Ashgabat hosts the 3rd meeting of the Regional Working Groups on the development of the Programme of Actions for Assisting the Aral Sea Basin Countries (ASBP-4), and improving the institutional and legal mechanisms.
The event was organized by the IFAS Executive Committee with the assistance of the Regional Programme of the German Society for International Cooperation GIZ “Transboundary Water Management in Central Asia”.
Each country submitted its project proposals in 4 basic areas of development of the ASBP-4: integrated water resources management, environmental, socio-economic and institutional and legal mechanisms improvement. And the purpose of the working group is to combine these projects to develop a single document.
– At present, 34 regional projects covering the areas in which the countries of Central Asia are ready to cooperate have been agreed upon, GIZ Regional Advisor Alexander Nikolayenko said.
According to the expert, if in the previous three programs a great emphasis was on the implementation of projects at the national level, the fourth is focused on the regional scale of the programme.
– It is necessary that all countries take a unified approach in implementing socio-economic or environmental programmes. This problem can be solved only by the efforts of all states, he stressed.
The development of a new Programme of Actions to assist the Aral Sea basin countries is one of the initiatives of Turkmenistan put forward as part of its presidency of IFAS. According to Alexander Nikolayenko, during the Turkmenistan presidency, work was intensified with regard to separate projects, as well as the activities of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea in general. For example, meetings of the Board were organized at the level of the first vice-premiers of the Central Asian countries, and a summit of the heads of Central Asia state was held for the first time over the past 10 years.
– The environmental crisis that was caused by the Aral Sea has an impact on all countries in the region. Its drying has an effect on climate change in Central Asia. Not so long ago there were salt storms from the Aral Sea, including in Turkmenistan. In Uzbekistan, a layer of dust covered cotton and wheat fields.
It has already been recognized at the UN level, that it is no longer possible to restore the Aral Sea, as the region’s population is growing. But to reduce the problem, it is necessary to widely use water-saving technologies, which Turkmenistan is doing. Ultimately, even when increasing the production of household products, we reduce the level of water consumption, the expert said.
Many projects proposed by the countries at a meeting of the Working Group are aimed at improving the living conditions of the population in the Aral Sea region, reducing salt flows from its dried bottom, as well as restoring the ecosystem. The proposals include the creation of a remote information database using satellite sensing and the renewed ground-based surveys of the Aral Sea and neighborhood landscape.