• KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09411 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09411 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09411 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09411 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09411 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09411 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09411 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09411 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

Viewing results 1 - 6 of 5

Testing Limits: Marathoners Head For the Shrinking Aral Sea to Run in the Desert

The dry bed of the Aral Sea, a symbol of ecological disaster in Central Asia, will host one of the world’s more extreme marathons on Sunday. Supported by aid stations and medical staff, a small band of athletes will run on sand, gravel and stones, inhaling salty air in scorching temperatures and bracing themselves against strong winds. The Aral Sea Eco Marathon is being held in Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan and planners aim to draw attention to what was once the fourth biggest saltwater lake and is now about 10 percent of its original size. Race promoters also want to highlight the need for sustainable use of water. The marathon roughly coincides with the United Nations-designated day to combat desertification and drought, which falls on June 17.  Andrey Kulikov, founder of the ProRun running school in Uzbekistan, ran a marathon distance in the area last year with American ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes in 4:51:18. Kulikov planned this year’s event with the help of Aziz Abdukhakimov, Uzbekistan’s minister of ecology, environmental protection and climate change. A limit of 100 runners was set, though far fewer signed up. Still, Kulikov said participants are from countries including Japan, China, France, Pakistan, Kenya, Togo and the Philippines. He hopes to expand the event next year. Uzbek participant Denis Mambetov said in a text interview on Telegram that he is taking part because of “a passion for adventure, for something new and unusual, to test one’s strength, and, of course, to draw the attention of others to an environmental problem of global proportions.” The Aral Sea, which lies between northern Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan, began shrinking significantly in the 1960s when water from the rivers that fed it was rerouted for Soviet-led agricultural irrigation. The subsequent emergency of the Aralkum Desert and the sand and dust storms arising from the world’s newest desert have polluted the environment and severely affected health in local communities. There are regional and international efforts to restore the Aral Sea ecosystem, including seed-planting and the implementation of water-saving technologies. The five Central Asian countries - Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan – formed a group three decades ago, soon after independence from Soviet rule, to address the problem. The gap between goals and results is wide, though the countries are recognizing the wider threat of water scarcity as the planet becomes hotter.  “Colleagues are well aware that the problem of water shortage in Central Asia has become acute and irreversible and will only worsen in the future,” Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said at a regional meeting on the Aral Sea last year. “Experts believe that in some regions of Central Asia pressure on water resources will increase three times by 2040. Economic damage could eventually reach 11 percent of regional gross product.” Nurbek Khusanov, who will run the marathon on Sunday,  works at SQB, a top bank in Uzbekistan, and is a leader of its efforts to promote “green” policies that aid the environment. The marathon will “attract more people to the Aral...

The Aral Sea: Addressing Water Issues, Crisis, and Striving for a Better Life in Central Asia

By Arindam Banik and Muhtor Nasirov   The world is currently grappling with the devastating impact of climate change, as rising temperatures have become an undeniable reality. In January 2024, the global temperature exceeded normal levels for the second consecutive month, pushing the global average temperature over the 1.5-degree threshold for the first time. Many human activities, such as unplanned water use, excessive groundwater extraction, and climate change, are thought to be contributing to this situation. One poignant example is the case of the Aral Sea in Central Asia. This once breathtaking and teeming endorheic lake, nestled between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, was not just a body of water. It was a symbol of life, a testament to the beauty and resilience of nature. Its azure waters and diverse marine life were a source of sustenance and livelihood for the region's people. It was a vibrant ecosystem, nourished by the almost entire flow of the two main rivers, the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, in the upstream region of Central Asia. Interestingly, the Amu Darya River used to flow into the Caspian Sea through Uzboy Channel. However, a significant shift occurred during human settlement when the flow of these rivers was redirected into the Aral Sea, marking a crucial turning point in the region's hydrological history. Despite its former glory as the third-largest lake in the world, covering an area of 68,000 km2 (26,300 sq miles), the Aral Sea began shrinking in the 1960s after the rivers that fed it were diverted to support large-scale irrigation for cotton production intended for export. The irrigated area in the Aral Sea Basin has now expanded to eight million hectares. By 2007, it had decreased to only 10 percent of its original size, dividing into four lakes. By 2009, the southeastern lake had vanished, and the southwestern lake had shrunk to a thin strip at the western edge of the former southern sea. In the following years, occasional water flows partially replenished the southeastern lake. In August 2014, NASA satellite images revealed that the eastern basin of the Aral Sea had completely dried up, leading to the formation of the Aralkum Desert. This dramatic change has severely impacted the ecology, risking the survival of numerous fish subspecies and three endemic sturgeon species. The loss of these species disrupts the natural balance and affects the livelihoods of the local communities that depend on fishing. The herring, sand smelt, and gobies were the first planktivorous fish in the lake, and their decline led to the lake's zooplankton population collapse. Consequently, the herring and sand-smelt populations have not recovered. Except for the carp, snakehead, and possibly the pipefish, all introduced species survived the lake’s shrinkage and increased salinity. In an attempt to revive fisheries, the European flounder was introduced. This situation is urgent as the delicate balance of this ecosystem is on the verge of collapse. The region's once-prosperous fishing industry has been devastated, leading to unemployment and economic hardship. Additionally, the diverted Syr Darya River...

