hunger in kazakhstanKazakhstan has made great strides in reducing hunger levels within its borders. In the 1920s, the country experienced a famine that led to up to 33% of the Kazakh population dying. The country experienced another famine in the 1930s, during which up to 1.5 million people died. Today, Kazakhstan has put forward a tremendous effort in reducing hunger to a very low hunger level. The country ranks 20th out of 117 qualifying countries, behind nations such as Uruguay, Bulgaria and Chile. Less than 2.5% of children experience undernourishment, and Kazakhstan boasts an under-5 mortality rate due to hunger of 1%. However, even with low hunger levels, efforts to reduce hunger in Kazakhstan remain steady. Without reducing hunger levels, children’s growth can be stunted and malnourishment can cause future health problems, something the country has been trying to avoid following its post-Soviet rule.

Hunger in Kazakhstan: A New Food Crisis

While hunger in Kazakhstan has largely been eliminated, the country is taking a new approach to food accessibility and education. Now, the types of foods that Kazakhs are eating are not as nutritious as they could be. Almost 20% of children from ages six to nine are overweight, and only about one in three children consume fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. These eating habits are due in part to cultural practices of Kazakhs, as many come from nomadic cultures where food, mainly meat, had to be preserved with high levels of salt. This practice continues today, and both traditional and commercially produced food has extremely high levels of salt. The average salt intake in Kazakhstan has reached almost 17 grams a day, four times the WHO recommended daily limit. This makes Kazakhstan’s salt intake the highest in the world. Additionally, many Kazakh foods contain very high levels of trans fatty acids, which often connect with higher blood pressure, obesity, a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Without regulating and changing the food industries to guide consumers toward healthier options, Kazakhstan will be looking at increased medical costs for rising health issues related to nutrition.

Looking Forward to Solutions

To find solutions, Kazakhstan will need to include both healthy marketing techniques as well as provide more options for fresh fruits and vegetables. While it will be difficult to change traditional methods of food preparation, by including more fresh produce in food preparation Kazakhs can begin to reduce their salt and trans fatty acid intake, significantly improving their health. Additionally, while current levels of hunger in Kazakhstan are low, the coronavirus has impacted food prices and availability. Since January 2020, the costs of food have increased to be 11.3 % higher than they were in 2019. Global trade has been limited due to health and safety concerns, and since agriculture in Kazakhstan takes up a small percentage of its economy, accessing fresh produce during the pandemic has been difficult.

The country is making great strides toward reducing hunger in Kazakhstan and the effects of malnourishment within its borders. However, without an approach toward making healthy food accessible and informing citizens of healthy food practices, Kazakhstan is likely to see a rise in health concerns due to obesity and other non-communicable diseases. This process will take a coordinated effort from multiple areas of Kazakh society, but if Kazakhstan is successful in reducing obesity, the country will be well on its way to a full recovery from its history.

Julia Canzano
Photo: Pixabay

Kazakhstan’s Healthcare System
In the midst of a global health crisis, easy access to healthcare is more important than ever. Unfortunately, most people in Kazakhstan were already struggling with limited healthcare funding, high levels of chronic disease and restricted access to care prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the country’s daily new COVID-19 case numbers approached 2,000 in early July 2020, social reforms and organizations like the World Bank have worked to combat this crisis and improve healthcare in Kazakhstan.

Background

Kazakhstan is a country in Central Asia that Russia, China, the Caspian Sea and a number of former Soviet republics border. Once a member of the former Soviet Union, the world around Kazakhstan has shaped both it and its culture. The exploitation of its natural resources and the migration of surrounding peoples into the country have influenced its development and geography. A new movement to reinstate traditional Kazakh culture has resulted in various reforms in both its society and government, including reforms in healthcare.

Health and Kazakhstan’s Population

Poor diet, pollution and inadequate healthcare negatively affect the health of Kazakhstan’s population. Compared with the countries surrounding it, Kazakhstan’s infant mortality rate is one of the highest at 17.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. Additionally, Kazakhstan’s average life expectancy is at 72 years. Moreover, access to healthcare in rural areas has limitations. According to IntegratedCare4People, a website that the World Health Organization manages, the northern, rural region of Kostanay has 266 physicians per 100,000 people, while the rest of the country has, on average, 388 physicians per 100,000 people.

The Current Healthcare System

In the past, the healthcare system has failed to focus on the significance of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cancer, and blood pressure issues, focusing more on transmissible diseases. Recently, the government has expanded primary-care services (generalized care aiming to improve the life expectancy of a population) to combat the growing chronic disease mortality. The ultimate goal of Kazakhstan’s reforms is to transition to a universal healthcare system with greater cost transparency and a better quality of life. Over the years, the government has steadily increased healthcare funding and reduced the influence of private insurance.

