Image: UNDP Uzbekistan

The arid regions of Central Asia, including the Aral Sea, are one of the most rapidly deteriorating environments in the world. With the disappearance of the Aral Sea, the soil quality in nearby areas increasingly declined every year, turning once fertile pastures into a desert where plants could not grow. The situation is worsened by climate change, which catalyzes extreme and dangerous weather patterns. In May 2018, a large sandstorm swept across the territory of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, Khorezm, Bukhara and other regions of our country, saturating the air, and covering the earth's surface with toxic dust, that not only hurt humans, but also damaged cotton, wheat and fruit crops over a large area.

One of solution to this formidable challenge is planting saxauls - sand-loving and relatively salt-tolerant plants. These trees have root systems reaching up to tens of meters in depth that strengthen the soil, protect it from rapid deterioration and the subsequent release of toxic dust into the atmosphere. They also act as a barrier preventing the buildup of sand and dust into the harmful sandstorms already mentioned.  

The joint UNDP and Uzhydromet project, "Ensuring the resilience of farmers in the dry regions of Uzbekistan" is financed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (NFCCC) Adaptation Fund, in cooperation with the State Forestry Committee of the Republic of Karakalpakstan. The Project will assist in the implementation of government programs for developing and preserving biodiversity in the Aral Sea region. Through Project’s technical assistance in the period 2018-2020, the State Forestry Committee has already performed reforestation work on an area of ​​35,100 hectares.

On September 8, 2020, within the technical support, another batch of agricultural machinery, including tractors, tractor trolleys and mobile water tanks, were handed over to the State Forestry Committee of the Republic of Karakalpakstan.

Moreover, with the assistance of the joint project, 5 nurseries were formed to grow saxaul seedlings in an amount sufficient to restore plantations on an area of ​​20 thousand hectares. These seedlings will be handed over to the Forestry Committee of the Republic of Karakalpakstan to carry out planting work this autumn, as UNDP's contribution to further improving the environmental situation and developing climate-resistant agriculture in the Aral Sea region. The joint project continues to work to facilitate the successful implementation of the State programmes and the achievement of the goals set for the project.

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