A feel good story from 2016 that you might have missed!
The Aral Sea, which lies between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, was once the planet’s fourth largest freshwater lake. But in the decades since the 1960s it became blasted and dry. Nikita Khrushchev began a project that saw its two main tributaries, the Syr Darya and Amu Darya, diverted during the 1960s. While nearby arable land expanded, the sea shrank. The local fishing industry almost vanished.
But now, there are signs that the Aral is returning. An Al Jazeera reporter at the old port of Aralsk, near the northern part of the sea, found this July that fish production at the port has grown from 600 tonnes in 1996 to 7,200 tonnes. The nearby village of Tastubek, over 49 miles away from the sea-line in 2010, is now only 12 miles from the water.
THANKS TO WORLD BANK
It’s all thanks to the World Bank-funded Kok-Aral Dam, completed in August 2005 that is finally starting to pay dividends. The dam separated the northern and southern parts of the sea, in order to divert water back into the desolate north. A second phase of the project is planned, which should bring the water right back up to Aralsk. There’s some way to go. But looking from the old fishing towns of the northern Aral, the waves are on the horizon.