In October 2020, a number of environmental events were held in the Surkhandarya, Kashkadarya, and Khorezm regions within the UzWaterAware project funded by the European Union and implemented by CAREC. The events were organized during the final visits of the project to the regions of Uzbekistan with the support of the regional and city administrations, as well as a project’s partners – the Yuksalish National Movement, the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan, and Khorezm Rural Advisory Support Service (NGO KRASS).
More than ten schools, 380 children, and 100 teachers in Surkhandarya, Kashkadarya, and Khorezm regions participated in water-saving eco-lessons. The project focused on an easy and colorful presentation of information about water resources, demonstrating educational videos designed for children and adults at each event. Each of the five videos, presented in the format of a full eco-lesson, reveals various topics of water resources and the importance of their efficient use.
Besides, the children’s book “Good knowledge of precious water” was presented in Russian and Uzbek languages during the visits for use by teachers and parents as additional teaching material for children about water and its saving. It is important to emphasize that at the request of the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan, this book was translated into Karakalpak language and submitted to the Ministry of Public Education of the Republic of Karakalpakstan in the amount of 5,000 copies for further distribution in district schools.
Within these regional events with the support of NGO partners, meetings were organized with representatives of water-ecological non-governmental organizations, local authorities, mahallas, public activists, as well as employees of the services for improvement and landscaping of cities, and youth organizations. Also, a master class was organized in Urgench city on using water-saving hydrogel technology in planting trees and plants with weather conditions and soil types as in the Khorezm region. It should be noted that the planting trees campaign under the UzWaterAware project will be held in Urgench in early November 2020 with favorable weather conditions.
Taking into account the situation with novel coronavirus in the country and the world, the project and partners took all measures to comply with the sanitary and epidemiological requirements. Besides, the participants in all environmental activities in the Khorezm region were provided with personal protective equipment like masks and antiseptics, as well as special colorful leaflets for children and adults. Within these events, in total, 7 000 masks, antiseptics, and leaflets on protection against coronavirus were handed over to the Republic of Karakalpakstan (October 2-3), Surkhandarya (October 8-9), and Khorezm regions (October 14-15).
Furthermore, on October 15, a grand opening ceremony of the sculpture took place in the park of Urgench. The sculpture became a winner in a unique creative socially-oriented contest of sketches and sculptures on the theme “Symbol of water and life”. Welcoming speeches were given by Mr. Ravshan Khudaibergenov, Advisor on the State Language of the khokim of Khorezm region, Mr. François Begeot, Head of Cooperation Department of the European Union Delegation to Uzbekistan, Ms. Shahnoza Umarova, Director of CAREC Branch Office in Uzbekistan and the UzWaterAware Project Manager. The opening ceremony was also attended by representatives of the Ministry of Water Resources, NGO KRASS, the rectorate of the Behzad Institute, and the winner of the project competition, as well as Tashkent and local media.
“We are very glad that such a sculpture is installed in Urgench city. After all, the issue of conservation, efficient use, and protection of water resources is very important and relevant to the entire world community today. It is said that water is a source of life. Indeed, the existence of every person, animal, or plant depends on water. By treating water with care, we contribute to our future and that of our children. It is the duty of each of us to save water, use it wisely, and pass it on to the younger generation,” said Ravshan Khudaibergenov during the sculpture opening ceremony.
The contest was first announced on March 22, 2018, and ended in the fall of 2019. The participants of the contest became teachers, students, and pupils of the National Institute of Arts and Design named after Bekhzad, as well as the Republican Specialized Boarding School of Arts and the Republican Specialized School of Arts named after Benkov, representing Andijan, Bukhara, Djizakh, Kashkadarya, Namangan, Samarkand, Tashkent, and Fergana regions. About 60 works sent by the contest participants reflect the value and role of water in people’s lives; several works were dedicated to the Aral Sea and the Aral region.
“I am very pleased to be with you, unfortunately by video, to celebrate a very nice sculpture made by Mr. Yakubzhanov and representing a family. I think this is a very nice symbol because water is the topic of everyone. Every one of us should understand now that the contribution to the environment is not only an affair of society; it is an affair of the behavior of each of us. Therefore, I am sure that you will agree with me that we have to make an effort to protect water resources but, generally, we support behavior to protect air, biodiversity, forests, and have it at an individual level and equal responsible behavior. We need really to take advantage of our understanding of our environment, and we need therefore to respect it, believe in it, and, therefore, protect it,” said Mr. François Begeot in a video message.
As a result of the contest, a jury session was held with the participation of representatives of the Ministry of Water Resources of Uzbekistan (national partner of the project), State Committee on Ecology and Environmental protection of Uzbekistan, Ecological Party of Uzbekistan, UzA News Agency, UzDaily.com, and CAREC. The best 9 works were selected in three age categories (schoolchildren, students, teachers). The main selection criterion was the most interesting, creative, and informative reflection of the importance of water resources for human life and the environment in general.
“The sculpture of one of the winners, Mr. Khaitmirza Yakubzhanov, a graduate student of the Kamallitdin Behzad National Institute of Arts and Design, is inspired by the slogan of the UzWaterAware project: “Respecting water, we respect the future of our children.” It reminds us that water is life. People’s silhouettes represent a family – a father, a mother, and a child, growing up and aspiring to the future. The image of the family reminds us of the flow of water – its curves, smoothness, energyб and integrity,” said Ms. Shakhnoza Umarova.
It should be reminded that the project “Raising Awareness and Partnership for Sustainable Water and Environment Development in Uzbekistan. Component 3” (or UzWaterAware) has been implemented by CAREC with financial support of the European Union since 2016 and is part of the “Sustainable Management of Water Resources in Rural Uzbekistan” Programme. The national partner of the project is the Ministry of Water Resources of Uzbekistan. UzWaterAware has become one of the projects which managed to draw attention to water and environmental problems in the country and in partnership with government agencies, NGOs, and the media to carry out large-scale work with the population.