Poverty remains high in the Kyrgyz Republic, although the level of extreme poverty is moderate. In 2010, an estimated 33.7 percent of the population lived below the poverty line and almost three-quarters of the poor lived in rural areas.
UNDP’s work in poverty reduction stands on its own as one of the pillars of development work in the Kyrgyz Republic, and has also been integrated into other spheres of operation. The UNDP Poverty Reduction Programme has been operating in Kyrgyzstan since 1998. It aims to complement the efforts of the government and civil society in poverty alleviation by enhancing economic opportunities for the poor (especially women), supporting income-generating activity and providing access to financial services.
The programme is implemented at both macro level (policy advice) and micro level (grassroots activities). At the macro level, the programme supports priorities set forth by the Kyrgyz Government through assistance in developing and implementing policies and strategies that support socioeconomic advancement of the poor. To this end, the programme participates in and supports analytical work to help policy makers come to informed decisions.
As part of its activities UNDP helped to develop several important analytical works like:
- Research of Urban Poverty (2005).
- Feminization of Poverty in Kyrgyzstan (2007).
- Analysis of the Shadow Economy in the Kyrgyz Republic (2006).
- Private Sector Mapping in Kyrgyzstan (2006).
- Gender Analysis of Legislation in the Sphere of Employment and Entrepreneurship (2008).
Analysis of the shadow economy, for example, helped establish a special Secretariat of the Working Committee on Legalization of the Shadow Economy under the Government and develop an action plan on legalization.
The programme’s expert support helped develop strategic documents like the Country Development Strategy (2009-2011) and the MDG-based participatory regional development plans of Batken and Talas provinces, with special emphasis on poverty reduction.
At the grassroots level, the programme helps mobilize economically active poor population and improve their access to workplaces and resources. It is active in 138 mainly remote villages of six provinces of Kyrgyzstan, developing new financial and economic tools and services and continuously investing in people’s individual capacities. Since 2006, trainings and consultations on entrepreneurship skills have already covered over 29,000 people in target villages and helped establish 1,900 small businesses.
Increasing access of poor population to financial resources and services through cooperation with microfinance institutes (MFI) is also a priority for the programme. Such partnerships helped develop non-collateral loans for various groups at the local level. Since 2006, more than 10,000 people received over 300 million Kyrgyz soms in loans, while the most innovative and sustainable projects in rural areas were provided with 446,000 USD of grant support.
UNDP Kyrgyzstan jointly with UN Volunteers helped 100,000 citizens of the country or two percent of the population to improve their socioeconomic conditions through capacity development of local communities and social mobilization, development of micro financing, provision of grants for development of local infrastructure and small businesses in rural areas.
In response to the tragic events in 2010, the Poverty Reduction Programme implemented anti-crisis measures to help stabilize the situation in the country. More than 10,000 people of various ethnic backgrounds (including women, disabled and other socially vulnerable people) throughout the country were engaged in the Cash-for-Work Temporary Employment Programme, which helped restore infrastructure and remove consequences of the events in major cities like Bishkek, Osh and Jalal-Abad. About 1,000 people were involved in professional trainings through vocational schools on the most demanded specializations.