The Aral Sea is back

aral_sea.jpgSometimes, among the daily bad news, reasons to hope afloat. For instance today, the fact that the Aral sea is back after having been emptied by years of folly.

This news were brought to me by the French daily Le Monde, a local paper called the Concord Monitor and the World Bank.

This is indeed good news. We will see here the reasons for the disappearance of the sea, why it is coming back and what are the repercussions of such an event.

At some point, the Aral sea had lost half of its original size, and this because of the massive irrigation of the rivers that progressively emptied them, and thus, the sea where the water was going into.

This was done in the 1950s by the Sovietic Union which wanted to irrigate thousands of acres of cotton fields in Kazakhstan. As a result, by 1979, a huge part of the Aral Sea was dry. This was one of the worst ecological disasters and according to the World Bank, a proof of humankind’s folly.

But, now, the Aral Sea is coming back. This quasi miracle is due to the local people, that gave one little percent of their revenue to make this sea back. The World Bank also contributed to the success of the operation by giving 85 million US Dollars.

All this money was used in order to build a dam that would stop the sea from emptying.

aral_sea1.jpgAfter ten years, the first results are appearing, and the fishers that went away, with or without their families, are back.

Schools are reopening and life, simple life, comes back in what was promised to become a desert and a wasteland.

But however, the irrigation that caused the catastrophe has been improved and continues, thus enabling the fields to keep sufficent water to grow plants.

But one needs to be realistic about some facts, as not all the original Aral Sea will come back. Indeed, the World Bank states the following :

Joop Stoutjesdijk, lead irrigation engineer at the World Bank, offers a similar view: “We have shown that even the worst environmental disaster can be reversed, somewhat.

But we need to be realistic. Even if we dream of the whole Aral Sea, it can’t come back. There are in fact three seas now. In 1990, the relentless creep of sand cut the Aral into northern and southern parts, the “Lesser” and “Greater” seas.

In 2003, with water levels still falling, the southern part split again, into two basins that in satellite photos look like a pair of atrophied lungs.

Le Monde, at the end of this article states that environmental catastrophes can be reversed if there is the will to act in consequence. This example perfectly shows that local work and money alongside with some help from the World Bank can achieve great things.

The first image is coming from the Wikipedia article on the Aral Sea, the second from the article by Le Monde. ( photo coming from R.I.A. NOVOSTI )

Sources used for this article :

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