In the 1960s, the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya rivers were diverted by the Soviets to irrigate cotton plantations. Deprived of its two main tributaries, the shores of the Aral Sea, which spanned from the North in Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan at its Southern tip, began to recede—taking with it the fishing industry, as well as much of the sustainable agriculture of both countries. The damming also left behind miles of desert where fresh water had once flourished, with sandstorms now becoming frequent during the increasingly hot, dry summers. And what remained of the waters of the Aral was turned into an hyper-salinated pool of agricultural pesticides, killing off most remaining fish and surrounding wildlife as well. Health problems and unemployment pushed droves of people into neighboring cities and towns.
more about the Aral Sea HERE