DUSHANBE, June 28, 2008, Asia-Plus  -- On Friday June 27, addressing an international conference that opened in Dushanbe to discuss water-related disaster reduction risk, President Emomali Rahmon suggested that international consortium should be set up to seek long-term solutions to the potential threat that Lake Sarez could someday sweep down and put homes and people at risk over a massive area.

Underlining the importance of the conference, President Rahmon considered it extremely topical to create regional and international funds within the UN structure for rendering aid to the population in case of devastating disasters.  

“Support of poor and the poorest countries should be the main task of the second half of the International Decade for Actions ‘Water for Life,’” the Tajik leader stressed.  He reminded that Tajikistan is prone to water-related disaster since 93 percent of its territory is occupied by mountains.

“Over the last 10 years, 300 citizens of the republic have died from floods, landslides and avalanches, and material damage is estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars,” Emomali Rahmon said.

He also noted that this year’s drought has already leading to shortage of foods.

“On June 26, water inflow into the reservoir powering the Norak hydroelectric power station (HPS) was 500 cubic meters per second lower and water inflow into the Qairoqqum reservoir was 400 cubic meters per second lower compared to the June 26, 2007 level,” said the president.  “In all, water shortages have made 30%-35% of the average annual level.”

He added that because of water shortages more than 60,000 hectares of areas requiring irrigation have not been cultivated this year.

“Tajikistan proposes once again to combine efforts to seek solutions to these problems and convoke a special session of the UN General Assembly to discuss water problems,” President Rahmon said.

He also pointed to the necessity to discussing long-term solutions to the Lake Sarez and the Aral Sea problems.                        

Thus, because of unreasonable policy conducted in the 1960s-1990s an area of irrigated lands in the basin of the Aral Sea had doubled that led to considerable reduction in the area of the Aral Sea itself, the Tajik head of state said.   

Reminding that Uzbekistan currently uses 53.64 percent, Turkmenistan 20.22 percent and Kazakhstan 11.4 percent of water in the basin of the Aral Sea, Rahmon noted that all that has caused and aggravated ecological problems in the region.

He pointed to the necessity of introducing new technologies of irrigation of agricultural crops and reasonable sowing planning.

“We propose to grant to the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) a status of observer at the United Nations,” President Rahmon said. 

Dwelling on the Lake Sarez problem, Rahmon offered creation of international consortium to seek long-term solutions to the potential threat the lake in the Pamir mountain range poses to the region.  

He also proposed to hold a special conference in Dushanbe in 2010 to discuss a progress of implementation of events within the framework of International Decade for Action Water for Life 2005-2015.   

The Dushanbe conference has brought together representatives of 35 states and 28 international organizations to discuss the water-elated disaster risk reduction.