In the 1960's the USSR began using water from the Amu Darya River and its tributaries to grow cotton. This resulted in dramatic reduction of surface and heavy chemical use which had significant environmental and health consequences. The Aral Sea was once the fourth largest inland bodies of water, but today it is only 10% of its original size.
This has resulted in economic hardship for communities that used to rely on fishing, salinization of soils and drinking water, above average reported rates of cancer and other noncommunicable diseases, and pesticide contamination of soil and water. TIFO has partnered with MSF and the Karakalpakstan Ministry of Health to assess risks and develop solutions to improve health outcomes.