Healthcare Improvements in KyrgyzstanHealthcare is an important concern for the government of Kyrgyzstan and has been for many years. Kyrgyzstan has introduced multiple reforms of its healthcare system since 1996. As of 2019, about eight percent of the country’s GDP has been spent on the healthcare system. Kyrgyzstan’s efforts to improve their healthcare manifest in several ways. For example, life expectancy rose from 66.5 years in 1996 to 71.0 years in 2016. In order to fully appreciate the reforms, aid and healthcare improvements in Kyrgyzstan, it is important to understand the state of the country’s healthcare system prior to reforms and improvements.

Healthcare in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan was a Soviet Republic during the Cold War. The country had free and universal healthcare financed by the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Health. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, healthcare within the country of Kyrgyzstan began to decline. The healthcare system’s decline in Kyrgyzstan’s during this period was partly due to the lack of medical necessities. Because of their crumbling healthcare system, Kyrgyzstan needed reforms. Long after their independence from the Soviet Union, they have made these reforms.

The government has recently launched two initiatives to promote healthcare improvements. The first is the Primary Health Care Quality Improvement Program. The purpose of this program is threefold. First, to improve the quality of healthcare services. Secondly, to increase access to and quality of healthcare services. Finally, to establish better governance over the healthcare system to ensure the program is successful. The program is still in its early stages. It was approved in 2019 and will last until 2024.

Kyrgyzstan has ensured better healthcare delivery to its people by partnering with USAID to eradicate tuberculosis (TB) from the country; each year, the country faces roughly 8,000 cases of TB. Of those roughly 8,000 cases, about 1,300 are drug-resistant TB which is much more difficult to treat.

In response, Kyrgyzstan makes use of the USAID Cure Tuberculosis project. The project provides $18.5 million to the country of Kyrgyzstan in order for medical professionals to provide the necessary care for people who have the drug-resistant form of tuberculosis.

With these two programs active, the government hopes to bring about more healthcare improvements in Kyrgyzstan for people in general and for those specifically suffering from drug-resistant tuberculosis.

– Jacob Lee
Photo: Wikimedia

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country in Central Asia with a population of 6.4 million. Since its independence from Russia in 1991, Kyrgyzstan has had unstable political conditions, leading to poor health conditions. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Kyrgyzstan.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Kyrgyzstan

