100 Water Heroes: Helena Fraser


UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for the Republic of Uzbekistan

Helena Fraser is the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Uzbekistan. Helena’s work with the UN in Uzbekistan is informed by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as they have “designed and are executing different projects to help these communities rise out of poverty and deal with the fact that they're living in the shadow of this environmental catastrophe” (Imamova, 2018).

Helena joined the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in 1997, when she served as a Field Advisor in Tbilisi, Georgia. Her most recent work with OCHA was when she lead their Regional Office for the Syria Crisis in Amman between 2014-2017. For over 20 years, Helena has been involved in OCHA, “primarily working in emergencies” (Imamova, 2018).

Regarding the environmental crises surrounding the Aral Sea and general water scarcity in Uzbekistan, Helena explains the UNDP’s approach:

“We're addressing human dignity. We're addressing challenges around prosperity. We're also addressing possible future challenges around conflict in the community, because of lack of water, because of environmental hazards and so forth.” (in Imamova, 2018)

The demise of the Aral Sea, according to Helena, “is not just a tragedy, as many people say, it is an active hazard unfolding before our eyes” (MacFarquhar, 2018).

Helena is one of our #100WaterHeroes because of her impactful work with the UN, and for her dedication to making the SDGs a reality in Uzbekistan.

Twitter: @HelenaFraserUN


100 Water Heroes: Yusup Kamalov

By Kelvin Trautman

By Kelvin Trautman

Chairman of the Union for the Defence of the Aral Sea and Amu Darya

Yusup Kamalov is a Senior Researcher at the Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences, specialising in Wind Energy. He also founded the Union for the Defence of the Aral Sea and Amu Darya, and currently still serves as its chairman. Since 2010, Yusup has also served as chairman of the Global Water Partnership (GWP) for Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Yusup has dedicated much of his career to fighting for the preservation of the Aral Sea, which is situated between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and was once the fourth biggest freshwater lake in the world. In the last 30 years, however, “massive irrigation projects diverted millions of gallons of water from the two major rivers feeding the Aral Sea,” often for cotton fields and rice paddies. By the beginning of the 1980s, the fresh water supply feeding the Aral Sea was cut off (Ganter, 2010).

When asked about the Aral Sea’s future, Yusup stresses the importance of a globally unified approach to its preservation, stating:

“If we are not able to save such a small lake, how can we save the planet? It would be a good example for people that we can do it, even on a small scale.  If are we not able to do it, then everybody might doubt we can save our planet. This is why we have to save the Sea.” (in Ganter, 2010)

Yusup is one of our #100WaterHeroes because of his unwavering efforts to save the Aral Sea, and for dedicating much of his career and life to this cause.