|How the Ailing Sea is Cured|
|Yuri Gorshkov, International Aral Sea Rehabilitation Fund Agency Official
The International Aral Sea Rehabilitation Fund Agency continues to work on implementation of the Aral Sea Basin Program, approved by the heads of Central Asian states. The Aral Sea dried-up seafloor afforestation project in the Aral Sea north coastal zone on the area of 10 thousand hectares comes to completion. In view of importance and necessity of work continuity, feasibility study of another draft program concerning the area of 20 thousand hectares, has begun.
Observations show that in the areas with native drought resistant greenery planted - saxaul, saltwort, tamarisk, saline dust transport level is almost halved every two to three years. The Local Reservoirs Formation on the Amu Darya Delta project has also proved to be good. At present, artificial lakes' total surface area averages 150 thousand hectares. They have had a considerable impact on environment preservation, the region’s biodiversity, regeneration of animal and vegetal life. Reservoirs became a new source of fish products, animal feed, and made people's accommodation more comfortable.
One of the priority tasks of the IFAS Agency is to help the Aral Sea coastal zone population in adapting to market environment, acquiring new professions, establishing their own business, to support first-time entrepreneurs by mini-grants, consultations and advices. Last year, thousands inhabitants of the Republic of Karakalpakstan took part in the project of Social Support for the Aral Sea Coastal Zone Population in Adapting to Market Environment. Experts have developed about 400 schemes, approved and financed 337 of them.
It is well-known what sustainable use of water resources matters for any economy. In this connection, the agency carries out a package of measures to teach people respect and care of water. Water Conservation Contests proved to be good too. They are one of the International Aral Sea Rehabilitation Fund schemes. A cash bonus is stipulated by the project for reduction of water actual consumption without decline in agricultural production. It will be paid by the agency on a competitive basis.
The first results are worth talking about. Last year such a competition was held in Khorezmskaya, Bukharskaya and Navoiyskaya oblasts. 47 business units took part in it, including 21 Water Consumers’ Associations (WCA). Water management and saving are achieved by means of organizational arrangements, reconstruction and installation of simple recording water measurement devices, fields planning, intrafarm land reclamation network maintenance and cleaning, natural organics application concurrently with wetting and so on.
It is noticed that during the competition in some farms 5 to 12% of water is saved over the vegetation period. The first place competition winner in Navoiyskaya oblast, Oston Mirob WCA (Navbakhorsky region) by saving 0.4 million cubic meters of the limit got on an average 55.9 hundreds kilograms of grains per hectare, and 38 hundreds kilograms of cotton per hectare. Water resources saving and management, zero discharge from irrigated lands also allow to significantly improve meliorative state of agricultural lands. Competition winners are rewarded with prizes and presented with corresponding certificates.
Programs and projects on the Aral Sea basin do affect foreign partners, diplomatic representations and international organizations, accredited in Uzbekistan. It is important that there is an understanding that the Aral problem is too large to be solved individually, and too global by its consequences to stand aside from its solving.