Poverty and its resulting social ills are on the rise in Central Asia as are regional tensions over borders, trade and resource access. An uncertain political situation in neighboring Afghanistan, increased drug trafficking and Islamic extremism are additional sources of concern. With governments straining to maintain a delicate balance of power, there is potential for a volatile situation to erupt.
CAIP Success Story Featured in
A CAIP project in which a gym was refurbished in Arslanbob, Kyrgyzstan, for use by local at-risk youth was the October story in USAID's 12 Months of Telling Our Story 2005 Calendar.
A longer version of the same story, "Local Imam Helps Support USAID Initiative; Gym spurs interest of local religious leadership in Kyrgyzstan", is also available onf the USAID website. Read it now.
Another impact story, "Community Renews Dialog With Local Government; Local authorities re-gain confidence of remote ethnic minority villagers in Kyrgyzstan," is also featured. Read it now.
Rehabilitation of Canal Leads to
In the Yassy Municipality near the city of Turkistan, Kazakhstan, CAIP staff mobilized community stakeholders and contributed resources for the rehabilitation of an irrigation system. Seven kilometers of irrigation channels were both mechanically and manually dredged and two wells were fully rehabilitated, including installation of a new electric pump, filter and pipes. As a result, 900 hectares of irrigated land has become suitable for grain, vegetable, fruit and tree production. The project created 968 long-term and 100 short-term jobs. More.
In response to the situation, USAID enlisted several partners, including ACDI/VOCA, to implement the three-year, five-country $22.2 million Community Action Investment Program (CAIP). Completed in July 2005, CAIP was designed to prevent conflict and promote broad-based citizen dialogue and participation in communities where the majority of citizens are poor and preconditions for violent conflict are present.
By 2005, CAIP had successfully guided 169 community-driven projects in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan under the leadership of ACDI/VOCA, the Academy for Educational Development (AED), the Urban Institute, 51 communities and over 30 local NGOs and international development organizations. A joint decision-making process that emphasized pluralism helped to produce policies supported by all segments of the community. CAIP also provided training to local civic organizations and facilitated improved local networks to increase efficiency, efficacy and sustainability. Special effort was made to engage youth and women, who were traditionally overlooked in the decision-making process.
ACDI/VOCA, along with its partners, mobilized community members and leveraged local resources for collaborative participation in developmental activities in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. CAIP benefited a broad spectrum of community members by providing jobs and improving infrastructure and services in areas such as sanitation, health and education. The project created 3,600 short-term and 2,800 long-term jobs, and benefited more than 644,000 community members. Nearly $2.3 million in small grants was awarded by the project and over $1.3 million in in-kind contributions and cash was donated by participating communities.
One of the key successes of the CAIP project was its ability to empower community members to make community improvements without the help of the government or donor organizations. After decades of dependency on a central authority, these communites have now learned how to be more self-reliant and to create change in their communities on their own. For example, in Shymkent, Kazakhstan, there is a “boom” of community-driven projects that are addressing the communities’ housing and infrastructural needs. The non-CAIP community residents are implementing their own projects to rehabilitate children’s playgrounds, water pipelines and basements of the multi-storied houses. Looking at theses project sites, one might feel as though there is a “mini-CAIP” being implemented throughout Shymkent. The residents of five, multi-storied houses, located on different streets, have implemented five rehabilitation projects applying the same model that CAIP used in its community-led projects. The model creates collaboration and mobilizes resources within the community and among local authorities and other donors such as private businesses.
In Kyrgyzstan, many of the projects focused on youth education and infrastructure development, while in Kazakhstan an emphasis was placed on water distribution. Projects promoted participatory community development, providing foundations on which to build modern, prosperous societies. CAIP’s importance in the community was underscored by USAID’s urgently seeking its expertise in alleviating tension in southern Kyrgyzstan brought on by an influx of refugees and asylum seekers fleeing conflict in Andijan, Uzbekistan. ACDI/VOCA organized a June 2005 press conference in the Jalalabat governor office to address misperceptions and rumors spreading through communities neighboring a UNHCR refugee camp as to the purpose of the camp, treatment of the refugees and related issues. Subsequently, ACDI/VOCA led teams of citizens from nearby CAIP-partner communities on a visit to the camp to allow team members to reassure their respective communities. Information packets, developed in coordination with the UNHCR, were disseminated to community members to educate them about relevant refugee and asylum-seeker issues.
Mark Hannafin, USAID Conflict Mitigation Program Manager in the Central Asian Republics, lauded ACDI/VOCA for its efforts, saying, “I’m very pleased with the response and level of professionalism shown by the CAIP staff in responding to our call for action with the communities near the camp. It shows the great extent to which they have been trained and are dedicated to building better futures for their communities.”
ACDI/VOCA partnered with several institutions to co-implement voter education and awareness initiatives for its CAIP partner communities before the July 2005 presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan. It provided “Voters in Action” training in collaboration with Freedom House with funding from USAID, constitutional reform awareness training in collaboration with the National Democratic Institute and the printing of 500,000 meet-the-candidate pamphlets in collaboration with Freedom House and the International Republican Institute with additional funding from the U.S. State Department.
An association, Bereke, was also established as a successor to ACDI/VOCA’s Community Action Investment Program (CAIP) to address the highest priorities of communities in the areas of civil society development, essential infrastructure, social services and employment needs in order to ease ethnic tensions and prevent conflict in Southern Kazakhstan. Bereke works with community-partners that are conflict-prone due to ethnic tensions resulting from a perceived lack of equal access to municipal financial resources and a high rate of unemployment, especially among university graduates.