  1. The average life expectancy in Kyrgyzstan is 71 years. For men, life expectancy is around 68 years, while women generally live 75 years. This represents a significant increase over the last 10 years, rising from an average of 67.7 years in 2010. However, the life expectancy in Kyrgyzstan still remains below the average in Asia, which is 79 years. It also falls behind other Central Asian countries, as the average life expectancy in Central Asia is 70 years for men and 76 years for women.
  2. The mortality rate for children under 5 in Kyrgyzstan is 20 per 1,000 live births. Comparatively, the average mortality rate for children under 5 in developing countries in Europe and Central Asia is 11 per 1,000 live births. Still, Kyrgyzstan has made much progress on reducing the mortality rate for young children over the past 20 years; in 1990, the mortality rate for children under 5 was 65 per 1,000 live births.
  3. Ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death and disability in Kyrgyzstan. The rate of ischemic heart disease in Kyrgyzstan is significantly higher than the rates in other low-and-middle-income countries. In fact, 4,628.7 per 100,000 deaths in Kyrgyzstan are caused by ischemic heart disease, while the average rate for other low-and-middle-income countries is 3,036.7 per 100,000 deaths. The second most common cause of death in Kyrgyzstan is stroke.
  4. Kyrgyzstan’s sanitation and drinking water services have a significant impact on the health of its population. Around 93 percent of the population has access to basic sanitation services and piped water services reach 58 percent of the nation. Additionally, the practice of open defecation is not found in the country, contributing to more sanitary conditions.
  5. As of 2015, the maternal mortality rate in Kyrgyzstan is 76 per 100,000 live births. Maternal mortality has remained high in the nation for the past two decades, barely decreasing from 1990 when the maternal mortality rate was 80 per 100,000 live births. This is in spite of the fact that 99 percent of all births in Kyrgyzstan are attended by a skilled professional.
  6. In Kyrgyzstan, there are approximately 1.9 doctors and 6.4 nurses per 1,000 people, according to World Bank data from 2014. This is lower than the average for low-and-middle-income countries in Europe and Central Asia, which is approximately three physicians per 1,000 people. Kyrgyzstan has made improvements, however, as the rate was approximately 2.5 doctors per 1,000 people in 2008.
  7. Kyrgyzstan has made reforms to its health care system three times since 2001, with the goal of improving the availability and quality of medical services. A mandatory health insurance fund has been in place since the 1990s and on average people in Kyrgyzstan pay 39 percent of the total cost of their health services. However, a lack of pharmacy price regulation and the devaluation of the national currency led to a 20 percent increase in co-payments for reimbursed medicine in outpatient care increased between 2013 and 2015, driving up out-of-pocket costs.
  8. Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Health and Mandatory Health Insurance Fund will implement a new Primary Health Care Quality Improvement Program between 2019 and 2024. This program is largely funded by the World Bank, which is contributing nearly $20 million. Alongside this program is the country’s new health strategy for 2019-2030: “Healthy Person – Prosperous Country.” The government of Kyrgyzstan recognizes that strengthening the primary health care system is essential to improving lives, particularly for the impoverished.
  9. The impoverished — which account for 25.6 percent of the population — and those living remotely in the mountains are most likely to experience malnutrition in Kyrgyzstan. UNICEF estimates that 22 percent of all child deaths occur due to malnutrition and almost 18 percent of all Kyrgyz children are malnourished. Malnutrition causes stunting, low birth weight and vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can have a life-long effect on one’s health and wellbeing.
  10. Education is also an important factor contributing to health and life expectancy. In Kyrgyzstan, education is mandatory for nine years between the ages of 7 and 15. UNICEF notes that many children drop out after grade nine when this mandatory education ends, as only 59 percent for boys and 56 percent for girls attend upper secondary school. Quality of education is another challenge for the nation, with more than 50 percent of children not meeting the basic level of achievement in reading, math and science.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Kyrgyzstan shed light on health and living conditions in the nation. With new health initiatives being undertaken in the country, there is hope that life expectancy rates will continue to improve.

Navjot Buttar

Hydroelectric Power in Kyrgyzstan
The increasing demand for centralized electrical power has put growing pressure on the government to modernize Kyrgyzstan’s hydroelectric capacity. 1“’s government has sanctioned the expansion of its energy infrastructure to mitigate extreme poverty and improve access to fundamental necessities in rural communities. As a focal point of its export economy, hydroelectric power modules supply 76 percent of its electricity. With lowering water inflow and deteriorating infrastructure, Kyrgyzstan faces a unique problem in mitigating and expanding its hydroelectric import/export industry while balancing the rampant poverty and income inequality among rural and urban communities. The surrounding Kyrgyzstan economy relies mostly on agricultural cultivations and the cotton export industry. With the increased development of modules of hydroelectric power in Kyrgyzstan, the controlled water supply offers the potential for massive growth in the agricultural industry. As a renewable energy source, hydroelectric energy provides the potential to control the rate at which the water flows and of the amount used, which is crucial to energy production.

Socioeconomic Implications

Traditional agricultural methods that rural communities commonly practice create the potential for extensive economic growth through the implementation of an updated hydroelectric system. Through a controlled system, the irrigation of various crops is more efficient with a renewable energy source that has less pollution. With substantial economic implications, hydroelectric power in Kyrgyzstan encourages more commercial enterprises to migrate to agrarian areas where people cannot access basic public services like running water and education as easily.

With 32 percent under the poverty line, the need for a centralized hydroelectrical grid can have vast socioeconomic implications, with an improved water supply system and improved access to basic health necessities. With Kyrgyzstan’s main hydroelectric infrastructure outdated and in need of a sufficient upgrade the inconsistency attached to this older hydroelectric module creates insecurity in basic necessities. With access to basic social programs tentative on ideal weather conditions in urban communities, the expansion of clean renewable energy sources can potentially create an influx of economic prosperity and improve energy efficiency throughout the country.

A focused effort toward improving consistent energy output will allow the quality of life to improve and give the impoverished a promising start toward economic mobility with increasing hydroelectric power in Kyrgyzstan. Reducing toxic chemicals put into the air from traditional cooking/heating methods in rural communities can allow room for a more comprehensive hydropower infrastructure. Rural communities on average tend to use more fossil fuels with more than 60 percent using those perishables due to inconsistencies within hydroelectric distribution and no updated grid system that would make those other methods obsolete.

