How to combine economic efficiency with ecological sustainability in the... is the central issue addressed by an international team of... ZEF goes ahead with project in Uzbekistan

ZEF goes ahead with project in Uzbekistan
How to combine economic efficiency with ecological sustainability in the Aral Sea region
is the central issue addressed by an international team of researchers led by the Center
for Development Research (ZEF) of the University of Bonn since 2001. The Federal
German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) has now given its approval for
continuing the research project in Uzbekistan until mid 2011 and will provide funds of 5.4
million euro for this four year extension.
The interdisciplinary project „Economic and ecological restructuring in Khorezm,
Uzbekistan“ started its research in 2001 in the northwest of the country, a region
dominated by agriculture. “We are developing concepts how to make use of the natural
resources in the region in a more efficient way from an economic point of view and
simultaneously in an ecologically more sustainable manner”, says Professor Dr. Paul
Vlek, project leader and director at ZEF. “At the heart of our research efforts is the
agricultural sector, being the backbone of Uzbekistan’s economy”.
„We want to interrupt the vicious circle of increasing rural poverty and the wasting of
natural resources”, explains PD Dr. Christopher Martius, the project coordinator in Bonn.
“We are therefore working out concepts to improve agricultural policies at national and
regional levels, to set up new institutions at all levels and to develop technological
innovations for improving farm and water management at local level”.
In addition, the project contributes substantially to building scientific capacity among the
young Uzbek academic generation. More than 80 scientists are involved in the project,
the majority of them coming from the region. Up to now, nine out of 23 doctoral students
have finished their PhDs in the framework of the project, among them six Uzbek
students. Most of the graduates received their doctoral degree from the University of
Bonn. Also, 33 students finished their BSc and 46 their MSc studies at Universities in
The ZEF-led research project is the largest and from Uzbek side the most important
scientific cooperation in the country. It is being conducted in cooperation with the
German Aerospace Center (DLR), UNESCO, and local partners such as the University
of Urgench. Also, the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) will be involved in the
coming research phase. The project has a permanent representation located at the site
of the University of Urgench. Here, modern office facilities were built with support of
UNESCO, providing computer rooms with geographical information systems (GIS).