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Kazakhstan, the ninth-largest country by land area in the world, emerged as an independent nation in 1991 following the dissolution of the USSR (World Bank, 2021). The repercussions of its Soviet past echo across various dimensions – environmental, socio-cultural, and economic. Similar legacies are shared by its Central Asian counterparts: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
One of the most pronounced environmental challenges confronting the region is the depletion of the Aral Sea. Historically ranked as the world's fourth-largest lake, the Aral Sea has lost approximately 90% of its water volume primarily due to unsustainable irrigation projects initiated in the 1960s (UNDP, 2019). Spanning Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, this vital water body was a beacon of ecological diversity and held profound significance in Central Asian cultural narratives.
In response to the multifaceted challenges and the pressing need for global awareness about Central Asia's unique tapestry of culture and environment, the SeeAralSea initiative was created. This student-led organization has articulated the following strategic objectives:
Promoting awareness about Central Asia's intricate confluence of environment and culture using diverse artistic mediums.
Crafting and disseminating educational content in both English and the regional languages of Central Asia.
Broadcasting Central Asia's rich cultural traditions, thereby facilitating a deeper global appreciation.
Enhancing Central Asia's visibility on the international stage, spotlighting both its cultural wealth and ecological urgencies.
The name SeeAralSea is emblematic. It serves as an invitation to the global populace to immerse in the beauty, history, and challenges of Central Asia.
A testament to the resonance of its mission, SeeAralSea has successfully engaged individuals from all five Central Asian countries. An upcoming milestone is the launch of the Read&SeeAralSea online magazine. The inaugural issue is poised to feature 20 diverse articles, each offering a window into Central Asia's multifaceted landscape.
Central Asia, with its vibrant heritage and pressing challenges, beckons global engagement. Initiatives like SeeAralSea stand at the forefront of this advocacy.
Check out the first issue of the Read&SeeAralSea magazine here.
World Bank. (2021). Countries and Economies: Kazakhstan. Retrieved from World Bank website.
UNDP. (2019). Aral Sea: Big Challenges, Bigger Opportunities. Retrieved from UNDP website.