RBC Meeting

  • This is followed by the initial establishment of all River Basin Councils by the end of 2005

  • Project support will continue after initial establishment to ensure the RBCs are firmly entrenched in the water resources management process


2Introduction

2.1Project Description

This Working Paper on the Establishment of River Basin Councils (RBCs) is prepared through the Project for a National IWRM and Efficiency Plan managed by UNDP and funded by the Government of Norway and assisted by the Global Water Partnership (GWP) and the UNDP. The Project will support and assist the CWR and RBOs in establishing the eight RBCs of Kazakhstan. This Working Paper is prepared as a brief description of how the RBCs may be set up, with the intention of beginning dialogue toward the structure of the Plans. This paper will be discussed at several stakeholder events to agree on the approach and contents of the Plans. This First Working Paper on RBCs will be followed by updates at various points in the Project as necessary.


Three of the primary outputs of the Project are:


  1. National IWRM and Efficiency Plans and River Basin IWRM and Efficiency Plans

  2. Establishment of River Basin Councils (RBCs)

  3. Strategy for the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for Water

The three outputs are cross linked. For example, the National and River Basin IWRM Plans and the Strategy for MDGs will require water stakeholders to participate in the formulation of priorities and the transition strategy. The establishment of the River Basin Councils is one aspect of mobilising stakeholders in the process and will be an early part of the work in instituting IWRM. The context of working to achieve the MDGs and to create an IWRM environment also provides a good framework for mobilising stakeholders and establishing the RBCs.


Because of the simultaneous development of the IWRM Plans and Strategy for MDGs, one of the target priorities of the Plans will be on what is needed for achieving the MDGs mainly in the perspective of water resource management. Similarly, the need for stakeholder participation in both the MDGs and the IWRM Plans is facilitated through the output of establishing the River Basin Councils. In addition, the Committee for Water Resources links the three components as their responsibilities as the national water managers cut across these key water initiatives.

2.2Background on River Basin Councils

Two key principles of IWRM are those of managing water resources at the river basin level and the active involvement of water stakeholders in the management of water resources. Stakeholders can be included and represented in a number of ways but it is generally accepted that a River Basin Council or its equivalent is the most efficient organisation to act as the face of the water users.


The need for RBCs has been acknowledged in Kazakhstan through the 2003 Water Code, Article 43, which states:


        1. The order of the Committee for Water Resources of April 21 2004 states that River Basin Organisations shall report on their activity on establishment of the River Basin Councils.

        2. The River Basin Council shall be chaired by the head of the relevant River Basin Organisation and comprise heads of local representative and executive bodies and territorial bodies of state authorities and representatives of water users. A River Basin Council can also include representatives of non-government organizations. Organization of the activities of the basin council shall be a responsibility of the River Basin Organisation.

        3. The River Basin Council shall examine topical issues of use and protection of the water resource and make suggestions and recommendations for participants of the basin agreement.

Accomplishing this task requires a large degree of involvement from the CWR and the RBOs. It is the responsibility of the RBOs, as representatives of the government, to mobilise stakeholders and promote and ensure their involvement in water management decision making and to take the lead in establishing the River Basin Councils. The Project will assist the RBOs in setting up the RBCs. Initially the work will be carried out in the Balkash-Alakol River Basin as a pilot, with the RBCs in all other basins following closely behind.



3Considerations for River Basin Councils

3.1General

The Draft Regulation on River Basin Councils (see Appendix 1) states that they are to be set up within 6 months after the adoption of the Regulation through a Resolution of Government. The Regulation has not been adopted at the time of writing but it is expected to be adopted soon, so there is some pressure to complete.


It is proposed that the establishment of the Councils not be rushed, but rather that they are set up in such a way that they truly represent the water users and can effectively advise the RBOs. While official discussions are held between some water users and the RBOs on a regular basis, the RBC is a new approach to water resources management in Kazakhstan. Indeed, allowing non-government organisations, including the public, into the decision making process of government organisations is new to Kazakhstan. Time will be needed to make the RBCs work properly. The initial RBCs will be set up rather quickly; in Balkash-Alakol by April 2005, the remainder by the end of 2005. Once they are operating they will evolve. With the right will to make them work they will become a very effective, time and money saving addition to the water resources management structure of Kazakhstan.
In general terms, the proposal for establishing the RBCs is to begin the work in the Balkash-Alakol River Basin as a pilot, but to follow with the process of extending the work to the other seven basins as quickly as possible. There are several steps in setting up the RBCs. As each step is completed the experience and knowledge gained in the Balkash-Alakol Basin can be extended to other basins immediately.
The RBCs may be less effective in their first year or two. However, after its members become used to their new responsibilities, they will improve and evolve as their roles become clearer.