Government Legislation

Since its independence, Kyrgyzstan established a network of standard practice in energy distribution with a comprehensive legislative agenda. People are underutilizing the potential for an increased hydroelectric presence as a larger kinetic energy source with geographically crucial bodies of water producing 5-8 billion kW·h per year and the country only using 3 percent. A more consistent hydroelectric grid is necessary for Kyrgyzstan’s economy to boost its agricultural sector. The government introduced the National Energy Program that assists in renovating abandoned hydropower plants and initiates constructing new ones. Additionally, government sectors have committed to actively work on the cultivation of Kyrgyzstan’s massive untapped energy sector. Along with a growing private sector and updated technology to improve the essential food and health infrastructures hydroelectric power in Kyrgyzstan will increase the capacity of its economy.

Adam Townsend
Photo: Flickr

 agricultural sector

Kyrgyzstan is a mostly mountainous country situated between Kazakhstan and China. Its population is mostly Kyrgyz, with an Uzbek minority. Most of the population lives in the flatland regions, with only sparse settlements in the mountains themselves. The country also ranks as one of the poorest countries in the world, with numerous contributing factors to its low GDP, including the agriculture sector in Kyrgyzstan. Since leaving the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan has lacked a reliable source of resources and funds beyond their own borders; and despite trade, they struggle economically with exports.

Compounding poverty, the agricultural sector of Kyrgyzstan also remains underdeveloped despite the nation’s progress. Despite accounting for 40 percent of the country’s labor force, agricultural workers experience widespread poverty and food shortages, especially those living in rural areas. The lack of progress and modernization in this area is coupled with a combination of economic weakness and lack of oversight from a shifting government to create a stagnant environment. However, the aid programs discussed below are boosting the agricultural sector.

Agriculture in Kyrgyzstan is mostly a local affair. Families grow food for themselves in what is called “sustenance farming.” Large-scale commercial farming is still small compared to similar operations in other countries. Despite this, several foreign aid programs have been implemented to improve the agricultural sector.

Aid Programs – IFAD

IFAD is an organization dedicated to helping rural communities in developing nations. Through low-interest loans and investments in helping poor households and communities, they help spur growth in these sectors and countries. In Kyrgyzstan, they focus specifically on improving livestock productivity and improving livestock farmers’ access to better markets.

The funded programs provide training in techniques for rural farmers while guiding them to better markets. These programs teach better business practices, which leads to greater earning potentials for families. Finally, natural disaster insurance is also provided for these same households and communities, protecting families against extreme weather.

USAID’s Farmer-to-Farmer program

One of two major agricultural endeavors in Kyrgyzstan, the Farmer-to-Farmer project was a program implemented over five years, finishing in 2018. Similar to IFAD, the program focused on families and communities who relied on small farms and agribusinesses for income. This included providing agricultural training to improve yield as well as business training to improve market reliability and profit. Without proper training, small farming businesses often yield small quantities of product not enough to constitute “food security.”
By the time the program was complete, 21 agricultural education assignments were completed. These included the education of local businesses – leading to newly established guidelines and quality standards for food – as well as students and graduate students of agriculture. The program reached a total of 4,320 recipients, with 3672 successfully trained.

Agro Horizon

The other major agricultural endeavor of USAID in Kyrgyzstan, Agro Horizon, is still ongoing. Partnering with several corporations, Agro Horizon has provided over $30 million dollars in aid. The focus has been on the commercialization and industrialization of Kyrgyzstan’s agriculture in an effort to make it more profitable.
The program’s investments have taken several forms, both in modernizing production and processing methods, as well as grants and training opportunities for over 100,000 households. Thanks to a partnership with a local agricultural producer, the first commercial-scale production of safflower seed was launched. Similarly, the first Kyrgyz modern slaughterhouse following international standards was established. The program has already helped establish 1,200 jobs providing more stable income than previous.

There are still many opportunities to improve agriculture in Kyrgyzstan. Areas of untapped potential and continued aid stand to make agriculture in the country not just sustainable, but profitable. So long as aid for the agricultural sector in Kyrgyzstan continues, Kyrgyztan’s agriculture sector might be able to pull itself up from its current state.