The Shift Toward Universal Healthcare

The newest reform, the Compulsory Social and Medical Insurance (CSMI) program, which went into effect in January 2020, aims to create a single-payer healthcare system. The intent is for public insurance to pay for certain medical expenses and regulate healthcare quality. The goal of the program is to reduce out-of-pocket expenses (the cost of care that patients are responsible for), which made up 45.14% of Kazakhstan’s total health spending in 2014. However, despite steady growth in funding, healthcare financing in Kazakhstan is still very limited. Health spending makes up 3.1% of the GDP, in comparison with the global average of 9.89%, as of 2017. With an average yearly income of $26,300 per capita, Kazakhstan cannot achieve widespread public insurance without stimulating its economy.

The World Bank and Kazakhstan

In 2019, economic expansion caused wages in Kazakhstan to increase by 8.9% and poverty to decrease to 8.5%. Though the quick spread of COVID-19 in the country will likely backtrack some of these achievements, the World Bank has set up the Country Partnership Framework, a strategy for increasing economic support for Kazakhstan from 2020 until 2025. The goals of this framework are to expand economic diversity, minimize the healthcare gap between rural and urban areas, decrease carbon usage and increase energy efficiency. Part of the World Bank’s work in Kazakhstan includes offering grants to businesses to improve health and economic outcomes. The World Bank has sponsored and commercialized inventions like X-matrix (a wound dressing for burns) and invested in agricultural technology to boost Kazakhstan’s economy.

Healthcare in Kazakhstan is majorly dependent on its economy. While government funding for healthcare is far behind similar countries, the steady growth of business and investment will allow it to slowly increase. The effects of COVID-19 in Kazakhstan are meeting with productive and long-term funding from organizations like the World Bank. With steady growth and progress, Kazakhstan’s healthcare system and overall health should be able to improve over time.

Ann Marie Vanderveen
Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in KazakhstanPoverty in Kazakhstan compares to what small businesses around the world face now that COVID-19 has changed the game. Kazakhstan is not a developing country. It is not a top player in the international market either. It is somewhere in between. And with the new and confusing world that we live in now, Kazakhstan is going to have a difficult time maintaining its good trade relations.

Kazakhstan is Like a Small Business

COVID-19 has thrown the plight of small businesses around the world into the spotlight. Now more than ever people are realizing the struggle of small businesses to stay afloat during a pandemic among other larger businesses. Poverty in Kazakhstan is like a small business. It has been making headway in the global market, but now that the pandemic has hit, its economy will struggle to stay afloat among the other major players in the world economy, an economy that goes under spells with poverty in Kazakhstan for many of its citizens. With the GDP per capita increased by a factor of six, poverty in Kazakhstan has decreased. But, this upward trend may not hold if the pandemic continues to restrict the country’s international trade. According to the Asian Development Bank, Kazakhstan’s poverty rate is 4.2%.

The U.S.–Kazakhstan Relations

Trade relationships and federal direct investments are a key part of success for small countries like Kazakhstan. The U.S.–Kazakhstan relations have been thriving in past years, having signed the U.S.–Kazakhstan Bilateral Investment Treaty and the Treaty on the Avoidance of Dual Taxation. And this has improved Kazakhstan’s economy tremendously; in 2006, Kazakhstan became a part of the upper-middle-income bracket instead of the lower-middle-income bracket. Trade makes up 60.6% of Kazakhstan’s GDP. Federal direct investments allow for the country to focus on its largest economic contributors: mining and manufacturing.

A major country recognizing a state’s independence is a colossal benefit to a rising state; and that is exactly what the U.S. did for Kazakhstan when it was the first country to recognize their independence; the U.S. set up an Embassy and a Consulate General in Kazakhstan. Now that Kazakhstan has excellent relations with countries of the east and the west, perhaps it will be able to maintain its footing in the global economy. Kazakhstan has excellent relations with Russia, the Middle East and Asia and is completing its term on the Security Council of the U.N. These are great strides, but the progress that Kazakhstan’s economy has made may backslide because of the restriction that the pandemic has imposed on so many countries.

The Impact of COVID-19

 The World Bank states, “If the pandemic continues to spread and the external economic environment deteriorates further, GDP could contract by as much as 3 percent in 2020, which would significantly increase the poverty rate.” Two of its major cities – Almaty and Nur-Sultan – are already shut off from outsiders. Large corporations have been unable to get loans because the banks are too afraid that they will not be paid back. The deficit has already grown to 3.3% of the GDP as of 2019.

Here is a look at Kazakhstan’s predicted future in 2020:

  • 0.8% drop in GDP because of decreasing demand from foreign consumers and “COVID-19 mitigation measures sap[ping] consumer demand and investment.”

