Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Oct.30
By Demir Azizov- Trend:
The international conference on the development of cooperation in the Aral Sea Basin to mitigate the consequences of environmental catastrophe was held in Urgench, the administrative center of Uzbekistan's Khorezm province.
The conference was organized in accordance with the order of Uzbek President Islam Karimov to mobilize the efforts of the international community for implementing the projects aimed at improving the environmental and socio-economic situation in the Aral Sea region.
The event was attended by environmental scientists, representatives of the UN, World Health Organization (WHO), international financial institutions, as well as ambassadors of foreign countries.
The conference focused on the regional projects, reports that were presented by the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea and heads of delegations of international organizations and donors.
It was earlier reported that the total river flow into the Aral Sea, which was the fourth largest lake in the world, has decreased by almost 4.5 times, while the water surface area of the sea has shrunk by eight times over the last 50 years.
Currently, a sand-salt desert area of 5.5 million hectares has been formed on the area of the sea. Over 75 million metric tons of dust and toxic salts rises into the atmosphere from the desiccating sea annually. Large amount of salt and dust removal from the seabed has caused various diseases among the population. More than half of the gene pool of flora and fauna has died out in the region.
The International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) was created in January 1993 by Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. During the 48th session of the UN General Assembly in 1993, the president of Uzbekistan drew the world's attention to the problems of the Aral Sea. During the 50th session of the UN General Assembly in 1995, the representatives of states affected by the Aral Sea disaster urged to render assistance in rescuing the Aral Sea and the sea region. President Karimov put forward an initiative to establish a council on the problems of the Aral Sea under the auspices of the UN.
Tashkent hosted an international conference on the problems of the Aral Sea and their impact on the gene pool of population, flora and fauna and international cooperation on mitigation of their consequences with the support of the United Nations in 2008.
The action plan worked out during the conference, formed the basis of the third program on rendering assistance to countries of the Aral Sea for 2011-2015. The Executive Committee of IFAS, the UN, World Bank, ADB, the European Union and the governments of a number of donor countries took part in its development. It was planned to allocate over $8.5 billion for the implementation of more than 300 projects included in the program.
Edited by CN