3.2The Purpose of a River Basin Council

River Basin Councils are NOT water resources managers. That task remains with the River Basin Organisations. The RBC is an advisory body, made up of and representing water users in their various forms, which ensures that their needs are met in the decision making on water resources management. It is the obligation of the RBOs, as the water resources managers, to respond to the needs of the water users, which the RBCs will represent. But the response of the RBO must be founded on what it can do in terms of ensuring sufficient supply while protecting the water resource and the watershed, and managing the water on behalf of ALL water users, including the environment.


The current approach to water resources management by the RBOs already takes into account the needs and interests of most water users as a matter of course. Meetings are held on an annual or more frequent basis and the water management issues discussed and solutions agreed. However, not all stakeholders are necessarily represented. Environmental NGOs and related interest groups, ecological interests, civil society (end water users in urban and rural environments), as examples, are not typically part of the participatory process.
The RBCs, therefore, expand the participatory process to ensure all water users are heard and formalise the process of water users advising the water managers. In other words, they are not a great change from the current process, but they are an improvement in line with the principles of IWRM.

3.3Information Needs with Regard to River Basin Councils

Information is a key requirement of the RBCs in order to advise the RBOs effectively. The chronic lack of water and environment related information is therefore a major concern. Accurate information is needed on the water resource, on water use, on water quality, on ecological aspects, etc. Information exists in many places but much of it is difficult to access because it has not been processed, it is too expensive or other factors.


A National Water Information Centre is planned by CWR but it has so far not received the requisite budgets. In the long term the RBOs should be the main source of water related information and Water Information Systems should be based in the RBOs with a central component with CWR.
The means of improving information collection and management will be assessed in the National IWRM Plan. But consideration also needs to be given to information needs during the work to establish the RBCs.

3.4Funding the River Basin Councils


The Draft Regulation on the River Basin Councils states that information and other support will be provided by the RBO. It also states that all costs of the RBC will be covered by the RBO. The Draft Regulation is not yet passed and it is not know at this time what changes may be made in the final version.


Serious consideration needs to be given to how the RBCs will be financed. In general, the positions on the RBC are voluntary in the sense that the members are not paid. However, there are expenses of various sorts, including travel to meetings and accommodation at the meetings, obtaining information, etc. Eventually they will also need a technical or administrative arm which will also need money.
The RBO simply does not have the money to support the RBCs. They don’t even have enough money to support themselves properly. They don’t have enough money to get the information they require for their own work, let alone providing information to the RBC.
Another approach may be required which will properly support the RBC and the RBO and keep the RBC and RBO and ensure impartiality of the members of the RBO – i.e., not supported by the RBO.

4Establishing the Balkash-Alakol River Basin Council


The proposed approach is to establish the Balkash-Alakol RBC first, with each step followed in the other seven basins. This section describes the approach in Balkash-Alakol.

4.1Development of an Action Plan with Balkash-Alakol RBO

The first step will be to agree a plan of action with Balkash-Alakol RBO which will detail the remainder of the actions. The action plan will be approximately like the steps listed in the following sections.


4.2Determination of a General Structure of RBCs

A general plan for the structure of RBCs will need to be determined early on so that stakeholders can be identified. This initial structure may change somewhat once all stakeholders are identified and the RBC members are selected. However, the initial structure will provide a form around which to develop the RBCs.


4.3Identification of Key Stakeholders

The key stakeholders need to be identified once the general structure is determined. It is important to have representation from all water users as well as organisations which work to protect the environment of the watershed. Key stakeholders would include the large water users such as Vodokanals and Vodkhoz, municipalities, industries and large irrigators. The list would also include representatives of smaller users such as farmer groups in irrigated areas and the public in both urban and rural environments. Groups working to protect the environment must be represented. They may be water users or be involved in some way in watershed protection.


The list of key stakeholders is likely to be fairly extensive. The actual RBC will be selected from this list.


4.4Preparation of Outline Responsibilities of RBC Members

Individual people among the stakeholders must be able to decide for themselves if they wish to be involved with the RBC. To make that decision they must have information on what the RBC will do and what their roles, tasks, responsibilities will be. Initial ideas for the responsibilities need to be developed with input from key stakeholders. Workshops or other such forums may be needed.