– Mason Sansonia
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts Living Conditions in Kyrgyzstan
Windswept valleys and snowy mountains characterize the landscape of Kyrgyzstan. Yurts, round tents covered with skins or felt, are a common sight in rural areas. This represents a legacy from nomadic ancestors. Legally speaking, the nation itself is a young one, having officially come into existence in 1990. However, the nation’s cultural roots are far deeper than that.

Descending from nomadic forbearers, animal husbandry is heavily practiced in rural areas. Felt making and carpet weaving are still common household skills. In the 20th century, the country found itself as a part of USSR, remaining a member state for decades. Soviet culture would go on to shape national language, infrastructure and politics. The top 10 facts about living conditions in Kyrgyzstan represented in the text below will provide a better insight into the struggles and progress of a country that is both very young and very old at the same time. 

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Kyrgyzstan

  1. The first peaceful transfer of presidential power happened in 2017. On Nov. 24, 2017, Sooronbai Jeenbekov was inaugurated as president. It was the first normal presidential transfer since the writing of the constitution since each of the previous regimes was overthrown by a people revolt, in 2005 and in 2010 respectively.
  2. Public schools have high attendance rates. Under the national constitution, basic education (until ninth grade) is guaranteed and mandatory. Secondary education (beyond ninth grade), is also guaranteed to anyone who wants it. In recent years, great progress has been made in youth education. From 2010 to 2014, the number of non-attending youth shrunk from 25,000 to 8,000.
  3. As of 2015, approximately 32 percent of Kyrgyzstani’s live below the international poverty line. More than 67 percent of all poor live in rural communities, where transportation costs represent a significant part of the total cost of basic goods and services.
  4. Women’s workforce participation is helping to reduce poverty. To alleviate poverty the Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment Program (sponsored by the U.N.) operates in 73 villages across the country. This service enables rural women to open their own businesses, either utilizing their traditional skills (felt making, farming and baking) or by training them in new areas such as cell-phone repair.
  5. Kyrgyzstan has the highest rate of bridal kidnap in the world. U.N. cited estimates that suggest that 35-45 percent of all marriages involve some form of abduction. Roughly 43 girls are taken every day. While data is difficult to collect as the crimes are often hidden, high motherhood rates and reports of under-age marriage signal that this issue is far from resolved.
  6. A local nongovernmental organization is helping young women defend themselves. Started in 2016, the National Federation of Female Communities (NFFCK) trains girls to protect themselves against threats and violence. During the past two years, this organization has helped save 41 girls from forced marriage, given practical support to 482 girls, provided 1,682 consultations on child marriage and educated more than 12,000 young women.
  7. Water infrastructure is inadequate and falling into disrepair. The Soviet government built the entirety of Kyrgyzstan’s water infrastructure between 40 and 50 years ago. Almost half of the water is lost, spilling through the decrepit pipes, leaving distribution efficiency at 55 percent. Low coverage is a national problem that is more acute in urban areas, leaving cities with less than 40 percent of the amount they need.
  8. The village of An-Oston now has its water system reestablished with the help of the organization called Women Engage for A Common Future Construction (WECF). Before the house plumbing connections were rebuilt in 2015, villagers had to carry drinking water in pots from the local lake. Due to the WECF’s work, all 225 homes in the village have plumbing reestablished and have 24-hour access to potable water.  
  9. Malnutrition, not starvation, is the biggest food-related problem. A very small part of the country, 1.2 percent, struggles to eat the minimum number of calories per day. However, malnutrition and consequential stunted growth are dangerously common. Thirteen percent of children under the age of 5 are believed to have stunted growth. In Jalal-Abad (the most heavily affected area), that rate is as high as 21.3 percent.  
  10. The World Food Programme helps feed thousands of children in schools. As of 2017, due to the World Food Programme’s efforts with the government, 260 schools have been able to implement a sustainable meal plan for their students. Over 60,000 children under the age of 5 were provided school meals and an additional 213,000 children (aged between 5 and 18) were able to eat nutritious meals because of this program.

Many of these top 10 facts about living conditions in Kyrgyzstan demonstrate that progress is being made despite the terrible problems the Kyrgyzstani people face. There are many organizations and people that take steps toward bringing safety, stability and prosperity to their neighbors every day. Although the road ahead of the country will be a difficult one, all journeys begin with a single step.

