World's 4th largest lake turns to dangerous salt desert. - 26 Nov 2010  
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Historical efforts by the former Soviet Union to create self-sufficiency in the cotton trade resulted in the unfortunate draining of rivers that replenished the Aral Sea, which was once a scenic nature area and one of the largest inland lakes in the world.

The lake region, which is now part of modern day Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, has dried up to become a dangerous salt desert, with chemical pollutants from pesticides used on the cotton plants that have poisoned plants and animals native to the area.

Illness has also afflicted nearby human residents who breathe the toxic salty dust, with diagnoses that include medication-resistant tuberculosis requiring hospitals with special rehabilitation wards to be set up for those affected.

local resident, speaking Russian (F) : New diseases emerged, especially respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. I think the environment everywhere is not good. There are already sick children here.

Medet Ospanov, International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, speaking Russian  :Now the Fresh Water Project solves many issues. When possible, they run tap water pipes to the villages, and for distant villages they create local water pipe systems.

Efforts by groups such as the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea as well as others who have built small dams to help re-irrigate the desert are helping make small steps toward the area’s recovery.

We are saddened to know of the dire effects on both nature and human health in the region of the now-former Aral Sea. With Heaven’s grace, may such barren and toxic areas be restored to their original flourishing beauty through our urgent efforts to respect and renew nature’s balance.