  • 6% of the GDP is predicted to be the increase of the deficit because of the aforementioned trade decline and the price of oil being lower.

In conclusion, Kazakhstan has become a thriving market over the years. It has excellent trade relations in almost every part of the world and its poverty rate has been reduced due to a bolstering in the economy. COVID-19 is affecting every country, though, and Kazakhstan is particularly vulnerable because its economy was still growing, and now may see regressions.

It isn’t all bad, though. The U.S. along with USAID are contributing to a relief fund that will give Kazakhstan $800,000. This money will go towards fighting the virus by preparing labs, tracking down cases, etc. Though the world is certainly not perfect, it is heartening to see the quick and unencumbered responses of countries to help each other.

Moriah Thomas
Photo: Pixabay

Sanitation in Kazakhstan
Access to safe drinking water and sanitation is critical for health and quality of life. As the last of the Soviet republics to declare independence in 1991, much of Kazakhstan’s population still faces the aftermath of the Soviet rule. Poor living conditions and limited access to water in rural populations worsened after the collapse of the Soviet Union. With structural elements of the state completely dismantled, the country faced shortages of basic goods and services, especially water. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Kazakhstan.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Kazakhstan

  1. Over half of the global population (4.2 billion people) lack safe sanitation. 2 out of 5 people in the world (3 billion people) lack basic hand washing facilities. In many parts of the world like Kazakhstan that have experienced recent economic, social or political turmoil, the ability to obtain safe and accessible water is a serious issue.
  2. Less than 30% of the Kazakhstan population has access to safe water and sanitation. About 50% of the population uses drinking water that does not meet the international standards of salinity, hardness and bacteriological standards.
  3. Before 1990, the rural water supply network in Kazakhstan included 54 major pipelines, bringing water to 3 million people in rural and urban areas. Additionally, 16.2 million livestock in 97.5 million hectares of irrigated land were supplied with water. Currently, the quality of nearly all Kazakhstan’s water bodies are unsatisfactory. Nearly 16 % of water tests taken from different water bodies showed sub-standard water quality across the country.
  4. Water scarcity and poor water quality are more prevalent in rural areas, where declining water supply networks and high pollution levels are common. In 2001, 17.3% of the rural Kazakhstan population had access to cold water on tap from the piped system, and 2.8% had access to hot water on tap. Many rural communities are still suffering from dilapidated Soviet-era plumbing projects, but even the functioning plumbing still carries water heavy with bacteria.
  5. According to the UNDP, the distribution of surface and groundwater in Kazakhstan is uneven. Central Kazakhstan has access to only 3% of the country’s water. While the Kazakhstani urban population is covered 90% by piped water, only 28% of the rural people have access to piped water. Around 20% of the rural population in Kazakhstan has the same level of piped water coverage as Sub-Saharan Africa.
  6. No significant changes in patterns of access to piped water have been noted in recent studies from 2001 to 2010. Access to piped water in Kazakhstan’s rural areas remains approximately 29%. These conditions may be surprising, given the massive governmental drinking water program launched from 2002 to 2010, aiming to increase rural access to piped water systems.
  7. Sanitation in rural areas also remains inadequate. In terms of bathroom facilities, 92.2% of the rural population has toilets outside the home, 7.5% inside the home and 0.3% do not have access to toilets at all. Previous UNDP studies show that only 2.8% of rural houses are connected to the sewage system.
  8. Water access affects a majority of those living in rural areas. Only 36% of the rural population has access to a centralized water supply. 57.3% use groundwater through wells and boreholes. Furthermore, 2.6% of the population use water from surface sources and 4% drink delivered water.
  9. Even in houses with connections to water supplies, 53% of people make sure to boil the water. The number climbs to 56% in areas where people have an intermittent supply or suffer from gastroenteritis. Such poor water quality can largely be explained by wastewater dumping, irregularities in wastewater disinfecting and the poor condition of sewerage equipment.
  10. One region where a lack of access to clean drinking water presents serious health problems is Kyrgyzstan. There, each official records 30,000 acute intestinal infections with 24% related to parasites. Up to 86% of typhoid cases occur in villages that lack safe drinking water.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) require nations to ensure sufficient sanitation and access to safe water. To improve sanitation in Kazakhstan, rural areas will need much stronger attention, as past efforts neglected and overlooked these areas, to comply with UN Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).

From 2010 to 2013, the UNDP provided $1.5 billion to the Kazakhstan government for water management. The money was meant for the Kazakhstan government to invest in water management, pollution reduction and efficient use of water resources. Additionally, the European Union has also been sharing its experience and policies with Kazakhstan.