– John Glade  
Photo: Flickr

St. Petersburg
On April 3, 2017, 14 people died and 64 were injured when an explosive device detonated in the St. Petersburg metro. The perpetrator, Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, who also died in the explosion, came to St. Petersburg in 2011 from Osh, Kyrgyzstan to work as a car mechanic. Upon reviewing Dzhalilov’s online record and talking with witnesses, Russia’s Federal Security Services found links to Islamist websites on his social media, as well as evidence that he had become withdrawn and quiet two months before his suicide bombing.

The St. Petersburg attack brought Russia’s approach to counter-extremism to the spotlight. More than 2,000 Russians have gone off to fight for ISIS, making Russia the largest contributor of ISIS fighters. While some of these fighters harbor resentments dating back to ethnic wars in the 1990s, others saw ISIS as an opportunity to escape from poor economic opportunities and blatant discrimination at home.

History of Chaos

When the Soviet Union fell in 1991, Chechnya, a majority Muslim, southern region of Russia, descended into chaos. Boris Yeltsin, the first president of Russia, pushed for a decentralization of government but would not go as far as to legitimize Chechen separatists’ independence movement. Interethnic conflict engulfed the Caucasus region, with hundreds of thousands of Ingush people and Chechens fleeing from the destruction of their communities. This legacy of insurgency and violence is one of the main causes of radicalization in Russia, especially in the Northern Caucasus, which remains Russia’s most radicalized region even today.

Radical Islamists tend to be concentrated in cities with high concentrations of migrant workers, particularly in the oil-producing cities of Tyumen and Khanty-Mansiysk. In fact, close to 200,000 Chechens, Ingush and Dagestanis live in West Siberia.


Labor migrants from Central Asia face xenophobia after arriving in Russia. In August 2016, one poll administered by the Levada Center found that 52 percent of Russians believe in a “Russia for ethnic Russians.” The same poll found that 39 percent of Russians feel that immigrants destroy Russian culture. Feeling out-of-place as a minority, these migrants seek community and protection in local mosques, breeding grounds for recruitment into radical Islamic groups. In fact, mosques are the main sites of recruitment, according to the Search for Common Good Organization.

Law enforcement and security agencies alienate Muslims by promulgating propaganda that belittles their beliefs. A Wilson Center report details how law enforcement officials in Russia plant drugs while searching the homes of Muslims, only to arrest and jail them later. Intimidated by state pressure, these Muslims seek recluse in the ranks of ISIS.

Social Media

In order to target and entice potential recruits, terrorist groups use social media and online forums. VKontakte, a popular Russian social media site, was the go-to for ISIS supporters and recruiters until the company began shutting down content that promoted the terrorist group in September 2014. To work around these restrictions, ISIS now uses its own Furat Media to disseminate propaganda.

Russia has implemented stringent counter-extremism laws, to the point that some critics worry about an invasion of piracy. A 2014 Extremism Law gave authorities the power to ban websites and social media accounts without a court order. In the span of 11 months, between February and December 2015, Russia banned 512 websites. Moreover, the 2016 Yarovaya Law forces digital providers to store clients’ data for a minimum of six months and make these records available to the Federal Security Services.

Financial Woes

Extremist groups recruit financially vulnerable migrants with promises of stable jobs and a network of support. More than 28 percent of interviewees in a survey by the Search for Common Ground organization said that the prospect of stable jobs and salaries attracted them to ISIS recruiters. This issue is compounded for undocumented migrants in Russia, who are much more vulnerable financially.

While the Russian government’s counter-extremism laws are harsh, its official rhetoric against its Muslim population, 11.7 percent according to the Pew Research Center, has the unintended consequence of promoting radicalization.

The time is now for Russia to consider more than just its censorship of extremist content. The country must, first and foremost, eradicate the root causes of radicalization, addressing state-sponsored discrimination, financial insecurity and minority rights.

– Mark Blekherman
Photo: Flickr

47. Credit Access in the Kyrgyz Republic
Kyrgyzstan, though still scarred by a violent government coup d’etat in 2010, has seen robust economic growth thanks to international investment in its agribusiness and energy production industries. National GDP has grown at an average of 4 percent annually since 2015. However, the landlocked Central Asian country still struggles with a pronounced lack of domestic consumption expenditure. Improving low levels of credit access in Kyrgyzstan can boost consumer spending and confidence, which is paramount to ensuring a viable financial future for its citizens.

