With USAID’s assistance, Kyrgyzstan has made substantial progress in the areas of economic growth, democratic governance, health care reform, improvement of basic education, and agricultural development. However, significant impediments to development remain, including widespread corruption, low foreign investment, high unemployment, and endemic poverty. Approximately one-third of Kyrgyzstan’s workforce is employed abroad, draining the country of its qualified labor and reducing the availability of services. The implementation of democratic reforms remains a challenge, and limited energy resources and low agricultural productivity leave the country susceptible to humanitarian crises.
Governing Justly and Democratically
USAID’s extensive support helped ensure that fair and free parliamentary elections took place in Kyrgyzstan in November 2010 following the unrest earlier that year. USAID trained nearly 30,000 election officials, and voter education programs and information reached 756,000 citizens. While many doubted that the government had the political will to adhere to democratic principles, intensive technical assistance to the Central Election Commission and effective donor coordination resulted in the recognition of the elections as fair and their acceptance by the local and international community. Since the elections, Kyrgyzstan has emerged as Central Asia’s first parliamentary democracy. USAID is capitalizing on this important development by providing expert advice and capacity building to Kyrgyzstan’s new parliament through the Parliamentary Strengthening Project, which helps make the parliament an effective and democratic institution and a model for Central Asia.
USAID will increase outreach to civil society organizations to strengthen their capacity for providing input into national-level decision making. USAID’s local government programs will help district and municipal governments improve their working relationships with business and community groups, to strengthen their ability to respond to citizen concerns and seize upon economic opportunities.
USAID recently launched its Local Development Project to stimulate rapid, diversified, and sustainable economic growth by supporting local economic development in Kyrgyzstan. The project will work with 24 partner municipalities, towns, and villages throughout Kyrgyzstan that are competitively selected. USAID’s assistance focuses on improving tax administration, simplifying the licensing regime, facilitating trade, and streamlining customs.
Kyrgyzstan’s limited energy resources threaten to hold back the country’s economic growth. To facilitate the development of regional electricity markets in Central Asia, USAID helps reform the country’s electricity system and devises policies to mitigate energy shortages.
The Kyrgyzstan Agro-Input Enterprise Development project helps address long-term agricultural productivity. It focuses on farmers and commodities with the best potential for improving sustainable agricultural production and food security. To reduce the impact of rising food prices and low agricultural productivity, USAID is helping to introduce modern technologies to increase the ability of the agricultural sector to provide food and incomes, and is helping to develop private-public partnerships.
Investing in People: Healthcare and Education
Tuberculosis (TB) control is USAID’s number one health priority in Kyrgyzstan. The 2009 data showed significant decreases in TB incidence and mortality related to TB. TB incidence fell from 116 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2005 to 101 in 2009, and mortality has declined from 11 per 100,000 in 2005 to 8.7 in 2009. Additionally, USAID has helped Kyrgyzstan design its health reform plans, including health finance reform, and has been supporting their implementation. With USAID’s support, the country adopted a single-payer system and an institute of family medicine that includes over 700 centers staffed with specialists that USAID helped retrain.
For eight years, USAID has supported the National Scholarship Test. The test is used to select government scholarship recipients on the basis of merit and has served as a model for anti-corruption activities. USAID also helps improve teacher training and student assessments, promotes teacher involvement in curriculum reform, and assists in reforming the education finance system. Over 20 percent of the country’s primary school students have benefitted from this assistance. Additionally, USAID provides student loan guarantees to enable students to access Kyrgyzstan’s better quality universities and vocational schools.
For more information, please visit http://centralasia.usaid.gov/kyrgyzstan