Moving forward, it is critical that national drinking water programs are based on surveys of existing water and sanitation services. In order to be successful, these programs must take into special consideration the needs of rural villages.

Danielle Straus
Photo: Flickr

Water Competition and Efficiency in Kazakhstan
Former Soviet-controlled Kazakhstan has come a long way since the end of the Cold War. Despite becoming a more stable nation in the Middle East compared to its neighbors, it still struggles with water distribution and quality to this day. This article shall discuss these chief problems through water competition and efficiency in Kazakhstan.

Competition with China

As far as competition goes, Kazakhstan has a major problem in the form of China. Kazakhstan relies heavily on the Ili River for a good portion of its water supply and both countries connect to this valuable river. At the end of the day, China receives a larger share of the river than Kazakhstan. This is partly because the Ili River begins in China, and that China has 15.7 billion cubic meters of water flow into its borders every year. On the flip side, Kazakhstan only gets around half of that with 8.4 billion cubic meters. China states that it should have a larger share due to it being larger than Kazakhstan and the fact that Kazakhstan exploited the water profusely in the 1960s. In fact, Kazakhstan still does today at a rate of 42.7 percent which is over the 40 percent limit range.

Efficiency in Water Distribution

Kazakhstan has noted that it needs to exploit these waters due to its inability to give its population enough water or water that meets sanitary standards. This is partly due to the lack of efficient water distribution to people in certain parts of Kazakhstan. Meanwhile, Central Kazakhstan only receives 3 percent of the country’s water.

Another problem is that the government has been treating its water as an unlimited resource while it is becoming clear that it is very scarce. This lead to poor management of this water while leading the citizens into believing that the problem is not as dire as it seems.

Sanitation in Kazakhstan

Another issue that Kazakhstan has is that most of its drinking water is unsafe to ingest. Due to the aforementioned poor distribution and supply of the water within the country, the amount of clean water sits at only 30 percent. A key cause of poor distribution is that the water often stops in pipes, which allows it to collect bacteria and disease. These interruptions in water flow can occur 14 days a month and last as long as 12 hours. The fact that the pipes that flow this drinking water are also in the same trenches as sewer pipes, causing cross-contamination and a possible epidemic does not help matters. This only further highlights why water competition and efficiency in Kazakhstan is so important.

Course of Action

Kazakhstan is looking to revamp its water system by not just fixing its own, but also by importing water from outside sources, namely other neighboring countries. The government is also receiving support from the E.U.; it is helping to create policies that can help Kazakhstan better preserve its water for drinking and agricultural needs. The E.U. is also going so far as to provide new technology to better equip the country in preserving this water. This is not surprising since the E.U. also provided $1.5 billion to help with water management from 2010 to 2013. With all of this support, the government of Kazakhstan is hoping to increase its people’s access to clean, sustainable drinking water by 2030.

In this article about water competition and efficiency in Kazakhstan, it is clear that the country is in a rough patch to competition outside of its borders, as well as its poor management of the water it possesses. With the proper restructuring of its water system and outside help, the country should be able to improve this issue. With the E.U.’s continued help and allocated funds and resources to fix the contamination and distribution problems, Kazakhstan should be able to see a great increase in clean water.

Collin Williams
Photo: Flickr

Kazakhstan Bank Debts
Kazakhstan, located in Central Asia, has implemented a program to help nearly 500,000 citizens get out of bank debts. The program started in June 2019 and will cost over $274 million to execute. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev hopes that by forgiving bad loans given out by the country’s banks, Kazakhstan’s bank debts will decrease, releasing some of the strain on the economy. This policy will also help increase business in the banking sector of the economy, opening up more jobs for individuals below the poverty line.

4 Facts About Kazakhstan Bank Debts

  1. Kazakhstan’s economy has fallen in recent years. The country’s economic system rated 59 overall in 2019. The country has fallen by 3.7 points in the past few years and this is because of a steep decrease in its fiscal health. The unemployment rate is at 4.9 percent and the annual GDP is $477.6 billion. However, the economy’s fiscal health has faced a sharp decline. Over the past year, the country’s financial stability has steadily decreased due to poor working environments and high prices on goods. The country’s goal is to reduce Kazakhstan’s bank debts and increase financial security.

  2. Private banks caused the bank debts. One-sixth of Kazakhstan’s population holds bad loans written by private banks. Bank bailouts have been occurring in the country for a decade. The government provides at least $18 billion in private banks to keep their businesses running. Since Tokayev’s election in June 2019, he has introduced a policy to stop bank bailouts that the government provided.

