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News: April 2007

WORKSHOP ON PREPARATION OF NATIONAL FOREST PROGRAM HELD FOR PUBLIC ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS

Forest conservation and aforestation is a priority task in all the world. Forests are essential for sustainable development of a country, improvement of environmental situation and increased livelihood of local communities. Forests provide woods, wood fuel and is a habitat for numerous animals, plants and support mind and physical health of people.

The issues on conservation of forests and aforestation were the main topics of the workshop organized by the Chief Forestry Office and held on 16 April.

The workshop discussed different structures', organizations' and groups' effect on the state of affairs in forestry management area. There were also made proposals of public organizations on the priority tasks for the National Forest Program.

In June 2006 Uzbekistan started development of the National Forest Program and forest legislation. This project was approved and implemented with the support of FAO. The objectives of the project were to develop national forest program and review forest legislation to improve sustainable use and conservation of countrys natural resources. National program will be developed with account of changing needs of civil population, national and international development.

This project is expected to help in adopting measures, which will contribute to the use of innovative approaches to forest management by involving of local communities and other stakeholders. These approaches will also help improve sustainable forests development and management in the country by contributing to agricultural development and higher level of living standards of the population at the same time.

Source: CARNet Press Cervice, 17.04.2007

TURKMENISTAN ON THE THRESHOLD OF CHANGE

The first days following Saparmurat Niyazov's death saw DO significant events in Turkmenbashi's empire. The country mourned for seven days and then life returned to normal. The provisional government, led by Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, permitted Turkmen citizens to celebrate the Muslim festival of Kurban-bairam and the New Year. Now, however, the country is in a buzz, and the source of this sudden euphoria? The promises made by the presidential candidates.

From the first few days of 2007, Turkmenistan has been busy preparing for the February 11 election. The electoral committee has set out the rules for the financing and conduct of the election campaign and each candidate will receive an equal share of money from the governmental budget.

The six candidates have already held their first meetings with their voters. Berdymukhammedov's provisional government has promised reforms in almost every sphere of economic and social affairs. Berdymukhammedov has promised that if he is elected, healthcare, education, pensions, agriculture and housing will be fundamentally reformed. He says job creation, the development of small and medium enterprise and support for private business are amongst his priorities.

In 1993, Saparmurat Niyazov carried out educational reforms in Turkmenistan that shortened the school program to nine years, and university to four, of which two were spent doing work experience in businesses and firms. The curriculum was reduced to the extent that many core subjects were removed entirely. The number of places in higher education was slashed by 80 percent and evening and distance learning were abolished. Two years ago, foreign diplomas, with the exception of the Ukraine's, with which Turkmenistan has an intergovernmental agreement for mutual recognition of educational certificates, and a few higher education institutions in China, Turkey and Malaysia, lost their validity in the country. Many international organizations have predicted a humanitarian disaster if Turkmenistan's current education climate continues.

Berdymukhammedov has promised that the educational system will be examined in depth if he becomes president. "We will increase the length of study in our schools to 10 years, and our school leaving certificate will be recognized by every government in the world," he told voters.

Acting President Berdymukhammedov says job creation, the development of small and medium enterprise and support for private businesses are amongst his priorities

"The most talented school leavers will be sent to study in the USA, developed European countries, and also to China and Japan. We will ensure that students follow a complete course in every discipline at higher education establishments and that Turkmen education is recognized in every country in the world," he said. He also promised to increase the number of universities and institutes and to attract foreign teachers.

Currently the Turkmen government holds a monopoly on the Internet. Because of this, only a few thousand citizens have access. Berdymukhammedov has promised that more attention will be paid to telecommunications if Turkmen voters give him the mandate to rule. "The World Wide Web and new communications technology must be available to every citizen of Turkmenistan," he said.

Pension reforms have also been promised if the provisional leader, and favorite in the election contest, is voted president. Berdymukhammedov said he will revise pensions and other welfare payments to improve the quality of life for retired people and the needy.

