The current health crisis will have a far-reaching socioeconomic fallout, upending the lives of people around the world. The Covid-19 pandemic has created devastating social, economic and political crises for almost every affected country. This has resulted in a set of interconnected consequences that threaten to increase vulnerabilities and further underscore inequalities. As one of three critical components of efforts to save lives, protect people and rebuild better, the United Nations issued a road map - “United Nations Framework for the immediate socioeconomic response to COVID-19: Shared responsibility, global solidarity and urgent action for people in need” -- to support countries’ path to social and economic recovery with a particular focus on the most vulnerable countries, groups and people at risk of being left behind.
The United Nations Framework defines five pillars of the United Nations support for socioeconomic recovery that include: the protection of health services and systems; essential social services; safeguarding jobs, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); macroeconomic response and multilateral collaboration; and social cohesion and community resilience.
Guided by this Framework, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kazakhstan is leading the United Nations work on the socioeconomic response and supporting its national partners in developing a recovery strategy. The package of support includes a comprehensive needs assessment and a set of short- and medium-term measures recognizing that the recovery will need to ensure social equality and inclusion; increasing the resilience and adaptability of the public sector and its services; the mainstreaming of technology and digitalization; and rebuilding the economy in a greener and more sustainable fashion.
National recovery measures
Given the scale and scope of the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19, the Government of Kazakhstan recently enacted a comprehensive recovery plan to restore economic growth by the end of 2020. The government is directing 5.9 trillion KZT (15 billion USD) to implement systemic and sectoral measures to stimulate business activity, to maintain employment and to ensure socioeconomic stability in the country.
The government has also embarked on the revision of the National Strategic Development Plan 2025 that is designed to ensure sustained growth towards the Kazakhstan-2050 vision of joining the group of 30 most developed nations in the world. This is to be attained through reforms that focus on human capital development, technological modernization and digitalization, business competitiveness, the rule of law, ensuring stable regions, urbanization, modernization of public consciousness and public sector efficiency.
The new version of the strategic development plan, expected to be released by 1 August 2020, envisages a structural transformation of the economy. This transformation is to be driven by increased self-sufficiency, a competitive non-resource sector, high-quality investments and integration into regional and global value chains.
UNDP’s support to Kazakhstan
UNDP is making its global expertise in support of the recovery by working in partnership with national and international development partners.
First, UNDP is facilitating a series of virtual policy dialogues that feature expertise from the UNDP’s Global Policy Network. The dialogues focus on various aspects of public administration reform as part of the Concept of Public Administration System Development design. Particular attention will center on strategic human resources planning and management, technological transformation, accountability mechanisms, local development, resilience and business continuity.
Secondly, UNDP is also providing informed analysis and expert support in revisiting the National Strategic Development Plan 2025 and ensuring its alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Thirdly, within the UN COVID response, UNDP is helping Kazakhstan recover from the pandemic, focusing on the most vulnerable. The Socioeconomic Impact Assessment of COVID-19 that involves surveying 12,000 respondents from vulnerable groups of population and 2,000 Small and Medium Sized Entreprises (SMEs) will contribute fresh data and evidence to support post-crisis recovery actions in the country. The analysis will include the impact on the business continuity in the public sector and its services, the effects on social protection and its coverage and the impact on labour market resilience, on the informal economy, and on SMEs.
UNDP’s response in Kazakhstan also aims to generate employment for at-risk youth most hit by the crisis. A 3-month subsidized youth apprenticeship programme accompanied by soft-skills trainings and mentorship support has been launched for 150 vulnerable youth of Nur-Sultan (55) and Almaty (55) cities, and Karaganda region (40) to help overcome socio-economic isolation of unemployed young people who struggle to find jobs due to economic slowdown, quarantine restrictions and overall uncertainty.
To strengthen the government capacity to deliver services while working remotely, UNDP has designed two training modules to upgrade digital, telecommuting and other critical skills of public personnel gleaned from the findings of the Rapid Real Needs Assessment of Civil Servants in crisis setting. 1000 specialists and middle managers of the state bodies on national and sub-national levels will take part in the training starting from mid-June.
Based on its long-standing experience, UNDP is offering expertise to integrate sustainable and carbon-neutral principles into the recovery path of Kazakhstan, through actions on clean and renewable energy, accelerating decarbonization of the economy and protecting the natural capital of the country.
Finally, UNDP’s support to the national recovery strategy will be further intensified through the new Country Programme 2021-2025. UNDP will be assisting Kazakhstan in sustaining its growth trajectory by diversifying the economy, modernizing institutions, reducing inequalities, and sustainably managing natural resources. With its novel approach and a set of integrated solutions, UNDP strives to accelerate structural transformations, help better prepare for future shocks across all dimensions of sustainable development and build back better, exceeding the “old normal”.