  3. This is not necessarily a bad thing for poverty. Although the citizens holding bank debts may be living under the poverty line, the government’s forgiveness is a positive change. By ending Kazakhstan’s bank debts, the country’s monetary freedom should increase. Although this freedom grew in 2019, there is still plenty of room for growth. In 2018, 4.3 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. The debt release policy will help alleviate the debts of about 18 million people. About 500,000 people cannot manage their debts because of bank loans. The loan forgiveness policy will help individuals get rid of their debts so they can spend more money on essentials. By forgiving the loans, the country hopes to balance its economy. This will help individuals escape the poverty line, both through their lack of debts and through pay increases.

  4. The debt forgiveness policy is based on the amount owed. According to Kazakhstan’s president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, individuals with up to $800 of debt will have it forgiven completely. Individuals with over $800 will have $800 erased from their debt. This will help individuals like Anara Ryskulova, who has four small children and only makes $400 a month. Because of her low income, Ryskulova is dependent on credit and loans to provide for her family and pay her rent.

Since his election in June 2019, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has implemented a policy to stop bank bailouts. For a decade, the Kazakhstan government has been bailing out privately owned banks. The policy will not only increase the banking sector of the government but will also help the individuals who live below the poverty line. By decreasing the bank debts, affected individuals will have more money for essentials. By implementing this policy, Kazakhstan’s president will not only increase the country’s GDP but ultimately, help the citizens live above the poverty line.

Destinee Smethers
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Kazakhstan
Life expectancy in Kazakhstan has been steadily increasing since the mid-1990s. As the world’s largest landlocked country, Kazakhstan is a Central Asian nation that extends into two continents and is abundant with natural resources. Along with Kazakhstan’s increased life expectancy, the country is in a period of economic growth – its economy expanded by 4.1 percent in 2018 due strong private consumption and a higher number of oil exports. Subsequently, poverty in Kazakhstan has fallen to 7.4 percent. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Kazakhstan.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Kazakhstan

  1. As of July 2018, the population in Kazakhstan was 18.7 million making it the 63rd largest country in the world. With a life expectancy of 71.4 years at birth, women average 76.3 years for life expectancy compared to men at 66.2 years. There is a high mortality rate for men in the former Soviet Union regions due to alcoholism, alcohol-related incidents, diseases and suicide.
  2. The life expectancy rate in Kazakhstan is higher than in other Central Asian countries like Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. Kazakhstan even has a higher life expectancy rate than Russia, which borders the nation to the North.
  3. Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country by landmass with a population growth rate of 0.98 percent. The largest population clusters appear in the urban areas, both in the far northern and far southern parts of the nation. The interior region of Kazakhstan is mostly remote and uninhabitable.
  4. Rural areas tend to see slower development and infrastructure. While 99 percent of the urban drinking water sources have improved, only 85 percent of the rural population saw improvement. The 14.4 percent of unimproved drinking water sources in rural areas could be a factor in life expectancy rates due to various communicable diseases that thrive in poor hygienic conditions. Two prevalent diseases that affect Kazakh citizens – diarrhea and hepatitis A – are contracted easily from contaminated water.
  5. In less than two decades, Kazakhstan has transitioned from lower-middle-income to upper-middle-income status, according to The World Bank. The poverty rate in Kazakhstan is relatively low, with only 4.3 percent of inhabitants living below the poverty line. This is lower than the majority of Kazakhstan’s Central Asia and Middle East neighbors.
  6. While life expectancy has increased and child and maternal mortality rates have decreased, the government struggles to provide and balance basic health care systems in Kazakhstan. Hospitals are the keystone in health care delivery, with in-patient care utilizing 45 percent of the public health budget. The number of general practitioners and primary-care physicians in Kazakhstan is relatively low. The long lines and lack of specialists may daunt Kazakh citizens when receiving basic health care services.
  7. Kazakhstan is a relatively youthful country with only 7.9 percent of the population being 65 years or older. The largest age structure in Kazakhstan is the 25-54 group that makes up 42.3 percent, making the median age in Kazakhstan 30.9 years. The median age in the United States is 38.2.
  8. Education and literacy can be a factor in life expectancy due to the lifelong economic benefits of an education. Ninety-nine percent of Kazakhstan is literate and the country offers free mandatory education up to the end of high school.
  9. Lifestyle choices, such as diet, are important to note when understanding the factors that influence life expectancy in Kazakhstan. A traditional Kazakh diet is heavily meat-based. There is an abundance of preserved foods due to the diets of the early Kazakh nomads, which include salted or dried meats, fermented dairy products and pickled vegetables. Fresh vegetables are often deficient in the Kazakh diet.
  10. Economic opportunities help citizens to live longer, happier and more fulfilling lives. The Youth Corps Program in Kazakhstan works to support vulnerable youth by developing community projects. For example, a soft-toy making club for disabled youth in the town of Kapchagai provides young people with disabilities the chance to learn new skills and generate a source of income.

