The territorial distribution of water resources in the Aral Sea Basin is very unequal. While the lowlands of the basin are characterised by deserts and semi-deserts, precipitation increases in the mountains, while the high mountains with their glaciers and permafrost areas serve as the «water towers» of the region. On average, 43% of the annual discharge in the basin originates in Tajikistan, 24% in Kyrgyzstan, and approximately 19% in Afghanistan. However, the pattern of water usage is quite the opposite. The upstream mountain states use only about 17% of the water, while downstream Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan use 83%.[Giese et al 2004. Due to lack of data, water abstraction and flow generation in Afghanistan is not included in this figure.]
Water withdrawal and availability in the Aral Basin