World Bank to allocate $38mn to Central Asian countries for Aral Sea climate change programme

World Bank to allocate $38mn to Central Asian countries for Aral Sea climate change programme
By bne IntelliNews November 9, 2015

The World Bank’s (WB) International Development Association (IDA) will allocate $38mn to Central Asian countries and organisations in order to finance the first phase of the Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Programme for the Aral Sea Basin, the WB said in a statement on November 4.

Central Asia is likely to experience more intense warming than the global average in the 21st century - in a scenario, where the world grows 4°C warmer, the temperature in the region would grow 7°C, the statement said. The region’s glaciers, which account today for 10% of the annual streamflow in the Amu Darya and Syr Darya basins, have already shrunk by one-third in volume since the beginning of the 20th century and are projected shrink further by 50% to 75% as the world grows warmer, according to the statement. Climate variability and change in Central Asia will impact key economic sectors, such as agriculture, energy and water, putting at risk the livelihoods of rural populations, which account for 50% to 75% of the populations in the region.

The programme will strengthen the knowledge and information base on climate change risks and provide financing and technical assistance to rural communities. The financing and assistance will address current threats to agricultural production and rural livelihoods, stemming from climate risks such as droughts and weather extremes, as well as support climate-smart investment in sectoral areas considered as priorities in the Central Asian countries. An integrated analytical system with improved data, information, and tools on climate change will be available to all countries of the region to inform policies and prioritisation of climate-smart investment. It is expected that these projects will benefit 240,000 people in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan under the first phase of the programme.

“This regional programme offers a unique platform in the region with explicit mandate to support regional cooperation on climate change across a broad range of sectors. Given inherent connections in agriculture, energy, land, and water systems as well as similarities in climate change challenges across countries of Central Asia, a coordinated and integrated approach toward climate change is key to effectively mitigate risks and to strengthen climate resilience,” Saroj Kumar Jha, regional director of the World Bank for Central Asia, said.

From the total funding, $15mn will go to regional activities to be implemented by the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (EC-IFAS), an organisation encompassing all five Central Asian countries, with support from the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC). From the remaining amount, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan will receive $14mn and $9mn respectively.