Kazakhstan has made significant progress in social and economic reforms in the decades since its independence from the Soviet Union. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Kazakhstan show that the average life expectancy has improved through a reduction of poverty rates and an emphasis on education. Development in rural regions and improving universal health care are imperative to keep Kazakhstan’s life expectancy on the rise.

– Trey Ross
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in KazakhstanKazakhstan is a fledgling nation striving for prosperity and stability throughout its vast territory. The country established itself as a sovereign nation after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then, Kazakhstan’s economy has been on the upswing, but that growth is overwhelmingly based on its vast oil reserves.

As Kazakhstan grows into its own identity, it has been trying to promote prosperity across its many regions. The following top 10 facts about living conditions in Kazakhstan illustrate the ways it is developing as a nation.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Kazakhstan

  1. Kazakhstan is the world’s ninth largest nation. Kazakhstan is vast and at 1,052,090 sq. miles, it is the world’s largest landlocked country. Kazakhstan is also one of only two landlocked countries that reach across two continents, Asia and Europe. Most of the land (77.4 percent) is agricultural. The standard of living in Kazakhstan depends largely on the region. The level of poverty varies widely between states or oblasts. Access to quality housing, education and medical services also vary by oblast.
  2. Kazakhstan’s government is actively working toward reducing inequality and increasing economic opportunities through programs like the Kazakhstan 2050 strategy.
  3. Kazakhstan’s leadership is changing. Since gaining independence in 1991, Nursultan Nazarbayev has been Kazakhstan’s president. Nazarbayev announced his resignation on March 19, 2019, on national television. Kassym-Jormat Tokayev, the chairman of the Kazakh Senate, will serve as interim president until the election in 2020. Nazarbayev, an autocrat, will continue to wield a high level of influence over the government. Nazarbayev’s daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva, will become the new speaker of the Senate.
  4. Most of the population live in urban areas. The rest of the population lives throughout a vast territory. A majority of Kazakhstan’s population (57.4 percent) live in urban centers in the far northern and southern regions of the country, especially in the cities of Almaty and Astana (the capital). Astana has unique and opulent architecture, a memorial to the heavy concentration of oil money in urban centers. The center of the country has a very low population density. The rural areas of Kazakhstan are more likely to have more poverty and less benefit from economic growth.
  5. Kazakhstan’s economy is based heavily on oil production and its economy is over-reliant on oil production. The primary producers are the Tengiz field and the colossal Kashagan field, which just started producing in 2016. The vast reserves of oil in Kazakhstan have helped the country enjoy relatively consistent economic growth since claiming independence.
  6. Kazakhstan is trying to diversify its economy with railroad manufacturing. Kazakhstan is attempting to spend its oil wealth on new industries to offset its heavy dependence on oil. The premier industry is railroad manufacturing. The state-owned railroad empire, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ), is aggressively expanding with $3.1 billion invested in 2013. Kazakhstan hopes to become a global leader in railroad production. The industry employed one in every 54 people in 2013.
  7. Kazakhstan is Central Asia’s breadbasket. Agriculture in Kazakhstan is less than 5 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) but employs almost one-fifth of its population. As the world’s seventh largest wheat exporter, Kazakhstan is crucial to food security throughout the region. Droughts in Kazakhstan can be devastating, reducing harvests sixfold.
  8. The state owns and controls most of the broadcast media companies in Kazakhstan. The Kazakh government owns almost all of the radio and TV networks. Cellular telephone and internet usage are on the rise, including a vast 4G network.
  9. Overall, Kazakhstan has a low number of people below the poverty line. Only 2.6 percent of the entire population is below the internationally standardized poverty line. However, poverty is still a problem, especially in certain regions. Poor housing conditions affected 28 percent of the population, low education rates affected 11 percent and low consumption affected 15 percent.
  10. Kazakhstan has relied on Russia as a trade partner but is trying to diversify. Kazakhstan exports 78 percent of its oil production. Historically, Kazakhstan has relied on Russia to distribute its oil throughout Europe. More recently it has been trying to grow new trade partnerships, especially with China to counteract over-reliance on Russia.

The above top 10 facts about living conditions in Kazakhstan depict both the struggles and the successes of a young nation. With the help of international partners like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Kazakhstan can continue to manage its economic growth and address regional disparities.

