On March 11 UNDP Uzbekistan’s Accelerator Lab launched the Green Aral Sea crowdfunding campaign, which will help resolve the impacts of the Aral Sea disaster. Through this campaign we seek to improve the lives of people in local communities, by planting a 100-hectare forest of 100,000 saxaul saplings on the dry seabed.
The Aral Sea was once the world’s fourth largest inland lake, sustaining livelihoods and vibrant ecosystems, but in just a few decades it lost 90% of its size and transformed into the Aralkum desert.
This disaster has reduced the health and economic well-being of the region’s population, while also greatly limiting the region’s once-rich biodiversity. The Green Aral Sea initiative will raise awareness of the Aral Sea disaster, and the efforts made to mitigate its consequences. It will also pilot a new fundraising approach for improving quality of life in the region
Planting the dry Aral seabed with saxaul will have several positive outcomes. The plants will stop the movement of toxic salts and sands, helping reduce high rates of tuberculosis and other illnesses. By hiring local companies to plant the saxaul saplings, our new Initiative will also create opportunities for sustainable income generation.
“Unfortunately, we cannot bring water back to the sea and reverse this tragedy, but what we can do is create opportunities for a better future. With help from the global community, we can transform the toxic desert into a green blanket of saxaul trees,” said Farida Ahmatiy, the Accelerator Lab’s Head of Solutions Mapping.
The initiative is part of a broader effort to address inter-connected issues in the Aral Sea region. The approach is outlined in the Concept of Transforming the Aral Sea Region with Ecological Innovations and Technologies, which is being implemented in partnership with UNDP Uzbekistan.
“We’re providing platform and tools for “joined-up” efforts. By aligning forces, we act in a way that not only assures partners are contributing creatively in specific areas, but that the individual contributions are greater than the sum of its parts.” said UNDP Resident Representative Matilda Dimovska.
To support this initiative, please visit the GreenAralSea.org website. You can learn more and to donate in US dollars or Uzbek soums on the website – every dollar or 10,000 soums donated will plant a saxaul tree.