The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing up to $1.6 million to help restore the Aral Sea, the agency said in a statement in late November.
The inland sea, which Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan share, was devastated by abusive Soviet cotton farming practices in Uzbekistan.
Depleted by Soviet irrigation
Those practices left behind one of the "planet's worst environmental disasters", as described by the London Telegraph in 2010.
To irrigate Uzbek cotton farms, the Soviets starting in the 1960s diverted the rivers feeding what was once the world's fourth largest lake, draining about 90% of its volume, according to Vox.com.
Now, windstorms torment the much-reduced local population by blowing around dust and salt from the dried-up seabed.
A fishing industry that provided about 60,000 jobs in the early 1960s ceased to exist by the early 1980s.
Forests and jobs; expansion to Uzbekistan
In an effort to help restore the region, USAID in its statement announced the second phase of its Environmental Restoration of the Aral Sea plan.
The agency hopes to expand the project from Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan and to grow new forests to combat desertification.
The funding will aid local efforts to better air quality and the climate resilience of communities near the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan.
The first phase of the project, which has not ended, is taking place in Kazakhstan. It focuses on restoring the Aral Sea ecosystem and improving livelihoods dependent on the sea.
"For decades, USAID has supported sustainable, environmental solutions across Central Asia to foster improved stability, economic prosperity and healthy ecosystems," the agency said in its statement.