On November 22, 2022, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced the launch of the second phase of its Environmental Restoration of the Aral Sea activity.
USAID will provide up to $1.6 million, subject to the availability of funds, to expand the project from Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan, which will improve resilience to the adverse effects of desertification in the Aral Sea region by growing new forests.
This funding will support local efforts to improve air quality and strengthen the climate resilience of communities living in the Aral Sea region of Uzbekistan.
This support builds on the first phase in Kazakhstan, which remains ongoing and focuses on advancing the restoration of the Aral Sea ecosystem and improving livelihoods that depend on the environmental resource.
This funding will also support research into, and the transnational sharing of, innovative technologies and techniques for planting and irrigation.
This research will be shared among subject matter experts, as well as with government and private sector partners with interests in environmental restoration and agribusiness.
The Aral Sea tragedy is one of the world’s most infamous environmental disasters.
Once the fourth-largest lake in the world, by 1997 the sea had shrunk to approximately 10 percent of its former size due to water diversions from the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers for agriculture.
Today, the dried seabed poses a water security threat for communities and contributes heavily to frequent sand and dust storms that negatively impact both the environment and human health for hundreds of kilometers around the region.
USAID supports Central Asia’s priority to fight climate change and international partners’ commitment at COP27 to seek nature-based solutions to mitigate future climate crises.
USAID says that, for decades, they have supported sustainable, environmental solutions across Central Asia to foster improved stability, economic prosperity and healthy ecosystems.
Photo of abandoned ship near Aral, Kazakhstan by Staecker via Wikipedia.