15,000 people living close to uranium tailings are expected to benefit from a new project

Dec 23, 2014

Ak-Tyuz, former uranium production site remains a threat to many residents. Credit: UNDP in Kyrgyzstan

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - On December 23 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the United Nations Development Programme signed a memorandum of understanding on financing of a new project on socio-economic development of communities around uranium tailings in Kyrgyzstan. 15 000 people from poor and vulnerable communities of five towns: Min-Kush, Kaji-Say, Ak-Tuz, Orlovka and Bordo are expected to benefit from the project.

The memorandum was another important step in strengthening cooperation between the Russian Federation and UNDP as well as other UN agencies in assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic in the priority areas of sustainable development.

During the signing ceremony Ambassador of the Russian Federation in the Kyrgyz Republic Andrey Krutko noted that the project will involve the expertise of the Russian Federation in the field of early warning systems and monitoring the environment. In particular, experts of the Russian Research Institute for Civil Defense and Emergencies are expected to engage in the project.

According to Mr. Krutko financing and expert support of the project by the Russian Federation will further strengthen the strategic partnership between Russia and the Kyrgyz Republic, which is one of the priority recipients of the Russian development assistance in Central Asia.

“For the Russian side, it is important that this project will be implemented by the UN Development Programme. In December 2013, we signed a donor agreement on a pilot project on the area-based development of Naryn oblast. A lot has been done over the past year and Moscow hopes that the new project in Kyrgyzstan will be not less of an example of our fruitful collaboration" noted the Ambassador.

During the meeting, UN Resident Coordinator, UNDP Resident Representative in Kyrgyzstan Alexander Avanessov expressed his appreciation to the Government of the Russian Federation for supporting UNDP’s and the UN system’s effort to promote sustainable development in the country.

"This new project is another important joint initiative, which was preceded by painstaking work of experts from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, international experts, consultations with local communities and beneficiaries. Authorized government bodies of the Russian Federation and the Russian Embassy in Kyrgyzstan, UNDP headquarters and the UNDP Regional Centre in Istanbul actively contributed to the advancement of this project. The Government of the Kyrgyz Republic has repeatedly expressed interest in continuing the work on socio-economic development and improving environmental safety of local communities in the uranium tailing areas, and in addressing the issue of uranium tailings in general. The project will start in early 2015. We hope that we, together with the beneficiaries and project partners will be able to overcome the depressing situation in these pilot villages. We have all the possibilities." said Alexander Avanessov.

The budget of the new project is 1,476,000 US dollars. The Russian Federation provided these funds as a grant. Period of implementation – 24 months.

The main goal of the project is to promote an integrated socio-economic development of five settlements: Min-Kush, Kaji-Sai, Ak-Tuz, Orlovka and Bordo, which are in difficult environmental and social conditions due to their proximity to former uranium production sites. UNDP will assist the communities in these towns in four main areas:

  1. Increasing awareness of the local population about the environmental issues and establishing a system of regular monitoring of the environment;
  2. Rehabilitation of socio-economic infrastructure and the development of income-generating activities;
  3. Supporting local initiatives through small grants funding;
  4. Capacity building of local authorities and communities.

As part of these components, specific projects will be developed and implemented in cooperation with beneficiaries, local communities and authorities.

The project also aims to complement the Russian State Corporation Rosatom’s efforts on reclamation of uranium tailings in Min-Kush and Kadji-Sai as part of the EurAsEC programme on rehabilitation of the territories exposed to uranium production for 2013-2018 via socio-economic development of the mentioned areas.

The project will ensure a close partnership with IAEA, the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia, the Rosatom State Corporation, other partners in the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic, local authorities and local communities, business associations, farmers and entrepreneurs.

In recent years, cooperation between the Russian Federation and UNDP has reached new levels by opening up new prospects for promotion of sustainable human development in various countries, including the Kyrgyz Republic.

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