– Peter S. Mayer
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Girls' Education in Kazakhstan
In 2012, Kazakhstan‘s President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced the ambitious Kazakhstan 2050 plan to make this Central Asian nation one of the world’s 30 most developed. Much of the plan revolves around the economic activity, but a crucial secondary function is to bolster and expand the country’s education system. Since Kazakhstan 2050 was kicked off, substantial strides have been made regarding making education and schools more accessible and high quality for all citizens. However, there are still barriers in place that prevent girls from utilizing of Kazakhstan’s growing scholastic offerings. In the article below, the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Kazakhstan are presented.

Top 10 Facts about Girls’ Education in Kazakhstan

  1. The topic of sex is very taboo in Kazakhstan, and as a result, there is no structure in place to educate young people about safe sex and health. State-level plans across the board offer very little, and the national Ministry of Education supplies nothing at all. Without a syllabus for teachers or schools and a cultural inability to discuss sex, the birth rate for girls ages from 15 to 19 years is 28 per 1,000. This rate coincides with a 20 percent decrease in gross enrollment of girls from lower to upper secondary school, where students are typically from 16 to 18 years old.
  2. In January 2017, the Ministry of Education passed a decision that all schools, except for universities, would require students to wear uniforms, and that religious garments of any kind would be banned. In schools across the country, substantial portions of female students refused to attend until the ban is lifted. In one school, 73 percent of hijab-wearing students refused to comply. Dissenters maintain the ban is unconstitutional.
  3. Human Development Indices and Indicators report illustrate problems with education and outcomes in Kazakhstan. The report uses the Gender Development Index that measures inequalities in achievement in three basic dimensions of human development: health, education and command over economic resources, which is measured by Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. The difference between male and female GNI is more than $11,000 and 12 percent more of the male population participate in the country’s labor force.
  4. In 2017, the Kazakhstan government invested $56 million in support of female entrepreneurship in order to improve upon the substantial job increase caused by female-owned small and medium enterprises. Additionally, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) kicked off a Women in Business program in 2015, that provides female-owned businesses with designates credit lines.
  5. Access to primary and secondary school is a constitutional right in Kazakhstan and education is compulsory from 7 to 15 ages, ending before the final two years of secondary school. The last nine years have seen a decline in primary school enrollment, dropping from 90 percent in 2008 to only 86 percent in 2017. However, secondary school enrollment has trended in the opposite direction with net enrollment improving from 90 percent in 2010 to 99.85 percent in 2017.
  6. While primary and secondary enrollment rates for boys and girls are mostly equal, far more women pursue advanced degrees. Around 64 percent of students pursuing masters degrees and 58 percent of doctoral students are women. Women with advanced degrees most often go into education, health and administrative working fields, while men tend towards technical fields.
  7. While there is little gender disparity in the national rate for the attendance of primary school, the regional metrics show that girls in certain locations are more likely to miss out on primary education. In East Kazakhstan, the net attendance for boys is 90 percent while girls attendance is only 72 percent.
  8. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a comparative study of the learning outcomes of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science. Kazakhstan’s results show no significant differences between girls and boys, whereas other participating countries on average see an 11 point difference in mathematics. However, PISA does reveal that rural students tend to lag behind their urban counterparts. To stem this tide the Kazakhstan Ministry of Education and Science has partnered with the World Bank to kick off the Modernization of Secondary School. The program will last for 17 years and $75 million will be spent on improvement of the quality of education to reduce the gap between rural and urban schools, and to support inclusive education.
  9. Kazakhstan has entirely closed its gender gap in regards to educational attainment. In September 2018, Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Education and Science announced a collaborative plan to bring better education to women in Afghanistan. In collaboration with the EU and the governments of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, the unnamed program allocates $2.3 million for training and educating women.
  10. A study conducted by the Asian Development Bank found that the overwhelming majority of college and vocational students in STEM fields were men. In order to overcome the antiquated beliefs that push women towards certain jobs and fields, the International Youth Foundation partnered with Chevron to start the Zangar Initiative. This program is meant to stimulate students interests in STEM fields while in primary and secondary school and establishes after-school clubs for students to combine their math and science lessons with engineering design processes to address real-world problems.

Kazakhstan’s aspiration to be one of the world’s most developed nations seems very likely considering the progress the country has made in recent history. By investing in and rethinking the educational system, Kazakhstan shows the importance of education for the country’s future and that, in order for the country to realize its potential, so must its citizens regardless of their gender. Educating women is a must when achieving the status of a prosperous nation.

– Nick Sharek

Photo: UNICEF

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan, a country of 18 million inhabitants located between Russia and China, has been battling poverty since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The following top 10 facts about poverty in Kazakhstan show that despite the country’s independent economy being so young, there is a lot to be hopeful for about the future of the Kazakh economy.

