MSF cooks for people of Munyak on last day of the year

The MSF team in Munyak, Uzbekistan, spent its last day of the year in the kitchen. From 12 noon, 15 MSF expatriates were preparing Plof, a traditional central Asian rice dish, for the whole population of the town.

'We'll be cooking for 3,000 people,' said country manager Ian Small. 'But we aren't sure how many will show up. The idea is to show that communities like Munyak, which are in a precarious situation, are not forgotten during the millennium transition.

'We have chosen not to go home to our families but celebrate New Year's Eve with the people of Munyak. They haven't had much to
celebrate during the last couple of decades.' Munyak is located on the shore of the Aral Sea, which has shrunk

dramatically during the last 30 years after the water of rivers draining into the lake was diverted by the Soviets for irrigating cotton
farms.

Once a thriving fishing village, Munyak is now separated from the water by some 100 kilometres. As the lake dried up, public health
deteriorated as well: the region surrounding the Aral Sea has the greatest incidence of tuberculosis of the former Soviet Union.

MSF is running a tuberculosis-control programme in and around Munyak.