The Economic Importance of Credit

Credit is integral to the maintenance and growth of a market economy. Individuals and private organizations borrow money to buy goods and services in the market, which raises production and stimulates the consumer economy. Once credit debt and loans are paid back, the cycle continues again and again. It logically follows that if more consumers have access to a reliable credit system that provides loans, the economy expands and poverty is reduced.

This reasoning backs the approach that international multilateral organizations such as the World Bank and the U.N. employ in their efforts to combat poverty. In Kyrgyzstan, agriculture is by far the largest sector of the economy, employing about 40 percent of the working population and comprising nearly 20 percent of the country’s GDP. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations apprised the industry in 2006 and found that approximately 900,000 households contributed half of the agricultural output on 5 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s arable land. In addition, roughly 250,000 private farms employed half of the agricultural labor population while also contributing 40 percent of total output.

Different Types of Credit Access

Although households and private farms are the two largest employers and producers of agricultural output, they cannot rely on the same systems of finance due to their fundamentally different roles in the economy. The categories of credit access in Kyrgyzstan differentiate based on the debtor. As household farms are usually individually operated, micro-financing institutions (MFIs) and non-governmental organizations more aptly serve their personal needs; these small-scale family farms generally have neither the land nor the assets to pay off the sizeable loans. On the other hand, commercial banking suits the privatized farm industry, which can afford to invest in equipment and expansion while employing up to several hundred laborers.

Recognizing this dichotomy, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) invested in multiple projects across different financial sectors. Its Investment Climate Advisory Services Project, initiated in 2009, works to remove barriers to entry in the market that would otherwise dissuade private businesses from expanding. From 2009 to 2012, the IFC also invested $26 million into Kompanion Financial Group, FINCA Kyrgyzstan and UniCredit Kyrgyzstan, all of which provide microfinance services to individuals and small businesses.

Potential Dangers of Expanding Credit

With the relaxation of government regulation and growth in spending, however, comes the danger of a potentially cataclysmic credit bubble. Eurasianet reported in 2012 that only 100 of the near 450 MFI’s in Kyrgyzstan actively engaged with clients; the barriers to starting an MFI are virtually nonexistent. Interested investors need slightly more than $2,000 USD to found their own MFI, and most have no education or background in finance. This lack of barriers, coupled with borrowers that often do not understand the loaning process, can result in overspending of nonexistent money and consequent high debt, which harms those who borrowed money to escape poverty in the first place.

The failure to properly rear a financial market and the motive of profit before anything else promoted in local populations spells disaster for both loaners and borrowers. Financial education of the local population and proper regulatory oversight is crucial for efforts to expand credit access in Kyrgyzstan to succeed. The implementation of finance in an industry as important to Kyrgyzstan as agribusiness bears the grave possibility of worsening the predicaments of those it was designed to help. However, if managed correctly, it also holds a much greater potential to lift Kyrgyzstan’s citizens out of poverty. 

Alex Qi

Photo: Flickr

How the US Benefits From Foreign Aid to Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan, once part of the Soviet bloc, transformed from a one-party communist state into a republican democracy in 1991. Despite its reforms, though, the country is beset by both extreme poverty and government incompetence. With a significant portion of the population destitute, a thriving illegal narcotics market and ethnic tensions between native Kyrgyz and migrant Uzbeks, American investment in its government and people would see substantive U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Kyrgyzstan in terms of security.

State of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan’s location in geographically-isolated Central Asia and its lack of natural energy resources, such as oil and gas, prevent it from emulating the industrial rise of neighboring economic goliaths, Russia and China.

The inherent difficulty of encouraging economic growth, coupled with institutional problems and social disorder, has resulted in high poverty rates in Kyrgyzstan. As of 2010, more than 40 percent of Kyrgyzstan residents live below the poverty line. High rates of homelessness and unemployment have turned many to narcotics.

Factors Leading to Revolution

Trafficking drugs across a long, unguarded border with other Central Asian countries linked to Afghanistan is a profitable enterprise, making it lucrative to those who do not have sustainable incomes. The second-largest city in Kyrgyzstan, Osh, is often referred to as the “drug capital” due to the volume of illegal narcotics that passes through the city near Kyrgyzstan’s southern border.

