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The Syr Darya River Conflict: An Experimental Case Study

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  • KLAUS ABBINK

    ()
    (School of Economics, University of Nottingham)

  • MOLLER, Lars Christian

    ()
    (School of Economics, University of Nottingham)

  • SARAH O’HARA

    ()
    (School of Geography, University of Nottingham)

Abstract

With 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 Info

Paper 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.

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Date of creation: Jul 2005
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Handle: RePEc:not:notcdx:2005-14

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Related research

Keywords: Central Asia; common-pool resources; conflict; dams; hydropower; irrigation; experimental economics; regional public goods; transboundary rivers; Syr Darya; trust games; water;

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References

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  1. Gachter, Simon & Falk, Armin, 2002. " Reputation and Reciprocity: Consequences for the Labour Relation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 104(1), pages 1-26.
  2. Chatterjee, Bishu & Howitt, Richard E. & Sexton, Richard J., 1998. "The Optimal Joint Provision of Water for Irrigation and Hydropower," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 295-313, November.
  3. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
  4. D. Kilgour & Ariel Dinar, 2001. "Flexible Water Sharing within an International River Basin," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 18(1), pages 43-60, January.
  5. Abbink, Klaus & Bernd Irlenbusch & Elke Renner, 1997. "The Moonlighting Game - An Experimental Study on Reciprocity and Retribution," Discussion Paper Serie B 415, University of Bonn, Germany.
  6. Fershtman, C. & Gneezy, U., 2000. "Discrimination in a Segmented Society: an Experimental Approach," Papers 2000-9, Tel Aviv.
  7. Abbink, Klaus & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 1997. "RatImage 3.30," Discussion Paper Serie B 417, University of Bonn, Germany.
  8. Stefan Ambec & Joseph Doucet, 2003. "Decentralizing hydro power production," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 36(3), pages 587-607, August.
  9. Abbink, Klaus & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 1995. "RatImage - research Assistance Toolbox for Computer-Aided Human Behavior Experiments," Discussion Paper Serie B 325, University of Bonn, Germany.
  10. Willinger, Marc & Keser, Claudia & Lohmann, Christopher & Usunier, Jean-Claude, 2003. "A comparison of trust and reciprocity between France and Germany: Experimental investigation based on the investment game," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 447-466, August.
  11. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 2000. "Measuring Beliefs in an Experimental Lost Wallet Game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 163-182, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Abbink, Klaus & Jayne, Thomas S. & Moller, Lars C., 2008. "The relevance of a rules-based maize marketing policy : an experimental case study of Zambia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4727, The World Bank.
  2. Zaikin, Andrey & Espinola-Arredondo, Ana, 2012. "The Carrot or the Stick: Water Allocation Strategies for Uzbekistan," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 124680, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  3. Erika Weinthal, 2006. "Water Conflict and Cooperation in Central Asia," Human Development Occasional Papers (1992-2007) HDOCPA-2006-32, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  4. Duke, Charlotte, 2006. "Experimental Economics and Water Policy," 2006 Annual Meeting, August 12-18, 2006, Queensland, Australia 25369, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  5. Meißner, Nathalie, 2013. "The incentives of private companies to invest in protected area certificates: How coalitions can improve ecosystem sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 148-158.

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