§ Angus Robertson
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much money(a) his Department and (b) other Departments of the Government (i) have pledged and (ii) provided to the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFSAS) since its inception; and if he will make a statement. 653W
Mr. Gareth Thomas
The Governments of Central Asia established the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) in the early nineties; an interstate mechanism for developing and centrally funding regional environmental and research activity aimed at improving the environmental situation in the Aral Sea region. Although the established mechanism provides for an operational framework to generate international assistance, in practice the IFAS has failed to become a functioning institution with a strong regional environmental remit. The failure is attributed to a number of factors but chiefly by the general lack of enthusiasm by the governments in the region to cooperate on practical issues.
A $12 million Water and Environmental Management Project financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), managed by an Executing Agency of IFAS, has a component to develop longer term, sustainable regional and national water management strategies; to replace the current system of annual ad hoc water allocation and distribution arrangements which is slowly breaking down. This strategy will help to develop strategic choices at the river basin level such as water allocation between and within the five states, cost sharing for operations, maintenance, rehabilitation and improvement of the existing infrastructure. The UK contrilbutes to the GEF and last year DFID provided an additional contribution of £15 million to the third replenishment.