SEOUL, Dec. 17 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea pledged Thursday to provide US$1 million to a U.N. development fund to help communities near the Aral Sea suffering from decadeslong water depletion, the foreign ministry said.
Chung Kee-yong, director general for climate change, energy, environment and scientific affairs at Seoul’s foreign ministry, signed an agreement to provide the funds during a virtual meeting with Jennifer Topping, executive coordinator of the U.N. Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office, the ministry said.
Of the pledged amount, $800,000 will be provided by the year-end, with the remainder to be offered in 2021, the ministry said.
The fund for the Aral Sea was created by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) in 2018 to offer assistance to the people in the region suffering from chronic health problems due to the shortage of water and other resources.
The Aral Sea, which lies between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, was once the world’s fourth-biggest inland sea.
But excessive irrigation by the Soviet Union in the 1980s has caused the rivers to dry up and turned the area into a desert, destroying the marine life.
The region has reported a high level of infant mortality rate, malnutrition and illnesses like cancer.