Neither has Berdymukhammedov shied away from the problems facing the country's army. The election's front-runner has announced that the armed forces' material-technological base will be fundamentally improved. Turkmenistan will purchase the latest technology and essential equipment from abroad and soldiers will be provided with good food and warm clothes, he said, promising that the "Defenders of the Fatherland will want for nothing".

In a meeting with voters in the city of Turkmenbashi on the Caspian coast, Berdymukhammedov promised concerted efforts in the fight against drugs.

Apart from his pledge to deal with the country's social, telecommunications and transport problems, he also announced plans to renew the Caspian coastline and establish a powerful tourist industry in the region. Environmental protection is also a concern, he said.

The campaign promises of the other five presidential candidates, who until recently were little-known mid-level leaders, are so similar that it is difficult to characterize them in any way.

There are, however, a few minor differences: Mukhammetnazar Gurbanov, the hakim (governor) of Karabekaul district in Lebap Oblast, lays emphasis on studying the virgin lands. The hakim of Turkmenbashi city, Ashirnyaz Pommanov, has promised to develop sports in the country. His priority, however, is the development of mobile communications. Mobile penetration in Turkmenistan is just 2.2 percent, according to data recently published by the Russian firm IKS-Consulting. This is the twelfth and lowest in the CIS.

According to the Ashgabat mobile phone company BCTI, only 150,000 Turkmen out of a population of seven million use mobiles. Orazmyrat Garadzhayev, the hakim of Abadan, has promised to make real efforts to raise the level of culture as well as to improve amenities in urban areas. Ishanguly Nuryev, the acting Minister of Oil and Gas Industries and Mineral Resources, has promised to raise "a generation of young people brought up on the principles of Ruhnama" (Turkmenbashi's spiritual guide) and to increase oil and gas production and actively promote Turkmenistan's energy industry on the international market.

All of the presidential candidates have vowed to strictly follow the course set out by the Great Turkmenbashi

Each candidate vowed at The inning of his campaign speech to strictly follow the course set out by the Great Chief. However, the promises outlined in the fields of culture, education, youth upbringing, pensions, agriculture, science, technology, attracting investment welfare payments for families with many children and many others do more to contradict the former leader's policies.

The electoral promises to improve the lives of Turkmen indirectly reveal the disastrous state, in which the country's most important spheres of society and government are in, after a decade and a half of Turkmenbashi's rule.

However, no one has so far hinted at changing the government's isolationist policies, or getting rid of the list of people without the right to travel.

There has also been no mention of increasing civil liberties, establishing an independent media or reforming visa regulations with other CIS countries. And though the candidates have declared an "open door" policy, its essence remains a mystery.

But the trusting Turkmen people are sighing with relief. A new government is promising a new life.

Source: The Times of Central Asia, 17.04.2007

UZBEKISTAN TO SEEK INVESTMENT TO REDUCE POLLUTION

The President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov has signed a resolution on implementing the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which will allow the country to attract investment for projects aimed at limiting and decreasing pollution. Uzbekistan ratified the Kyoto Protocol (KP) Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) in August 1999.

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is designed to make it easier and cheaper for industrialized countries to meet the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets that they agreed to under the Protocol.

The CDM is also used to assist developing countries in achieving sustainable development.

Source: The Times of Central Asia, 17.04.2007

KAZAKH GDP EXPECTED UP TO USD 300 BLN BY 2015: VICE PRIME MINISTER

Kazakhstan's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to grow up to USD 300 bln by 2015, Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Economy and Budget Planning of Kazakhstan Aslan Musin said during the governmental session in Astana.

The volume of the investments should hit USD 127 bln during the next eight years or USD 15 bln per year, therefore, the economic growth should make 15 per cent at least, A. Musin said.

According to Minister, the volume of oil production, industrial output and external trade should increase twofold by 2015.

As stated there, it will let Kazakhstan enter into the 50 most developed countries of the world.

D. Yermaganbetova

Source: KAZINFORM, 17.04.2007