USAID Oasis Project on Course to Restore Aral Sea Ecosystem

The U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan has announced that from 12 – 16 April, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will visit the Oasis project on the former shores of the Aral Sea in the Kyzylorda region of Kazakhstan. Launched in 2021, the Oasis is integral to Environmental Restoration of the Aral Sea Activity (ERAS-I); a larger initiative spawned by USAID in cooperation with the Executive Directorate of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea. Comprising a 500-hectare demonstration site for testing black saxaul shrubs, the project represents a first step in restoring the local ecosystem and demonstrates the willingness of governments, NGOs, and local communities to collaborate on building resilience against environmental threats to Central Asia. In advance of the expedition to commemorate the project’s success and celebrate the efforts of those who contributed to its realization, U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Daniel Rosenblum, stated: “The testing and research at the Oasis will benefit not only Kazakhstan communities in this region, but will also inform ecosystem restoration efforts throughout the Aral Sea region. Working together with national and international partners, we are proud to be part of this mission to find collaborative solutions to build climate resilience in Central Asia.” The Aral Sea disaster is one of the worst ecological catastrophes in human history. Formerly the fourth largest lake in the world, the Aral Sea began shrinking in the 1960s when water from the rivers that fed it was redirected for agricultural irrigation. Today, the Aral Sea is only 10% full. The subsequent birth of the Aralkum Desert and the sand and dust storms rising from the world’s newest desert have both polluted the environment and severely affected the health in local communities.

Uzbekistan to Host Eco Race in Support of Aral Sea Region

On April 18 in Moynaq, Karakalpakstan, organizers Prorun will host an Aral Sea Eco Race with a total distance of two kilometers. Participants will run one km to the location of a tree planting, plant a tree, and then return. At the finish line, each participant will receive a medal in the form of a symbolic tree for partaking in the restoration project. As organizer Andrey Kulikov told the Times of Central Asia, "the run is being held to draw the world's attention to the environmental problems of the region and inspire everyone to take actions to protect it. Twelve participants have already registered, and about a hundred runners are expected. The run will be held at the experimental site next to the nature museum in Moynaq. The three fastest runners will receive commemorative prizes. In every race organized by the Prorun movement, we aim to attract as many people as possible to a healthy lifestyle and to dedicate the races to environmental protection and environmental issues. Our biggest event will be a 42-km marathon on the dried-up Aral Sea bed, which will take place on June 17. A hundred people will take part in the race dedicated to the International Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. In addition, Prorun practices 'plogging' races, during which participants collect rubbish along their route." The Aral Sea Eco Race is being held as part of the Aral Sea Tourism Week, which will run from April 16-19 in the Nukus and Moynaq districts of Karakalpakstan. During the week, there will be an international scientific and practical seminar "Goodwill Ambassadors of the Aral Sea," an exhibition and an art exhibition entitled "The Aral Sea Through the Eyes of Artists," where paintings of the Aral Sea will be presented. The participants will also enjoy a gastronomic festival called 99 kinds of fish dishes of the Aral Sea, and a trip to historical monuments. Last autumn, Uzbekistan planted 28,000 hectares of greenery in the Moynaq district and the desert areas of the Aral Sea basin as part of a nationwide greening campaign called Yashil Makon (Green Edge). In 2024, Kazakhstan plans to plant on 275,000 hectares of the former Aral Sea bed. In total, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Kazakhstan, 544,500 hectares of forest were sown between 2021-2023.

Eco-Activists Tackle Dust Storms on Karakalpakstan’s Aral Sea

Forestry workers and ecological activists in Uzbekistan’s northwestern Karakalpakstan region have begun planting desert plants on dried up sections of the Aral Sea.  Salt and dust carried in the wind cause significant damage to areas adjacent to the Aral Sea and their inhabitants. Every year more than 100 million tons of salt, dust and sand are blown from the bottom of the former Aral Sea and mix into the air.  Up until the late-1990s, the land surrounding the Aral Sea was still cotton fields; today, it’s largely an expanse of salinized grey emptiness. The desiccation of the landscape has led to these vast toxic dust-storms that ravage around 1.5 million square kilometers. Spreading nitrates and carcinogens, these storms - visible from space - used to occur once every five years, but now strike ten times a year. Once a thriving agricultural center, Karakalpakstan, home to the remaining section of the so-called Large Aral Sea, is now one of the sickest places on Earth. Respiratory illness, typhoid, tuberculosis and cancers are rife, and the region has the highest infant mortality rate in the former USSR. “This year we plan to create green plantations in the most vulnerable places, where the winds with salt and sand come from,” said Zinovy Novitsky, a project manager from the Research Institute of the State Forestry Committee. “We plan to plant trees on 150-200,000 hectares. The country is introducing an effective policy to combat this problem.”  Between 2018 and 2023, 1.7 million hectares of forests were planted on the bottom of what used to be the Aral Sea. To date, forestry enterprises have collected and prepared for sowing 192 tons of desert plant seeds, including 71 tons of saxaul seeds. Similar plans are being undertaken across the border in Kazakhstan, where, according to the International Fund for saving the Aral Sea in the Republic of Kazakhstan, the so called “Green Aral Sea” being created will make a massive contribution to the process of achieving carbon neutrality. “One saxaul retains up to 4 tons of sand, 1 hectare of four-year-old saxaul absorbs 1,158.2 kg of carbon dioxide and releases 835.4 kg of oxygen per year, [whilst] the shrubby plant, salsola richteri kar absorbs 1,547.8 kg of carbon dioxide and releases 1,116.4 kg of oxygen per hectare. Accordingly, 1.1 million hectares will consume about 1.3 million tons of carbon dioxide.”