The Syr Darya River Conflict: An Experimental Case Study
AbstractWith the disintegration of the USSR a conflict arose between Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan over the Syr Darya river. Upstream Kyrgyzstan operates the Toktogul reservoir which generates hydropower demanded mainly in winter for heating. Downstream Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan need irrigation water in summer, primarily to grow cotton. Regional agreements obliging Kyrgyzstan to high summer discharges in exchange for fossil fuel transfers in winter have generally been unsuccessful, notably due to lack of trust between the parties. Striving for self-sufficiency in irrigation water, Uzbekistan initiated new reservoir construction. This paper examines their economic impact. We report a laboratory experiment modelling the Syr Darya river scenario as a multi-round three-player trust game with non-binding contracts. Payoff schemes are estimated using real-life data. While basinwide efficiency maximisation requires regional cooperation, our results demonstrate that cooperation in the laboratory is hard to achieve. Uzbek reservoirs improve the likelihood of cooperation only weakly and their positive economic impact is limited to low-water years.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham in its series Discussion Papers with number 2005-14.
Date of creation: Jul 2005
Date of revision:
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Central Asia; common-pool resources; conflict; dams; hydropower; irrigation; experimental economics; regional public goods; transboundary rivers; Syr Darya; trust games; water;
Other versions of this item:
- KLAUS ABBINK & MOLLER, Lars Christian & SARAH O’HARA, 2005. "The Syr Darya River Conflict: An Experimental Case Study," Discussion Papers 2005-14, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
- C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
- C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
- O53 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East
- Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water
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