These ideas will be presented and discussed at the November Conference.

4.5Dissemination of Outline Responsibilities of RBC Members

Once the responsibilities are determined an RBC Information Package will be prepared outlining RBC members’ activities. This will be disseminated to stakeholders as widely as possible so the potential RBC members can make an informed decision on their participation. The Information Package should be made available at public locations, such as Akimats, so that interested people can pick them up. They should also be available on the CWR web site for those with internet access.


A simple public awareness campaign on the new institution of RBCs will be highly valuable here. This should be done through the Public Awareness Department of the CWR who are already active in publicising the work and activities of the CWR. It would advertise the RBC Information Package and let people know where it is available. This will be a main element in the mobilisation of stakeholders.
The Project will assist in the preparation and execution of the PA campaign and the preparation of the RBC Information Package.

4.6Mobilisation of Stakeholders

Stakeholders need to be actively mobilised in order to be come part of, or be represented by, the RBC. The first step of mobilisation will be accomplished through the PA campaign. Subsequently other activities such as public forums and workshops will be held to reach as many stakeholders as possible. This should provide sufficient information and interest to allow the selection of the members of the River Basin Council.


4.7Selection of Initial Council Members

Once the stakeholders are identified and they are informed of their duties and responsibilities, a selection must be made for the RBC itself. The RBC needs to be relatively small so that decisions can be made efficiently. Typically such councils would have 15 or 20, to a maximum of 25 members.


The mechanism for the selection is as yet undecided. Certainly the RBO and CWR needs to be involved in determining the method of selection. Will members, or at least the type of specific seats on the council, be appointed by a selecting group? Will the members be elected by the larger body of stakeholders? Above all the RBC must be as representative as possible of the water users and other interested groups as possible.
Choosing the appropriate method of selection is difficult, but experience shows that RBCs will evolve to the correct representation as long as the RBO and the RBC take the role of the RBC seriously in terms of it being truly representative. Where gaps in the representation are identified they can be filled at a later date. If one group is seen to dominate, that, too, can be changed later.
The Balkash-Alakol basin will make a good pilot for the development and establishment of RBCs because it has a good mix of water users and environmental concerns.

4.8Official Establishment RBC and First RBC Meeting

The structure, duties and working procedure for each particular RBC should be defined by through By-laws which need still to be developed. However, to begin with, once the members of the RBC are selected, it can be officially established and the first RBC meeting held. This is planned for April 2005 in the Balkash-Alakol River Basin.



5Establishing all River Basin Councils

The work to establish the seven other RBCs will follow that of the Balkash-Alakol Basin as quickly as possible in a step-by-step manner. This is as opposed to waiting for the complete establishment of the Balkash-Alakol RBC before starting work on the others. As each step is completed in Balkash-Alakol and seen to be working, the methodology can be applied to the others or amended and then applied. This way the RBCs can be established as quickly as possible.


At this time the overall method is expected to be the same as for Balkash-Alakol. However, the purpose of running a pilot first is to identify shortcomings in the initial method so that it can be changed where necessary. The work plan, shown below in Figure 1, identifies a schedule that will establish all RBCs by the end of 2005. However, this is flexible and may change somewhat once work begins.
After all RBC are established, the Project will continue its support to RBCs to ensure they are fully entrenched in the water resources management system in Kazakhstan.

6Proposed Schedule for the Establishment of RBCs


Figure 1 below shows the proposed draft schedule for establishing the RBCs. It is intended for discussion and will be updated at various points in the project, initially following development of the Action Plan.

Figure 1: Proposed Schedule for the Establishment of River Basin Councils



Appendix 1
Order of the Committee for Water Resources of April 21 2004 on River Basin Councils
Explanatory Note on the order of the Committee for Water Resources of April 21 2004 on River Basin Councils


      1. The draft Water Code, in Article 43, establishes the new institution of River Basin Councils. They function as an advisory body to the River Basin Organization, with the participation of local executive and representative bodies, authorized territorial state bodies, water users and nongovernmental organisations. Such bodies are new to Kazakhstan, and therefore the attached draft governmental resolution is proposed to define the procedure for establishing river basin councils and to regulate their legal status and activity.

      2. The councils must be established within six months of the adoption of the «Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan
        on River Basin Councils and accompanying Regulation».

