Ecological and economic development of the Aral Sea region

Project description

Title: Ecologically oriented regional development in the Aral Sea region
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources of the Republic of Uzbekistan and Ministry for Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Overall term: 2020 to 2024

Fischerboot im ausgetrockneten Aralsee Boden


Within four decades (1980–2019), the average annual temperature in the Aral Sea region has risen by approximately 1.27 degrees Celsius, with much higher temperatures and less precipitation in the summer. Nevertheless, the majority of the rural population still makes a living from irrigated farming, although the overuse of soil and water is leading to increasingly poor conditions. As a result, the Aral Sea is steadily drying out. 

In addition, large parts of the rural population in the Aral Sea region have barely profited from the general economic growth of the past four years. In Uzbekistan, this amounted to around five per cent annually, while the figure in Kazakhstan was approximately four per cent. There are considerable disparities in prosperity between urban and rural areas as well as between the regions. 

The two countries therefore want to place their economies on a broader footing. This is to be made possible through infrastructure development, innovation promotion and economic liberalisation as well as by scaling back subsidies for water-intense crops. Despite this, it remains difficult for land users to create viable alternatives to their traditional, water-intensive cultivation methods. Disregard of ecological aspects and little cross-border cooperation is threatening the sustainable environmental and economic development of the Aral Sea region. 


The governments of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan improve cross-border, ecologically sustainable and economic development of the Aral Sea region.

Satellitenaufnahme der Aralsee Region


The project adopts an integrated approach to the economic development of the Aral Sea region. The approach takes environmental sustainability into account and involves the population in economic development and the long-term securing of their livelihoods. In the process, economic growth in the region is to be promoted and, at the same time, negative synergies in the environmental and social context minimised. 

The primary focus of the project is on capacity-building measures for employees of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises as well as ministries and state agencies, with the aim of enabling them to make climate-adapted and ecologically oriented investment decisions. State-of-the-art satellite technology and images support the agricultural, forestry and water sectors, resulting in new opportunities for regional spatial planning. With the aid of remote sensing techniques, for example, environment or climate-related production risks or cases of damage can be recognised and secured at an early stage.

The project’s measures directly and indirectly impact the two million people who live around the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

Partner organisations of the project are regional administrations in Karakalpakstan as well as in Chorasmia, Qyzylorda and Mangystau, national authorities and ministries of the two countries, and regional sectoral authorities in the Aral Sea region.

Last Update: January 2021