EIB, Uzbekistan plan for two-part investment program for Aral Sea (Exclusive)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct. 14

By Fakhri Vakilov - Trend:

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) paving the way for a 100 million euros investment program designed to join international efforts to recover the Aral Sea, representative of EIB told Trend in an interview.

"The EIB financing will also allow Uzbekistan to stop further environmental damage in the Aral Sea Region, mitigate and alleviate the negative climate, environmental, economic and social effect of extensive and inadequate irrigation in the Uzbekistani part of the Aral Sea basin," the official added.

Under the signed MoU, the EIB and Uzbekistan plan for a two-part investment program for the Aral Sea. The first part will see the rehabilitation and modernization of the obsolete irrigation systems in the Amu Darya river valley, a major water contributor to the Aral Sea.

"This would, among other measures, allow formation of water reservoirs to save water. The second part will allow for recovery of agricultural land in the area, degraded over decades by saline intrusion, and now covered in salt because of decades of inadequate, Soviet-style irrigation system usage," the representative said.

The official added that the two measures described above will reduce the amount of water currently drawn from the Amu Darya River for irrigation and allow the river to contribute more water to the Aral Sea.

The signed MoU paves way for the EIB and the Government of Uzbekistan to work towards improving environmental and economic conditions for communities in the Amu Darya river valley in the Uzbek region of Karakalpakstan.

"If this program proves to be a success, the two-part program described above might be repeated and replicated further upstream the Amu Darya river, beyond the region of Karakalpakstan," the official stated.

EIB welcomes the establishment the United Nations Multi-Partner Human Security Trust Fund for the Aral Sea Region (MPHSTF), set up jointly by the UN and Uzbekistan as a valuable contribution to the effort to restore the Aral Sea through creation of a coordination framework managing the aid flow in the region.

"We are looking closely at the efforts of Uzbekistan’s Government, initiated by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, to mitigate the severe impact of the Aral Sea disappearance and improve environmental and socio-economic conditions of the people living in the area, looking for opportunities to cooperate further on these key issues for Uzbekistan, Central Asia and the world," the representative stressed.

The official noted that EIB is currently appraising the Uzbekistan District Heating Loan. The project will support an investment program to improve quality and reliability of hot water and heating services in Uzbekistan while improving energy efficiency of the district heating (DH) system through the introduction of new and modern technologies.

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