      3. The main purpose of the river basin councils is to provide a regular forum of consultation where authorities and water users can inform themselves and express their views on issues concerning the use and protection of water resources.

      4. The structure of the proposed Regulation of the River Basin Council includes the following sections:




  • general provisions

  • objectives and tasks

  • documents and materials to be considered by the River Basin Council

  • structure

  • working procedure

  • order of meetings

  • support


1. General Provisions


  1. The River Basin Council is an advisory body to the River Basin Organisation on matters of water resources use and protection.

  2. The activities of the River Basin Council are based on the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Water Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, this regulation and the basin agreements on the rehabilitation and protection of the water bodies.

  3. The decisions of the River Basin Council are advisory in character.


2. Objectives and Tasks


  1. The objective of the River Basin Council is to establish a forum for cooperation on the use and protection of water resources in the river basin.

  2. The main tasks of the River Basin Council are:

  • Consideration of and advice on issues regarding the use and protection of water resources from the points of view of the participants of the River Basin Council

  • Preparation of agreements on joint activities by the participants of the River Basin Council.


3. Documents and Materials to be Considered by the River Basin Council


  1. Within the framework of the implementation of the objectives and tasks under paragraph 5, the River Basin Council shall consider the following documents and materials:




  • Proposals for River Basin Schemes for Comprehensive Use and Protection of the Water Resources;

  • Plans of the local executive bodies on rational use of water bodies of the basin;

  • Any draft basin agreements on the rehabilitation and protection of the water bodies and reports on implementation;

  • Other documents and materials which are important from the point of view of rational use and protection of water resources of the basin and which need joint consideration by the different governmental and non-governmental organisations, upon the proposal of the Council participants.


4. Structure


  1. The participants of the River Basin Council are the heads of the local representative and executive bodies, the River Basin Organisation and other territorial bodies which carry out the functions of state management of the use and protection of water resources, the water users associations, as well as non-governmental organisation which participate in activities for the use and protection of water resources of the river basin.

  2. The initial composition of the participants from the River Basin Organisations, water users associations and non-governmental organisation shall be decided by the director of the River Basin Organisation on the basis of proposals submitted by interested public and private organisations in the river basin.

  3. Further changes to the participants are to be made by the decision of the River Basin Council based on the proposal of its participants.

  4. Representatives of other public institutions and organisation, private organisations and other individuals may be invited to participate in the meetings of the River Basin Council.


5. Working Procedure


  1. The River Basin Council is chaired by the Director of the River Basin Organisation.

  2. The work of the River Basin Council is conducted in the form of public meetings.

  3. The decisions of the River Basin Council are adopted by simple majority of the participants by open vote.

  4. Access to the minutes and other information materials of the River Basin Council shall be kept at the River Basin Organisation.

  5. The minutes and other preparatory and final records of the River Basin Council shall be kept at the River Basin Organisation.

  6. The River Basin Council may adopt a more detailed procedure for meetings by a decision of participants.


6. Order of Meetings


  1. The River Basin Council shall meet when a majority of the participants decide, but not less than once per calendar year.

  2. The date of the regular meeting shall be set by the head of the River Basin Council in agreements with the participants.

  3. The meeting shall be considered to be authoritative if more than half of the participants of the River Basin Council are present.

  4. The head of the River Basin Council has the right to delegate the role of chairman of the meeting to other participants, with the agreement of the participants.

  5. The chairman of the River Basin Council shall inform the participants of the agenda and work schedule of the River Basin Council.

  6. The list of issues to be included in the agenda of the following meeting shall be prepared by the Director of the River Basin Organisation based on the proposals of the Participants of the River Basin Council.

  7. The initiator for including a question in the agenda of a meeting shall submit to the head of the Basin Council all the necessary information (draft documents, inquiries, explanations, etc.) at least 14 days before the meeting takes place.

  8. The River Basin Council shall distribute the materials for a regular meeting to the participants not less than three days before the meeting takes place.

  9. During the meeting minutes shall be kept which contain all the decisions taken by the River Basin Council.

  10. Within seven days after the date of the meeting of the River Basin Council, the River Basin Organisation shall distribute the minutes of the meeting to all the participants and persons present at the meeting.


7. Support


  1. Information, organisation, materials and technical support of the River Basin Council shall be provided by the River Basin Organisation.

  2. Costs related to the meetings of the River Basin Council are borne by and within the funds of the budget of the River Basin Organisation.




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