Eradicating poverty through strengthening local community and business

Context

25.6% of the population in Kyrgyzstan lives below the poverty line. Since larger population lives in rural regions, poverty affects it the most. Osh, Batken and Jalal-Abad regions top the rating with the latter having 32.6% of its population to live in poverty.

High underemployment and lack of income opportunities force younger population to migrate abroad in search for low-skilled jobs. They leave their families behind for years supporting them only through remittances.

Agriculture is a key source of income for many rural households. Due to low productivity, it contributes little to their economic wellbeing. Most farmers are smallholders. Few farmers are integrated into market-driven supply chains. They struggle to compete in international markets due to lack of efficiency in production and processing, modern technologies and investment.

At the same time, agriculture bears a high potential to improve rural incomes. Adapting modern eco-friendly practices to produce fresh and organic food can pave the way to additional markets. Acquiring certification by international standards can open access to international markets of premium organic foods.

Furthermore, tourism possesses an unexplored potential for generating income. The cultural heritage, mountainous landscape, diverse flora and fauna create many opportunities for developing ecotourism in rural areas of Kyrgyzstan. Tourism-favouring policies, such as visa-free regime for 61 countries, provides good conditions for maximising this potential.

Objective

The Integrated Rural Development Programme aims to improve the income opportunities of the rural population in southern Kyrgyzstan with the focus on Jalal-Abad region.

The Integrated Rural Development Programme is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and co-funded by the EU and German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The programme budget amounts to 11.3 million Euro, of which 9.8 million is funded by the EU. In line with national strategies, the programme aims at fostering economic clusters in the region. The programme works from October 2018 until November 2022.

Activities

The Programme activities enhance potential of the agriculture and tourism sectors in the region via engaging local civil society, enterprises and self-governments.

Under its first component, the programme strengthens and develops groups of local farmers and tourism service providers. The programme supports the producer groups or cooperatives through advice and training. Within these producer groups, the members use programme’s support in building their capacities, coordination of production, processing and marketing activities. The group members are also able to provide services to each other, share costs and obtain external services. Complementary to the above-mentioned, the programme supports investments in modern technologies. Providers of tourism services are able to bundle their products and become more competitive in national and international markets.

The second component focuses on improving rural services that enhance competitiveness and innovative edge of local producers and tourism service providers. Programme activities comprise training and coaching, study tours, investment in modern processing technologies and infrastructure. The service providers are expected to offer advice, training, food quality assessment, as well as transport and storage to local farmers and tourism service producers. The programme supports matchmaking between producers and local service providers

The third component aims at providing platforms for dialogues. Representatives of local self-governments, enterprises, and civil society join forces for local social and economic development. They exchange knowledge, express needs and suggestions to facilitate coherent cooperation and coordination of activities to develop local well-being. They plan and implement joint measures benefitting all stakeholders, including youth, women and ethnic minorities. This component also comprises small investments into local infrastructure improvement.

Approach

The programme implements activities for the first and third components via calls for proposals. Civil society and nongovernmental organisations are eligible to participate. The awarded applicants receive grants and carry out capacity building for producers, producer groups, tourism service providers and local self-governments, and facilitate dialogues between them. The programme directly carries out activities under the second component.

Another important approach is sustaining the continuity of successful practices introduced by previous and current programmes in the region. For instance, the programme upscales the organic plum production and processing supply chain in Jalal-Abad region introduced by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

To ensure financial sustainability, the participants of activities under all components contribute to the measures.

Expected Impact

Local producers join into groups, thereby reduce costs, improve production capacities and quality of their products, using modern technologies.

The local services, including business consultation, transport, logistics and touristic offers are in place. Better local services contribute to improved efficiency and therefore higher competitiveness of local producers and tourism service providers. With local organic food products and sustainable tourism, local businesses access national and international markets. Services are offered in a financially sustainable way. Economic clusters in the agricultural and tourism sectors develop, providing for more income-generating opportunities