International Development Organizations Get Together to Jointly Address the Ili-Balkhash Basin Issues

19 April 2007

On April 5, 2007 international development organizations including the OSCE Centre in Almaty, the Delegation of the European Commission in the Republic of Kazakhstan, World Bank, UNESCO and Central Asian Regional Environmental Centre (CAREC) held a meeting on coordinating their activities on Ili-Balkhash Basin (IBB) in the UNESCO office in Almaty.

The current ecological balance of the Ili-Balkhash basin is affected by uncontrolled water consumption and pollution from industries and agricultural run off. The Lake itself faces partial disappearance due to unlimited water abstractions from the Ili River for growing industrial, agricultural, and other needs. Also, there are concerns about the quality of the water. In addition, the economic and environmental problems have resulted in social problems, lower standards of living and relatively high unemployment in the region.

International development organizations have been funding and implementing a number of various environmental activities in the region particularly relating to water management in the Central Asian Region:

The Delegation of the EC is financing a project "Support to Kazakhstan in Development of Ili-Balkhash Basin Integrated Management Plan". This project is being implemented by CAREC.

UNESCO under its International Hydrological Programme is implementing a research and capacity building programme on the effect of glacier retreating in the mountain ranges of Central Asia and its relevance to water shortages in the lowlands.

The World Bank has been funding a number of programs relating to water management in Kazakhstan such as Nura River clean-up and Syr-Darya River Control and Northern Aral Sea projects.

The OSCE Centre has been implementing a number of awareness raising campaigns on the ecosystems deterioration of the Balkhash Lake. The utmost efforts were given by the OSCE Centre to the issues of transboundary water management between the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic for the past years. These efforts nowadays are being further promoted by the Spanish Chairmanship in the OSCE, which identified water management, land degradation and soil contamination as key priorities for 2007.

At the meeting parties have agreed on joining their efforts for cooperatively addressing the IBB issue by building on individual technical knowledge and expertise, best practices in relevant fields and other resources. It has been also decided to organize this kind of meetings on a regular basis.

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