By Kamila Aliyeva
The Aral Sea, located on the border of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, in the center of the Central Asian deserts, used to be the fourth largest lake in the world, after the Caspian Sea, and Lakes Superior and Victoria.
Today the Aral Sea is a devastated zone. Its consequences have directly affected the lives and health of hundreds of thousands of people, and have an adverse impact on the economic, social and environmental situation in the region.
Aral Sea has been declared a terrible environmental problem at the global level. A number of international institutions including the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, the Interstate Coordination Water Commission of Central Asia, and the Research and Information Centre have been established in the region to fight with water scarcity.
The Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC) told Azernews about the current projects implemented in Uzbekistan with regards to the development of the Aral Sea zone and mitigation of the consequences of this natural disaster.
Muynak, once Uzbekistan's only port city and well-known fishing centre with tens of thousands of residents, is now dozens of kilometers from the rapidly receding shoreline of the Aral Sea.
Uzbekistan’s State Committee on Ecology and Environmental Protection initiated the round table ‘Prospects of development of Muynak district. Water-saving technologies’ in November 2017,
Within the round table, participants discussed the conditions and prospects of development of Muynak district in view of realization of the Decree of the Uzbek President dated from February 28, 2017 which ensures the implementation of the comprehensive program for 2017-2018.
“A special attention was paid to practices aimed at efficient and productive use of water resources as well as the development of the tourist potential of Muynak district,” CAREC representative told Azernews.
He noted that the implementation of a development program of the region has already begun.
“For example, two tourist routes are currently being developed - from Muynak to the Aral Sea and from Kungrad to the Aral Sea. For this purpose, two hotels will be built in Muynak, and a yurt camp will be built at the entrance to the Aral Sea,” according to CAREC.
After signing the MOU, CAREC and the Uzbek State Committee on Ecology and Environmental Protection have launched to develop joint roadmap for further cooperation, the CAREC representative said.
“The Aral Sea region, tourism and the development of the nearby territories, ecosystem services are some of the points to be covered in the roadmap,” he added.
Recently, CAREC met with the representatives of the Uzbek State Committee on Ecology and Environmental Protection to discuss further cooperation.
They discussed an implementation of joint projects in the field of mitigating the consequences of the environmental catastrophe in the Aral Sea basin region, organization of the second Central Asian International Environmental Forum, issues of attracting new international partners, involvement of foreign experts, creating and developing laboratories, training and retraining of local specialists.
Special attention was paid to the development of ecotourism in Uzbekistan with an emphasis on the Aral Sea zone.
Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva
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