The drying up of the Aral Sea is one of the greatest man-made disasters. The fallout crosses national borders to affect millions living in the region and, ever evolving, the Aral Sea crisis has led to land degradation and desertification, a shortage of drinking water, malnutrition, deterioration of health and quality of life indicators for local populations. The epicentre of the crisis is in the Republic of Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan.
The Multi-Partner Human Security Trust Fund for the Aral Sea Region in Uzbekistan (MPHSTF) is a transformative, evidence, and human rights-based mechanism that focuses on multi-sector and people-centered responses. Fund stakeholders work closely together on coherent strategies that improve the flow and coordination of financial assistance, increase government ownership, and generate sustainable results.
Theory of change
A human security approach is used to analyze and plan interventions that are contextually relevant and centered on vulnerable communities. Using a multi-sectorial lens, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNODC, UNESCO, and FAO collaborate closely with the Government of Uzbekistan and local partners on programme activities comprised of holistic interventions that are people centered, comprehensive,context-specific, and prevention oriented. The theory of change is comprised of six clusters that serve as the foundation for Fund initiatives:
- Environmental insecurity associated with the deterioration land and water resources, toxic dust from dried seabeds, high levels of soil salinity, and poor and irregular water supplies.
- Economic insecurity characterized by limited formal employment possibilities and a lack of other income-generating opportunities. Low investment in infrastructure and private sector development negatively contribute to the situation.
- Food insecurity indicated by the poor availability of basic foodstuffs, deteriorating state of irrigated land and water resources, and lack of safe drinking water.
- Health insecurity characterized by malnutrition, environmental hazards (e.g. dust storms or insufficient supply of pharmaceuticals), a lack of qualified physicians, isolated populations, or poor awareness of health practices.
- Social insecurity marked by poor living conditions and lack of municipal services, which disproportionately affect women and children. Low quality of accessible schools and education facilities, plus high construction costs.
- Ineffective donor assistance and uncoordinated efforts causes duplication of efforts, while the insufficient prioritization of the Aral Sea region leads to limited contributions. The situation is exacerbated by the lack of an overall strategy and consolidated database of development interventions.
By using a layered approach MPHSTF stakeholders can roll-out transformative, inclusive, evidence and human rights-based solutions. The first areas of focus include employment generation, natural resource management, improved social services in health and education, empowerment of women and girls, support to women in difficult conditions, and good governance through participatory planning and implementation.