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Kazakhstan: Aral Sea Foundation Faces Funding Shortage

By Merkhat Sharipzhan

Almaty, 21 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - The international foundation "Save the Aral" convened in the Kazakh capital Almaty yesterday with the participation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Representatives of countries involved in the project blamed a lack of finances for the failure to carry out projects in a timely and thorough fashion.

Delegates were told that only Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have invested necessary sums to the Fund of the Foundation. But two other central Asian states which however, do not border the Aral gave considerably less. Tajikistan provided one third of its original allotment and Kyrgyzstan just 17 percent.

The landlocked Aral Sea has been rapidly shrinking and suffering increased salinity of its waters due to years of siphoning off river water for irrigation purposes.

A conference of donor states held in Paris two years ago agreed to invest $31 million to the Aral Sea salvation program. So far, $13 million of that sum have been invested, of which a little over $5 million were given to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan for a program known as "Pure Water and Health."