In 2012, authorities seized at least six tons of various substances ranging from cannabis to heroin. The rampant nature of the drug problem, and the government’s inability to resolve it, was one factor that led to revolution.

In June of 2010, more than 350 people were killed in southern Kyrgyzstan during the Second Kyrgyz Revolution over a variety of issues —  rape, wealth inequality between rural Kyrgyzstan migrants and urban Uzbeks and gang turf wars over the aforementioned drugs were a few. About 66 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s population is Kyrgyz, with some 14 percent identifying as Uzbeks. The violence between the two ethnic groups in the larger frame of regime change displaced hundreds of thousands of citizens and left the region in turmoil.

Ethnic Tension and Cultural Conflict

Poverty is a breeding ground for radicalism. Its perpetuation is often a vicious cycle, wherein poverty causes political instability, resulting in civil wars and terrorism at home and abroad. These conflicts then wipe out much-needed crops and necessary social institutions like hospitals and schools. In Kyrgyzstan’s case, ethnic tension resulted from lopsided poverty and unaffordable utility prices.

It would be a mistake to assume, however, that the conflict between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz is limited to only Kyrgyzstan or Central Asia. In April 2017, an Uzbek born in Kyrgyzstan killed 14 in St. Petersburg, Russia by rail attack. In October 2017, an Uzbek immigrant killed eight in New York by driving a truck through pedestrians. More than 1,500 Uzbeks have joined the Islamic State, ostracized by many of the countries — especially Kyrgyzstan — they once lived in.

This global violence, spawned in part by the ineptitude of a corrupt and autocratic government in preventing the continuance of radicalization, is not in the interest of either the Kyrgyzstan people or the United States. Just as Kyrgyzstan benefits from foreign aid to Kyrgyzstan, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Kyrgyzstan.

In the decades since the Soviet Union’s dissolution, subsequent American administrations have supplied aid intended mostly for the Kyrgyz Republic’s agricultural economy and on-the-ground humanitarian efforts. But it can do more — more for its government and more for its people.

U.S. Benefits From Foreign aid to Kyrgyzstan

Earmarking additional funds could support anti-corruption initiatives to dampen the prevalence of drug transport and abuse among the population. Increased investment in Kyrgyzstan’s energy sector could also diminish dependence on foreign energy and stabilize utility prices. A reduction in poverty and boost in living standards would increase income equality and alleviate some of the tension between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz that currently plagues the country, and by extension of terrorist activity, the world.

As terrorism is such a buzzword in American politics today, preventing it would surely be high on most elected officials’ to-do lists. Helping the Kyrgyz Republic overcome its multidimensional poverty — which can prevent terrorist activity and save lives both in the United States and abroad — would increase national security at a fraction of the cost of not doing so.

To reiterate: the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Kyrgyzstan. The current administration’s plan to drastically cut its designated aid funds would render most, if not all, of these benefits void.

– Alex Qi
Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Aid to Kyrgyz Republic Promotes Development
The Central Asian Republic of Kyrgyzstan, also known as Kyrgyz Republic, is a landlocked and a largely mountainous country with a population of about six million. Humanitarian aid to Kyrgyz Republic has helped the country’s economy recover from the 2009 financial crisis and the 2010 inter-ethnic clashes.

U.S. and Kyrgyz Republic

In 2010, the United States announced a $32 million assistance plan for humanitarian relief, reconstruction and community stabilization efforts in the violence-plagued regions of both Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan.

Kyrgyz Republic is one of the five republics of Central Asia and is very prone to natural disasters such as landslides, floods, earthquakes, droughts and melting glaciers. These natural disasters disrupt the normal flow of life and cause substantial damage to developmental projects.

European Commission

The European Commission (EC) has assisted people in the aftermath of these natural disasters via various projects. These efforts include improving food security in the wake of the harsh winter climate and providing small-scale support after floods, avalanches and earthquakes.

The EC also manages a disaster risk reduction program called DIPECHO which has funded more than 110 projects at the cost of €47 million (about $58 million dollars). DIPECHO’s tenth action plan for Central Asia (2017-2018) has encouraged EC’s partners to replicate previous successful community-based disaster risk reduction models to foster more local and national self-sufficiency and development.

