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BBC World Service

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February 25th, 2015

Episode 951 of 1501 episodes

As part of the BBC's A Richer World season, Rustam Qobil visits a desert where people have lost their sea, health and loved ones to a man-made disaster. He meets 86 year-old Khojabay who lives in Kazakhstan in the middle of a vast toxic desert made of mud, dust and pesticides – once The Aral Sea. 40 years ago his village was a seaside fishing port surrounded by freshwater lakes and barley fields, and he could catch up to 400 kilos of fish in one go. However, 26,000 square miles of sea is now called Aralkum or ‘The Aral Sands’ locally. When the Soviets started building dozens of dams and canals in the 1960s they deprived the Aral Sea of its two main tributaries and the sea started shrinking. Rustam Qobil travels to ‘The Aral Sands’ and hears from the people whose lives and families have been affected.

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