#Kazakhstan is now taking another important role in the world

| April 6, 2018

We hear a lot about overseas aid coming from the US and EU, but it is far less well known that Kazakhstan has been providing aid to other countries for the last two decades. Kazakhstan has provided Official Development Aid (ODA) worth approximately $450 million and is continuing to increase its work in this direction, writes Colin Stevens.

In fact, Kazakhstan has been providing ODA for over 20 years in the framework of international agreements and treaties, a large proportion of this being for humanitarian projects.

Currently, active work is being undertaken to establish a national official development assistance operator in the form of an agency, provisionally called KazAID.

KazAID is the first ODA programme among the Central Asian states, and one that will have a neighbourhood focus.

The new agency will also fit with Kazakhstan’s broad, long-term strategy to make the country a regional hub for international diplomacy.

ODA is a mechanism for fostering regional stability and prosperity and KazAID is another useful tool for creating the favourable conditions for Kazakhstan’s ongoing development.

In particular, this includes meeting the goals of the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy and the high living standards it envisages for Kazakhstan’s citizens.

KazAID is not meant to be a charitable organization, providing funds at the disposal of foreign governments but, rather, will provide carefully-planned, targeted support to projects which are able to contribute effectively to the development of regional economies, safety and people’s well-being.

A source at the European Commission acknowledges Kazakhstan’s regional development efforts and, in particular KazAID, saying: “From our perspective, this is a sign of a new step in Kazakhstan’s development because Kazakhstan is now taking another important role in the world.”

The source added: “Needless to say, this process (setting up KazAID) takes some time and the project still has to pass a few more steps. However, we look forward to partnering with this organization.”

Of course, there are lots of challenges in the region, such as economic, water and connectivity issues, but the Commission says “it will be good to have a partner like KazAID”.

These comments are endorsed by Jun Kukita, chief representative of UNICEF in Kazakhstan, who describes both the ODA policy and KazAID “a very important development for Kazakhstan, particularly in the globalized world, where everything goes beyond a country’s border”.

As the country is located at the centre of Eurasia most agree that it makes sense for Kazakhstan to continue such valuable work among its immediate neighbours and Kukita is among them, saying: “Firstly, it is easier for neighbours to communicate with each other. Secondly, they share a common history and have common systems.”

“Kazakhstan can’t afford to separate itself from the problems, current and future, the rest of the region faces. As a result of its ODA policy, prosperity and stability among its neighbours will immediately affect Kazakhstan as well.”

A few years ago, Kazakhstan adopted a law on official development assistance and has subsequently launched two ODA-related pilot projects with its international partners.

As part of the first project, launched in April 2017, Astana and Almaty hosted a scientific and practical seminar. The aim was to improve productivity and profitability of agribusiness through training farmers and agricultural specialists in Central Asian countries in innovative technologies for water and energy conservation.

Under the second project, started last July, Kazakhstan is successfully implementing the project “Promoting Kazakhstan’s Official Development Assistance Cooperation with Afghanistan”, developed jointly with UNDP and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

At first, of course, Kazakhstan had little experience in the ODA concept and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had to start from scratch in developing a programme.

The now-adopted law was preceded by painstaking work studying the legislation and experience of other donor countries, including in Europe and the US where ODA policy has been a mainstay for many years.

Today, Kazakhstan’s ODA legislation has no comparison throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The European Commission source added: “Kazakhstan initially positioned itself as a responsible player and participant in the regional processes and, since the first days of independence, it has been providing necessary assistance.”

Kazakhstan’s ODA policy insists that various criteria should be applied when determining geography and partner countries. One condition relates to the level of relations between Kazakhstan and the country in question and its need for development assistance.

In recent years, further measures have been taken, including the creation of an Official Development Assistance Unit and meaningful partnerships being forged with the OECD Development Assistance Committee.

Today, Kazakhstan’s ODA has been raised to a completely new level and is considered one of the most effective instruments of foreign policy.

Currently, countries of Central Asia and Afghanistan are a priority for Kazakhstan’s ODA.

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Category: A Frontpage, featured, Featured Article, Kazakhstan