Our Perspective

Risks of natural disasters in Central Asia: how to move from response to prevention?

20 Apr 2018


By Stanislav Kim, Disaster Risk Reduction Specialist, UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub The forthcoming meeting of the Heads of disaster management authorities of the Central Asian states, which will be held on April 27, 2018 in Almaty, Kazakhstan - is a good reason to set sights once again on when disaster risk reduction issue will become one of the national and regional priorities of Central Asia. It's no secret that the region is extremely vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters. The level of threats is growing due to a series of factors, among them are global climate change, growth of population, urbanization, industrial and agricultural development. Almost all countries regularly face seasonal hydrometeorological emergency situations such as floods, mudflows, landslides, avalanches, cold and heat waves. As noted in most of the National Communications to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the frequency and impact of these emergencies have recently intensified because of climate change. Besides, the region still remembers the devastating earthquakes that took place at the beginning and in the middle of the last century, as well as various man-made disasters and catastrophes. The situation is aggravated by the fact that even in the absence of large-scale destructive catastrophes  Read More

One brick at a time from the wall of red tape: what we’ve learned while making public services easier and more accessible

02 Aug 2017


By: Bakhytzhan Kurmanov, UNDP manager of project Assistance in improving the system of public administration assessment and provision of public services in the Republic of Kazakhstan   To get up to speed with the changes of the post-Soviet time shortly after it gained independence Kazakhstan launched a presidential scholarship program “Bolashak” for international study. Its goal was to train the country’s young people at best universities in the world to help bring about major reforms in the key development areas. However, Bolashak scholars were only a tiny drop in the sea of Kazakhstan’s youth who went to study abroad. Like sea turtles many came back to contribute to Kazakhstan’s growth and development. Others muddled along on a shore, facing bureaucratic hurdles which I will describe in my own story. When I went on a university-sponsored scholarship to do a Master’s degree in Public Administration at the Australian National University I found that my diploma was not officially recognized at home. I had to wait for five months to have my completion certificate recognized in Kazakhstan. In some cases, other graduates couldn’t start working. They simply had to wait for a whole year in order to sign a contract with the company  Read More

Easy ways of consuming less – it’s all in the habits

28 Jul 2017


By Dina Teltayeva Photos by Anar Kassymova When I was a child and then a teenager Kazakhstan was transiting from a centrally planned economy to a free market. Bounty and Snickers chocolates moved from TV commercials on the screens at home and quickly started flooding first small independent trading points known as “kiosks”. Such goods even became a commodity for informal trading among kids. I clearly remember giving five pieces of Turbo chewing gum and getting the much-coveted chocolate bar in return. These collectibles were rare and precious, at least for us, children, growing up in the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Adults, too, used to chase up and appreciate imported clothes and cosmetics. On the other hand, the good thing was that we didn’t give much thought to other things, such as water. These amenities were generously and inexpensively provided by the planned economy. The bad thing was that we weren’t accustomed to think of them as precious. Prices were fixed and didn’t change for decades. As I write this I called up my mum to ask her how much we had to pay for water per month in early 1980s. The answer is… she doesn’t remember. On the Internet, I  Read More

2000 children in Almaty are trained cycling safety

04 Apr 2017


“Before I attended “Young cyclist’s school” I couldn’t ride a bicycle. I used to think that I never would. But during the project they taught me how to balance. They explained the rules for cyclists. Lots of kids in our school now have a new hobby in cycling,”says Christina Ryabova, 9th grade pupil, school №106. Last year three Almaty schools and School Palace №5 turned into a platform for the implementation of teenagers’cycling safety programme developed by the UNDP-GEF "City of Almaty Sustainable Transport" project and "Saktau" Public Fund.   “We wanted to involve more children who don’t live in the city center but on the outskirts. That is why we have chosen schools №106, 98 and 64. The children mostly live at a distance of 2-3 kilometers from the school. This is an acceptable distance for a bicycle. There is no cycling infrastructure, so we made an emphasis on teaching traffic rules,” said Alla Zinovieva, Almaty School palace №5 teacher. From the beginning of April till the end of July, 2016 children aged 12-17 years were trained at the cycling school. And on the 1st September, 2016 kids got new bikes, safety equipment and repair kits bought by UNDP and GEF.  Read More

Almaty residents will be motivated to use "green" vehicles by mobile applications

24 Mar 2017


Last year in September the United Nations Development Programme held a transport hackathon within the framework of Tech Garden Fair. Three final projects were selected and evaluated by UNDP and IT experts. The youngest participant Anouk Dyussembayeva, 15, represented project called Pedestrian to improve traffic safety around city schools. She offers to set up a volunteer network by creating a special website, a mobile application and a messenger bot. Funding from the UNDP-GEF “City of Sustainable Transport Project”: 3,000USD. Anouk Dyusembayeva, project developer: My parents wanted me and my brother to be safe, and there has always been an adult person accompanying us. But later I began noticing a lot of children going to school all by themselves. I also heard a lot of stories about kids hit by cars on zebra crossings. Once I became a witness of such accident myself. I shared the story with my parents and they suggested that I start a project. I thought why not to create a volunteer network that would help children to cross the roads. My dad told me that the best way to promote the project was to participate in a hackathon. We’d been looking for a suitable one for a  Read More

