In 1992, the World Bank initiated a
large program for saving the Aral Sea. Two years later (1994) this program was adopted by the five Central Asian States.
In the context of the World Bank Program 2.1 ("Hydrometeorological Services"), the Swiss Government
contributed approximately 1.8 million US dollars for a first project phase (1996-1998).
The strategic objective of the World Bank Program 2.1 was to develop a modern system for data
collection, analysis and distribution in the five hydrometeorological surveys of the region. This should
help to quantitatively and qualitatively estimate the water resources in the Aral Sea basin and,
furthermore, to better manage the distribution of water between the five states as well as to improve
the utilization for agricultural production.
The specific objective of Phase I of the Swissp
articipation was to realize a study on the situation of the hydrometeorological surveys.
This study should be the basis for specific investments during a future second phase.
Phase I was carried out in two steps: The planning phase (Step 1) focused on the definition of the basic
hydrometeorological network in cooperation with regional experts.
In this context, Swiss Aral Sea Mission (SASM) was set up as coordination office and secretariat.
Step 2 included the design and
implementation of three pilot projects, namely:
- Pilot Project 1 - Meteorological
and hydrological pilot stations for testing of Swiss equipment and for training.
- Pilot Project 2 - Implementation
of tracer hydrology (dilution method) for the determination of discharge in turbulent mountainous
- Pilot Project 3 - snowmelt runoff forecasting: implementation of a forecasting center in Tashkent
equipped with satellite image processing, geographic information and database management systems as well
as a snowmelt runoff model; training of local experts.
These pilot projects aimed at the introduction of new observation methods and technologies, at hydrometeorological forecasting,
and at the training of local experts with modern equipment based on international standards.
On the basis of the successful completion and implementation of Phase I, the Swiss Government has decided (1998)
on a follow-up program (Phase II: "Flow Forecasting and Hydrometeorological Infrastructure", i.e., Consolidation Phase),
both to secure and to consolidate the efforts of Phase I as well as to make an additional contribution
to the needs of flow forecasting and hydrometerorological data observation (1999-2002).
Furthermore, the Swiss Government has also decided (2000) to implement a Regional Center of
Hydrology and to support this center on a long-term basis (10 to 15 years).