UN Multi-Partner Human Security Trust Fund for Aral Sea Region In Uzbekistan


The drying up of the Aral Sea, which was the fourth-largest lake in the world until the 1960s, is among the greatest human-made global environmental disasters whose negative effects go beyond national and regional boundaries. It has affected the livelihoods of millions of people living in the region, with the epicenter in the Republic of Karakalpakstan, in Uzbekistan.

An evolving crisis, the Aral Sea disaster has several negative consequences, including land degradation and desertification, shortage of drinking water, malnutrition, deterioration of health conditions, and the livelihoods of the local population. The socio-economic and environmental consequences are further complicated by the rapid speed of its negative effects.

Despite significant efforts to address these issues, the lack of a unified development strategy with an inter-sectoral, integrated approach, the inadequate coordination of aid flows, the duplication of activities, and low degree of government ownership of development assistance have limited the effectiveness of interventions so far and the sustainability of the results.


The human security approach is an optimal framework to analyze and plan for interventions adapted to the conditions of vulnerable communities due to the Aral Sea crises. Using a multi-sectorial lens, it develops a holistic set of interventions that are 1) people-centered; comprehensive; 3) context-specific, and 4) prevention-oriented.


The Multi-Partner Human Security Trust Fund for the Aral Sea region in Uzbekistan (MPHSTF) aims to be transformative, evidence- and human-rights based, and inclusive in its goal of catalyzing and strengthening a multi-sectoral and people-centered response to address the consequences of one of the world’s biggest man-made environmental disasters. The MPHSTF provides a coherent strategy to coordinate aid flows and increase government ownership to enable sustainable results.

MPHSTF’s theory of change has identified six clusters of interrelated problems that include:

Environmental insecurity;

Economic insecurity

Food insecurity

Health insecurity

Social insecurity

Ineffectiveness of donor assistance.

The MPHSTF is in line with the Busan development effectiveness principles on local ownership, focus on results, a partnership of development partners, and transparency of aid.

The assistance provided through the MPHSTF is based on a single programmatic framework, which has been developed based on the results of an independent socio-economic survey conducted in the communities most affected by the environmental disaster.

The Fund aims to build the resilience of communities in Uzbekistan affected by the Aral Sea ecological disaster through achieving the following five outcomes:


The MPHSTF governance arrangements provide for efficient and effective decision-making and oversight framework, ensuring a streamlined fund allocation process and clear lines of accountability. The governance arrangements are built on and informed by the principles of inclusiveness, transparency, accountability

The Steering Committee has the overall responsibility for the MPHSTF. It is responsible for leadership, strategic direction, and decisions on eligibility, allocation, and other managerial and oversight aspects. It will be co-chaired by a High-Level Government representative and the UN Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan and will include the representatives of national ministries, UN agencies, NGOs, and contributing donors.

At a later stage, the Steering Committee may consider the establishment of an Advisory Committee, which would serve as an information-sharing forum once the number of donors and Participating UN Organizations becomes so large that their inclusion in the Steering Committee would no longer be feasible.

A Technical Secretariat will provide operational and administrative support to the MPHSTF Steering Committee in ensuring coherence, qualitative development of operational documents, monitoring of the results achieved, and conformity of the MPHSTF activity with the priorities of the Government.

The implementation of interventions will be the responsibility of the Participating UN Organizations (PUNOs) – UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNODC, and UNESCO.

Each PUNO will be programmatically and financially responsible for MPHSTF resources received.

The Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office (MPTF Office), a UN center of expertise on pooled financing mechanisms housed by UNDP, will administer the MPHSTF as the Administrative Agent. The key responsibilities of the Administrative Agent include receiving contributions from donors, administering the fund following the relevant UN regulations, rules, policies, and procedures, and ensuring the preparation of consolidated narrative and financial reports based on reports provided by the PUNOs.


The Steering Committee issues ‘Call for proposals’ for funding from the MPHSTF and will allocate funds to PUNOs based on proposals submitted by them through the Technical Secretariat. The Technical Secretariat reviews the proposals in terms of their alignment with the eligibility criteria and makes recommendations to the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee decides on the approval of proposals for funding taking into account the review by the Technical Secretariat. After approval of the proposals, the Steering Committee will instruct the Administrative Agent to transfer the approved amount to the PUNOs.


The MPHSTF funds will be directed towards developing and piloting new and innovative methods to address the most urgent needs of the affected population, including through piloting of business projects. Successful pilot projects will be presented for replication and upscaling by the Government, development partners, and the business sector, not only within the Aral Sea region but also in other regions.

Successful proposals need to be people-centered, designed based on the conditions of the region and target communities, strategic and multidimensional, focusing on technology transfer and the piloting of new approaches. A detailed description of the eligibility criteria for proposals is provided in the MPHSTF Terms of Reference.


Contributions to the MPHSTF may be accepted by Governments, bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors, individuals, and the private sector.

Contributors are encouraged to make un-earmarked contributions to allow the Fund to maximize the benefits of flexibility, risk pooling, and coherence. Earmarked contributions by individual donors can be accepted provided that earmarking is at the Fund outcome level and thereby fully aligned to the Fund Strategy.