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Aral Sea Meeting Set for April 28

When the International Fund to Save the Aral Sea, IFAS, meets in Almaty, Kazakstan, on April 28, it will discuss a common strategy for rational use of Central Asia’s water resources and the interconnection between water and energy, as well as progress on addressing the ecological crisis caused by the drying up of the inland sea.

IFAS includes all five regional states – Kazakstan and Uzbekistan, which the Aral is divided between, and also Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, which also use water from the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers which feed the sea.

Over the past 50 years, water levels in the sea have dropped dramatically as the inflow has fallen from both rivers, due to excess use of their waters for irrigation and other purposes. The Aral’s surface area is now half what it was, and it has lost 75 per cent of its volume. As a result, 30,000 square kilometres of dried-up sea bed have turned into desert.

Because of the inherently different interests of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, where the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rise and which use the water for hydroelectricity generation, and of the downstream states, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakstan, which are perennially short of irrigation water, the five states often disagree how water resources should be managed.

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