A new study indicates that without concerted effort by national governments and the international community, Central Asia's infrastructure will decline into chaos.
A report released Thursday by the International Crisis Group examines the erosion of the infrastructure of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
The Brussels-based group says that nearly 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the countries in the region have nearly run down the schools, clinics, roads and power plants that date from the Soviet period.
The group's project manager for the region, Paul Quinn-Judge, said that in five to 10 years, the lack of teachers, doctors and electricity in the region will exacerbate social tensions and raise the risk of conflict.
The report concludes the region's governments need to end corruption, initiate systematic reforms, and use resources to enrich the entire nation, not just the ruling elite.
The report also suggests international donors place tougher conditions on aid disbursement.
The International Crisis Group says that during the Soviet era, the nations of Central Asia were required to work together and share resources as part of a single system. The report says now they no longer have to get along - and usually do not.
The study says the quality of education and health care has plummeted in the region, particularly in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, where it says these sectors have almost ceased to exist.
The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-governmental organization that conducts field-based analyses in crisis-hit countries around the world.