On 21 November 1995, within the framework of the TACIS project, WARMAP (Water Resource Management and Agricultural Production in Central Asia), the European Commission, DG I, received a high-level delegation including the five Central Asian Water Resource Ministers and other high-level representatives from Central Asia dealing with the Aral Sea problem. In 1992 the Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, approached the European Union for assistance to improve the management of water resources and integrated crop production systems to tackle the environmental crisis in the Aral Sea Basin. The WARMAP project was established by the EU, in February 1995, following requests for assistance from the Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The project will cover a period of two years and has been allocated a total of ECU 4.5 million through the Community's TACIS programme, and under the 1995 Interstate Action Programme (subsidiary of the TACIS programme). An additional ECU 1 million is foreseen for the European Union's activities in the Aral Sea Basin. The EU is also providing assistance to the Executive Committee of the Interstate Council for the Aral Sea (EC-ICAS), which is the local executing authority of the project, in particular by appointing consultants to provide professional advice which complements local expertise. The objectives of the project are to: - Provide the administrative and technical framework for development programmes concerned with utilization, allocation and management of water resources in the Aral Sea basin; - Determine resource allocation between economic sectors and users based on sound economic, equitable and ecological criteria; - Ensure proper regard for the preservation of water quality and downstream usage; - Obtain more effective use of existing systems and institutions while introducing economic concepts and environmental accounting to create awareness of the benefits of new policies; - Assist in developing new technologies for the allocation and management of water resources in agriculture. As a means of implementing these objectives the EC-ICAS has been assisted by regional and national working groups from the Central Asian Republics, which have prepared reports containing proposals for their action programmes. These are now being considered by the EU and the EC-ICAS for approval. It is anticipated that a meeting of donors will be held in the coming months to discuss the prospects and requirements for the investment stage of the Aral Sea Basin Programme and further funding arrangements. This meeting will be organized by the EC-ICAS with the support of the World Bank.