The drying up of Aral Sea to 30% of its initial size due to an unsustainable use of natural resources e.g. heavy extraction of water for irrigation purposes has had a negative impact on the region’s economy, social sphere and livelihoods of the population. Traditionally, the Aral Sea provided both irrigation and fishing opportunities, while nowadays due to the reduced water flow, the fishing industry and related sectors are devastated, resulting in a high as ever unemployment. Basic social infrastructure is scarce in many communities, including clean water, gas and electricity. The combined impact of the above factors puts serious implications upon the health and wellbeing of the population, forcing many to relocate. Therefore, the Joint Programme will target the population of the region who now find themselves in a very difficult socio-economic conditions.
The Joint Programme is launched, and is currently in a set up phase. There has been a team of professionals recruited in Nukus, Karakalpakstan, including the area manager and team leaders in three main components of the Programme.
Programme objective 1: "Income generation opportunities and economic security for vulnerable groups in the three target districts increased" involves the following activities:
- Identification of dekhkan farmers in target communities and their further training in improved agricultural practices
- Training of veterinary service providers
- Establishment of local extension points and input providers
- Support of 100 dekhkan farmers in bringing degraded land back into productive use
- Establishment of improved pasture management practices
- Introduction of new crops and tree varieties
- Training on tourism for local youth guides
- Establishment of visitor and information centre on the base of Kazakhali yatgan archeological site in Karakalpakstan
- Developing promotional materials and website on culture and history of Karakalpakstan
The Joint Programme seeks to address the Aral Sea environmental challenge and improve the livelihoods of population through provision of access to basic infrastructure in target districts, including access to clean water and gas, providing new income generation opportunities by developing farming, local handicrafts and tourism sites. The Programme will also improve the capacities of primary healthcare facilities on reproductive health issues and raise public awareness on infectious diseases through enhancing community based voluntaryism.
- Income generation opportunities and economic security increased
- Capacity of primary healthcare workers enhanced
- Capacity of regional and three district authorities strengthened
The following approaches will be employed in order to achieve sustainability of the programme:
- Existing institutions at every level will be strengthened to fulfill their mandate and provide better services to the population.
- In regard to the improvement of livelihoods, sustainable use of land and water to improve agricultural productivity as well as food security will be promoted through the introduction of new practices, while also ensuring, that the target group develops the capacity and understanding to be able to maintain these practices. In addition, lead dekhkan extension agents and reputable supply points, will be developed to ensure that the target groups have a reference point to which they can turn to in case they need further support once the programme finishes.
- Where inputs are provided by the project a cost sharing element will always be present.
Through the mechanisms outlined above the programme will establish a real sense of ownership by the target group over the project initiatives thus ensuring the long-term sustainability.