“I’m Not Afraid to Tell”: How Kazakh women are breaking the silence on gender-based violence

28 Jul 2016


By Dina Teltayeva Over the past few months, I’ve witnessed as women in Kazakhstan break their silence on sexual violence. A campaign titled #ЯнеБоюсьСказать (I’m not afraid to tell) и НеМолчи (Don’t keep Quiet) has led to many women sharing their stories. One of them is Dina Tansari (pictured), a well-known TV producer. “…I was unconscious. They left me in front of my flat, rang the bell, and ran away. In the morning I couldn’t remember anything, except for my mum’s screams when she found me…,” she wrote on her Facebook wall.   Dina has spoken up after two decades of torturing silence. When she was twenty, her own classmates drugged her at a wedding party and gang-raped her. Her mother rented an out-of-town flat for Dina when she found out about the incident because she couldn’t bear the shame that her daughter had brought to the family. She was left alone with her tragedy. #IamNotAfraidtoTell was started by Ukrainian journalist Anastasiya Melnichenko. The speed with which it has spread throughout the Russian-speaking social media is shocking in itself. After reading many of these stories, I decided to take a closer look at the official statistics on violence against women in Kazakhstan. The latest information available  Read More

On the fact-finding mission to the regions of Kazakhstan: Uncovering hidden knowledge and forging friendship with the local executive authorities

25 Jul 2016

image PICTURE. PROJECT ARCHIVE. Seminar in Karaganda.

By Bakhytzhan Kurmanov Within the period of just 2 weeks, the joint delegation of the UNDP and the Ministry of National Economy alongside a professional business trainer and other officials visited more than 8 cities in all parts of Kazakhstan. The delegation had to rely on air, rail and land transport to get to some remote cities in the harsh conditions of Kazakh continental winter. Airports were shut down, roads got constrained and trains occasionally missed the schedule. Despite tight deadlines and blocked roads, the organizer’s team had just 14 days to cover all Kazakhstan’s regions to deliver its ultimate mission of explaining the new model of the assessment system. However, the goal of the trip was not to give ordinary presentations or organize public lectures to show the best practices to regional officials, but to uncover problems and establish effective relationships with the people who were implementing the assessment system of efficiency of state bodies at regional and local level. From Aktau and Pavlodar to Taldykorgan and Shymkent officials of local executive bodies (akimaty) actively participated in the interactive and frank dialogue that facilitated cooperative discovery of hidden potential and problems of the existing model of the assessment system.  First, the  Read More

Drip, drop. Can innovations save water in Kazakhstan?

15 Jul 2016


Frankly speaking, I had never given much thought to how and where my water comes from until I moved to Astana. The quality of water in Astana is far worse than in Almaty, where I came from, and suddenly water became an issue in my life. For instance, although tap water here is considered suitable for drinking, many residents prefer to buy bottled water or install filters. The outlook for Kazakhstan shows that the country might experience a 50% water shortage by 2040. Outdated facilities, a focus on modernization rather than saving, lack of water specialists capable of taking accurate stock of water use and consumption, and poor coordination among ministries responsible for water management all contribute to this risk. According to the Nature journal, as of October 2014, Central Asia in general is considered a large water-waster relative to the size of its economies and populations. In Kazakhstan, this is due to two factors: over-reliance of the economy on extensive agriculture that applies traditional methods and heavy industry such as mining, both of which demand extremely high amounts of water. The country is increasing incentives to save water in all economic sectors, especially agriculture, which accounts for 66% of water loss. This includes  Read More


03 May 2016

There was a time when our region was green, crop production and pastures were well supplied by the sufficient amount of water. The river Syrdarya was full of water and more than 2500 community were settled on that time. Everyone was happy and had enough food for the household. For the last 25 years, the water in the delta region of Syrdaya river has completely dried out, the water channels were filled up by clays and no water now in our regions, the majority of the community are left out the region and few households remained and continued to live in such unbearable socio ecological conditions. Unfortunately my family was one of those few families, who had to stay because we had no place to go. It was hard to my dad to take care of our family, he used to bring pure water from 30 km far using a horse and rarely by car if his friends were able to support. We had about 9 ha of productive irrigated land which my dad had to squeeze down his farming land into 0,8 ha because of shortage of irrigation water. It has to be mentioned that the quality of water was  Read More

Is it expensive to build energy efficient houses in Kazakhstan?

22 Feb 2016

image New energy-efficient building at 106/6 Yermekova Street, Karaganda

By Saya Kakim, Communications Specialist A common belief is that building energy-efficient houses can be costly. I wondered if it was really so and decided to do my own research. Given that in almost all of Kazakhstan climate is severely continental, with cold winters and hot summers, people choose their homes based not only on the conventional factors, such as location and size, but they also consider  whether their prospective homes are warm enough during winters.  With urban multi-apartment buildings having no individual control over heating for each flat, energy efficient houses generally offer more comfortable living conditions. Energy efficiency of a building could be improved by the use of thermal insulation, modern window frames and doors that prevent heat losses, as well as heat consumption controllers, such as thermostatic valves for radiators. It is a common belief that construction of energy efficient buildings involves a variety of additional costs, which add up quickly and can significantly affect the price of a home in terms of cost per square meter. Is this statement true? Let’s look at key measures that enhance energy efficiency of houses and what effect they have on a price of a square meter. A pilot project implemented by  Read More

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