Tajik President Emomali Rahmon will head to Turkmenistan tomorrow to participate in a summit of founders of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS), a source in the Tajik government told Asia-Plus in an interview.  

According to him, issues related to cooperation between Central Asia’s nations on improvement of environmental situation of the Aral Sea under conditions of global climate change have been tabled to the agenda of the meeting that twill take place in Turkmenbashi. 

The summit is expected to result in adoption by the IFAS Council of Heads of State of a joint communiqué, the source added.  

Rahmon is expected to hold  a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the IFAS summit.

Established in 1993 by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, IFAS aims to finance joint projects and programs to save the Aral Sea and improve the environmental situation in the Aral Sea region.

 Formerly one of the four largest lakes in the world with an area of 68,000 square kilometers, the Aral Sea has been shrinking since the 1960s after the rivers that fed it were diverted by Soviet irrigation projects.

By 1997, it had declined to 10% of its original size, splitting into four lakes – the North Aral Sea, the eastern and western basins of the once far larger South Aral Sea, and one smaller intermediate lake.  By 2009, the southeastern lake had disappeared and the southwestern lake had retreated to a thin strip at the western edge of the former southern sea; in subsequent years, occasional water flows have led to the southeastern lake sometimes being replenished to a small degree.  Satellite images taken by NASA in August 2014 revealed that for the first time in modern history the eastern basin of the Aral Sea had completely dried up.  The eastern basin is now called the Aralkum Desert.