KaraKum :
a channel without boat to drain the sea.

Kara Kum. The Black Desert. It is the name of an important area of Turkmenistan, the second hottest area of the world, but it is also the name of this channel dug there by the Soviets in the Sixties. Thanks to the water which it brings, Kara Kum Channel makes the desert move back in Turkménistan. The irrigation of the soil made possible this desertic country to become vegetable and fruit exporter. Its pumpkins, melons and other cucurbitaceous are famous for their sun taste. Turkmenistan celebrates pumpkin on August eight and it is one holyday and a feast for the whole country. Our friends of Tourine must think to that and give the idea with our politicians. This channel is also the water supply of the cotton fields and the rice plantations of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Unfortunately all is far from being positive. The water brought by Kara Kum Channel, must well have been taken somewhere. And this somewhere is Syr Darya and Amu Darya, the tributaries of the Aral Sea of whose drying up is due mainly to Kara Kum Channel. And it is not the only misdeed of the cultivation on irrigated soil. To make a desert green, one needs water but one needs also minerals fertilizers: nitrated and phosphatic manures. And one was not sparing of these products. So much so that the soil was washed of their original minerals and that surface waters are charged with nitrates and phosphates : just the condition to eutrophy the lakes and rivers where they end up arrive. When they arrive there. Generally, they are prevented by it by evaporation and the manures not consumed by the plants settle in the soil which they make unsuitable to any agricultural use. A success!

Is it so serious to deteriorate a desert? On the one hand, it is always serious to modify an ecosystem without knowing the long-term consequences of this modification. The example of the Aral Sea is the best confirmation of that. And it is far from being the only.

On the other hand, Kara Kum is not so desertic. Firstly, it is inhabited. One finds there also remarkable archeological sites but more especially, it is the habitat of many endemic vegetable and animal species. World's most beautiful flower displays can be seen not in the Netherlands but well around the Repetek Desert Station in Turkmenistan from early April till the end of June. At this moment, Kara Kum is flowered on 80.000 km². Three times Belgium!

The road of Repetek is also that of Uzbekistan, Bukhara, Samarkand and Toškent. Three wonders of archaeology, architecture and nature.


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