Project HOPE

In 2017, aid organization Project HOPE donated $243,000 to medical facilities and non-government organizations. This humanitarian aid to Kyrgyz Republic was used to provide free health services and medical supplies to over 35,000 people. Project HOPE has been active in the Kyrgyz Republic since 2006.

The U.S. State Department noted in 2010 that the U.S. humanitarian aid to the Kyrgyz Republic has improved the country’s economic growth, promoted democratic reform by strengthening the civil society and helped the government combat international threats. Basic reforms in education, agriculture, energy and other ongoing priorities have also been instituted.


The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has helped the Kyrgyz Republic maintain a parliamentary democratic system even as the country oscillated between two bouts of authoritarianism. Democratic reforms are especially important as Kyrgyz Republic is the only freely elected parliamentary democracy in post-Soviet Central Asia.

USAID works with the regional USAID Mission to Central Asia to propel the New Silk Road initiative which is aimed to strengthen the economic and cultural connections of South and Central Asian people which, in turn, helps propel the stability and prosperity of the region.

Diversification and Humanitarian Aid to Kyrgyz Republic

The World Bank has said that the Kyrgyz Republic needs to diversify its economic activities by increased private sector development and occupational training, especially to the young. Humanitarian aid to Kyrgyz Republic can thus help the government improve its governance at both local and national levels and promote the country’s economic and social development.

– Mohammed Khalid

Photo: Google

Sustainable Agriculture in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan lies in central Asia with much of its land consisting of rugged and mountainous terrain. The country faces harsh winters and hot, arid summers because of its height above sea level that ranges anywhere from 1,000 meters to 3,000 meters. Kyrgyzstan’s land and climate mean there are very few arable locations suitable for growing and sustaining seasonal crops.

With much of their communities being rural, Kyrgyzstan is reliant on their agricultural products as a source of sustenance and income with around 40 percent of laborers focused in agriculture.


A variety of crops grown in Kyrgyzstan are best-suited for the land and climate, including wheat, barley, maize, potatoes, vegetables and fruits, while sugar beets, cotton and tobacco are grown for export.

Kyrgyz focus more on keeping pastures and maintaining herds of livestock for food because of the small amount of land for farming. Livestock mainly consists of sheep, goats and yak, but some regions can support cattle, pigs and chickens.

Agricultural Practices

Both the agricultural practices of the Kyrgyz and the increasing amount of agricultural production needed for the population make sustainable agriculture in Kyrgyzstan a growing and serious issue.

Due to how rural much of the country is, farmers tend to only have access to the most basic of tools, and often lack the knowledge of proper farming methods, meaning what little land there is to be farmed is being dramatically degraded. The herding of livestock has had a similar effect on the land in the form of desertification in overused pastures.

Nutritional Deficiencies

The lack of farmable and healthy pasture land is not the only issue regarding sustainable agriculture in Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyz can only grow hearty, starchy crops to survive the harsh conditions of the country, and as a result, many are affected by nutritional deficiencies; children can have stunted growth because of a lack of essential vitamins and minerals found in fairer weather crops.

Nutritional deficiencies can also be contributed to rural Kyrgyz simply not being able to afford food — many have low salaries compared to the cost of food from Kyrgyzstan and imports to the country.

Foreign Aid

Kyrgyzstan often depends on foreign aid to provide what it cannot due to poverty and the agricultural issues the nation faces. Although this aid does fund some food relief programs to provide for Kyrgyz who need it the most, much of the projects and programs focus on the agriculture itself.

USAID programs in the country tend to focus on both making agricultural practices more sustainable, such as how the land is managed and how produce is stored, and on making the agricultural economy of Kyrgyzstan more viable by aiding in the production of in-demand crops for export.

This, in turn, provides farmers with the money needed to purchase better tools and infrastructure for more sustainable practices.

Sustainable Agriculture in Kyrgyzstan

For the time, sustainable agriculture in Kyrgyzstan is a struggle both economically and environmentally, and lack of proper nutrition has a negative impact on the population.

There is hope on the horizon, though, from a variety of programs funded by foreign aid in an attempt to not only provide Kyrgyz with proper nutrition but also make their agricultural practices so sustainable that they will be able to advance themselves in the future.

– Keegan Struble

Photo: Flickr