This hope, in turn, leads to more programs and opportunities that help to alleviate poverty; however, Kazakhstan’s economic infrastructure still remains a somewhat volatile environment — despite booming energy and agricultural industries — due to corruption and over-dependence on global energy markets.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Kazakhstan

  1. Kazakhstan has a large agriculture market and is the sixth largest wheat producer in the world. The agriculture industry employs nearly 18 percent of the nation’s working population but only yields between 5-7 percent of their GDP. Nearly 80 percent of cultivation is done with machinery near the end of its lifecycle — local production of tractors, combines and other farm machinery are mostly non-existent, causing a large tab for importing expensive farming equipment mostly from Russia. This low return on investment (ROI) for Kazakh farmers leaves little to pay a significant percentage of its workforce; this lack can then leaves employees in the agricultural industry near or below the poverty line.
  2. Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Agriculture launched a $158 million initiative to establish cooperatives to support small to medium-sized farms. These coops aim to help offset the low ROI for small, rural farmers by helping with buying new machinery, storage and transport products, veterinary services and other business costs.
  3. Kazakhstan is the world’s third largest producer of oil. Oil sales account for roughly a quarter of Kazakhstan’s GDP and about 60 percent of its total exports. The nation also has massive reserves of natural gas, coal and uranium. Astana, Kazakhstan was host city to EXPO 2017 for Future Energies. Due to Kazakhstan’s over-dependence on sales of oil and material reserves, its economy is still largely at the mercy of worldwide energy prices. The sharp decline of oil prices in 2014 had such a widespread effect on the Kazakh economy that its currency — tenge — was devalued by 23 percent by 2015.
  4. Chevron invested $36.8 billion for an expansion to Kazakhstan’s Tengiz oil field. The massive Kashagan field also began production in October 2016 after years of delays and $55 billion in development costs. Kazakhstan had a 10.5 percent increase in oil production in 2017, helping the economy climb back after the spike in oil prices in 2014.
  5. The poverty rate in Kazakhstan is actually quite low. Those living below the $1.90/day rate in Kazakhstan was estimated to be 2.6 percent in 2016, and the unemployment rate was estimated to be 5 percent in 2017, according to the CIA World Fact Book. These numbers, though promising, are quite deceptive. Kazakhstan’s annual income per capita in 2017 was only $3,010, which equals about $8.25 per day.
  6. Corruption is rampant in Kazakhstan. Companies cite corruption as being the number one constraint for doing business in Kazakhstan, according to a 2016 GAN Business Anti-Corruption report. Earlier this year, former Kazakh Economy Minister, Kuandyk Bishimbayev, was sentenced to 10 years on corruption charges. This comes just three years after a case was brought against 21 Kazakh public officials on corruption-related charges.
  7. Kazakhstan suffers from a complex form of regional poverty disparity. Since Kazakhstan is quite young, the government is still underdeveloped in rural areas. The U.N. is working with Kazakhstan to address this phenomenon. Developing infrastructure and education opportunities in poor, rural areas is just a few examples of how they are addressing the problem.
  8. Kazakhstan has achieved nearly 100 percent literacy rate. Kazakhstan has an estimated 99.8 percent literacy rate and a school life expectancy (the total number of years a student can expect to go to school) of 15 years — from primary schools to tertiary educations (such as universities) and trade schools. Kazakhstan currently has a $67 million loan from the World Bank Group for modernizing education. The objectives of this loan are to improve curricular standards, increase learning outcomes in rural and disadvantaged schools and increase citizen engagement.
  9. The World Economic Forum ranked Kazakhstan 57th out of 144 countries in its 2017 Global Competitiveness Rankings. This ranking represents a falling of four spots from the previous report. The cause of this decline in ranking, and the “most problematic factors for doing business” with Kazakhstan, according to the report, include lack of access to funding, corruption and an inadequately educated workforce.
  10. Kazakhstan has a thriving NGO sector. One such NGO is Wonder Foundation, based out of the U.K. Wonder is a charity dedicated to helping girls, women and their families access education and support needed to defeat poverty. The organization is currently working on helping young women gain access to skills, educations and rights in Almaty and the surrounding area.

A Young, But Mighty Nation 

These top 10 facts about poverty in Kazakhstan prove that poverty is not an insurmountable problem for the Central Asian state. The country’s GDP is steadily climbing while the nation works to be a major player in the oil and raw materials markets.

Kazakhstan also works to diversify their trading portfolio, enacting state programs to bolster secondary industries in the country and improve working and living conditions for their residents.

Economic sustainability is a slow and steady process, and Kazakhstan is heading in the right direction. At just 27 years old, these top 10 facts about poverty in Kazakhstan are indicative of a young country that has the potential to be at the forefront of world oil and agriculture markets and, someday, a significant participant in the global economy.

– Nicholas Hodges
Photo: Flickr