International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network
IW:Learn

Aral Sea - Results

GEF IDS: 73

Lake

Regional

World Bank Terminal Evaluation (2004)

-

Results data
Restored habitat, including wetlands
Value: 40000 ha
The restoration of Lake Sudoche (a 40,000 ha. delta wetland that lost its regular source of replenishment) appears to have fully met its biodiversity and social/economic targets. Comprehensive ecological and socio-economic monitoring was well managed. The wetland attracts various birds, some of which are classified as endangered species from the International Red Book. The littoral area and area regularly flooded are highly productive (5 to 10 times higher than the dry land) and used as pasture for livestock. Further, the local population sees the lake as a main source of fish, which meet about 40% of the local population’s protein requirements. The component was successful in restoring biodiversity, managing natural resources, and protecting the contiguous area from dust and salt storms. Economic benefits were also gained as the local population is able to use the restored area for fishing, hunting and grazing. The component provided a model for improving the environment and biodiversity in the deltas by mixing drainage water with high salinity content with fresh water (when rivers have a surplus); further monitoring of the lake over several years is necessary to fully assess the project’s impact. The Government of Uzbekistan decided to continue the program of wetland restoration in the Amu Darya delta and has three new projects underway (others are also being planned), reportedly following Lake Sudoche standards. Restoring more wetlands in the Amu Darya delta is included in the Uzbekistan Drainage, Irrigation and Wetlands Project. In Kazakhstan, restoration of the Northern Aral Sea and Syr Darya delta lakes is now proceeding under the SYNAS Project.
Development of Strategic Action Program (SAP)
Value: NO
Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis: Agreement on transboundary priorities and root causes
Value: NO
Regional Management Institutions
Value: NO
Build the capacity of regional institutions: The WEMP, and the ASBP more broadly, have not been successful in achieving this objective. At the time of appraisal both EC-IFAS the regional body for coordinating the ASBP, and the project management unit of the WEMP, were in Tashkent. Senior Uzbek experts played a key role in both, and experts from other countries played a lesser role; but, EC-IFAS was designed with a rotating presidency. In 1999 this was moved to Ashgabat while the PMU and most expertise remained in Tashkent. EC-IFAS was greatly weakened. Furthermore, support to EC-IFAS by UNDP and EU-TACIS ceased in 2000. In 2002 the presidency was moved to Dushanbe and under Tajik leadership, EC-IFAS has revived its coordination and advocacy role. However, Uzbek and Turkmen support has been limited, and the donor support to EC-IFAS is much more limited than in the late 90s.
Regional legal agreements and cooperation frameworks
Value: NO
(c) Improve the management of international waters: the strategic studies supported under WEMP demonstrated that the principal water management problems of the basin are not due to management and allocation tensions at regional level. They are due to deteriorating irrigation and drainage infrastructure and poor water management at national level, principally within the two countries which comprise 75% of water use within the basin, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Furthermore, when there have been transboundary difficulties, these have generally been at a bilateral or sub-basin level. The Central Asian Countries' focus during the project period shifted from the Sea to the upper river basins and from regional to national issues. In the Syr Darya basin, the energy-irrigation uses emerged as major issues and the countries made several agreements to address them. In the Amu Darya basin, energy-irrigation issues were
less severe. While bilateral disputes over water have continued between some of the basin states, they have not erupted into actual conflicts. Cooperation among these states is comparable to that in other river basins in the world. The IFAS/ICWC (International Fund for Aral Sea/Interstate Commission for Water Coordination) mechanism and the project activities, which encouraged information sharing and common solutions, can take some credit for this.
A bilateral agreement between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in 1996 clarified the sharing arrangements of Amu Darya waters downstream of Kerki, and has mostly worked without major dispute, although water shortages during the drought years have severely affected Karakalpakstan. The primary purpose of the
1996 agreement was to specify conditions for management of the irrigation and drainage facilities crossing the territories of the two countries and to define mechanisms for resolving problems. Issues related to major investments for rehabilitating the Karshi Pumping Cascade, crossing the two countries, remained
unresolved. The project provided the technical and analytical bases for improving water resources management and allocations among riparian states and sectors. Awareness of dam safety was introduced, which led to new investments to improve overall water management in the basin. Better records of water flows will be available for planning water resources, as well monitoring and management. Wetlands restoration provided a practical model for addressing the environmental degradation problems around the Aral Sea. These physical models of improved water management are being widely replicated in the basin. Thus in terms of physical outcomes and their sustainability, this project may be rated satisfactory.