The Incredible Reversal of Poverty in Kazakhstan
In the early 1990s, Kazakhstan gained autonomy from the Soviet Union but was faced with a steeply deteriorating economy and an increasing poverty rate. Over the course of the following two decades, however, the nation’s government has worked with international organizations to successfully reduce poverty in Kazakhstan to acceptable levels.
Experts claim that Kazakhstan’s poor economic performance and high poverty rates during the ’90s was due to the country’s sudden declaration of independence. Kazakhstan simply did not have the infrastructure or stable government needed to smoothly transition into self-governance.
The fledgling country was forced to confront these structural and political problems while dealing with a poverty rate so high that one-third of their population lived on less than two dollars a day.
Though it began in a less-than-ideal circumstance, Kazakhstan made a rapid turn-around. In less than a decade, the poverty rate declined from a 30 percent peak in 2001 to a low of 1.1 percent in 2009. Though the poverty rate has since risen by a number of percentage points, it experienced less major fluctuations. New institutions are also currently being created to eradicate its causes.
The methods used by the Kazakhstani government to eliminate poverty within the country were simple but effective. During the country’s greatest time of need, leaders made the influential decision to adhere to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s), which aim to reduce poverty. The country committed to decreasing poverty in the long-run and created a program that lasted for over a decade.
Another key factor that helped reduce poverty in Kazakhstan was the heavy involvement of international humanitarian organizations like the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Between 2002 and 2007, the UNDP organized a dozen major projects in an effort to bring down poverty rates throughout the nation.
Kazakhstan has shown unwavering dedication to United Nations (UN) improvement programs and policies, especially those that focus on social and economic development. Together with the UN, Kazakhstan has engaged in MDG Plus—a program that extends the Millennium Development Goals. The nation will concentrate specifically on increasing sustainable development and gender equality. They will additionally work to reduce unemployment and poverty.
Economic experts have recently become concerned about Kazakhstan’s high dependency on oil—73 percent of exports from the country come from petroleum products. This fact, combined with falling oil prices, has led authorities to predict that Kazakhstan will register its first annual GDP loss in almost two decades. This is likely to negatively impact poverty and slow the process of social development.
The IMF created a brief report after its regional director, Masood Ahmed, visited various senior officials in Kazakhstan. Ahmed commented on the hard work that the government was putting in, and their determination to make their fiscal plans succeed. Though faced with a recent impediment, Kazakhstani politicians were determined to find new ways to stimulate the economy by selling petroleum.
This speed bump is frustrating, but not debilitating. Poverty in Kazakhstan has decreased and is still decreasing. Furthermore, experts claim that by 2020 the country will experience vast improvements in many social development factors. Kazakhstan’s past and present economic growth illustrates how committed individuals will always find ways to make progress happen.
– Preston Rust