United States Government (USG) assistance to Kazakhstan supports the development of a stable, secure, democratic, and prosperous country that retains freedom of action on the international stage; embraces free market competition and the rule of law; efficiently develops its vast energy resources in a way that contributes to U.S. energy security; and enhances its role as a respected regional leader. USG assistance also seeks to advance democratic reforms that will improve opportunities for Kazakhstan’s citizens to participate openly and effectively in civic life; economic reforms that will attract and sustain foreign investment; and improvements to health systems to combat infectious diseases that could threaten stability and prosperity. Finally, USG assistance works to advance common security interests in bolstering Central Asian sovereignty and independence, fighting terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and stemming narcotics and human trafficking.
(*Foreign Operations appropriated assistance, excluding Peace Corps funds and centrally managed Foreign Operations funds that are not budgeted for specific countries.)
Highlights of FY 2008 Performance by Area of Focus
Peace and Security
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Was a critical factor in Kazakhstan’s decision to decommission the BN-350 nuclear reactor in October.
- Provided refurbished Huey-2 helicopters for a new rapid reaction force on the Caspian Sea and provided U.S.-based military training for two dozen of Kazakhstan’s military personnel. These assistance programs help support greater interoperability of Kazakhstan’s peace-support force and the development of a Naval Special Operations Force.
- Helped strengthen and develop the U.S. security relationship with this vital partner in Central Asia. The Republic of Kazakhstan has directly supported the U.S.-led global anti-terrorist coalition in Iraq by providing military engineer units that have safely disposed of over four million pieces of ordnance.
- Promoted law-enforcement reform through training on the monitoring of Kazakhstan’s borders for illicit activity, the capability to interdict narcotics, and combat trafficking in persons.
- Reduced proliferation threats through cooperative engagement of scientists, technicians, and engineers with WMD and applicable expertise through USG assistance to the US Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) and the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC).
Governing Justly and Democratically
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Provided legal analyses and recommendations to decision makers and media on seven key draft laws in the field of human rights.
- Supported a nation-wide rollout of a court video recording program as part of an ongoing partnership with the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan. Based on results of this program, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan requested that USG continue to expand it partnership with the judiciary into further areas for reform.
- Focused on strengthening political parties and the governing capacity of newly elected local councils. A memorandum of understanding with the Government of Kazakhstan permitted political party assistance programs to re-start in January 2008. A window of opportunity now exists to help create a more pluralistic political system during the lead up to Kazakhstan’s OSCE Chairmanship in 2010.
- Provided advocacy training, grants, and technical assistance to participating non-governmental organizations (NGOs), media outlets, and public-private working groups to develop policy recommendations for democratic reforms. Among priority topics selected were the rule of law, the role of free legal defense, decentralization, public access to information, and social protection. Work on the first priority topic, indigent legal defense, yielded significant results. The concept of free legal defense has been formally adopted by the government and vetted with citizen groups in 64 regional and county-level public discussions, and the Ministry of Justice has been tasked with drafting legislation. With media grants, the project engaged ten television stations and five newspapers, which produced over 200 segments for television and 120 newspaper articles discussing various aspects of the indigent legal aid debate. As a result, citizens are better informed about democratic reform issues and journalists have improved advocacy and writing skills.
- Strengthened the legal environment for NGOs by providing key recommendations for a new law on state procurement that established special rules for government procurement of goods and services. USG assistance trained NGOs whose recommendations resulted in the creation of a legal foundation for government funding of NGOs. In addition, the analysis provided by the program helped convince the Government of Kazakhstan to continue support for a number of tax provisions favorable to NGOs such as the Value Added Tax exemption for educational, medical, and other social services.
- Supported a satellite feed for independent TV stations and citizens with home satellite receivers that increased access to alternative information on Central Asian-related social and political issues as well as documentaries. In 2008, 22 Kazakh television stations received the satellite signal and rebroadcast five to six programs a day, totaling nearly 30 hours of rebroadcast content per month.
- Trained 90 detention center employees and 450 detainees on fundamental human rights and freedoms.
- Provided civic and leadership education for more than 200 rural women, and established discussion clubs for public dialogue on issues of politics, society, culture, and economics.
Investing in People
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Institutionalized improvements in health services through assistance in the design of a $300 million World Bank project to replicate pilot health financing reforms led by the USG over the last decade. In late FY 2008, Kazakhstan’s parliament approved the project for immediate implementation. The Government of Kazakhstan is also doubling its budget for the health sector.
- Resulted in a five-year grant agreement with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria with the Government for $35 million to scale-up access to HIV prevention treatment, care, and support services for vulnerable groups. USG programs also initiated a pilot project in Almaty to provide treatment and care to people with dual infection of HIV and TB. With USG technical assistance, the Government adopted an anti-TB action plan to be implemented in the penitentiary system in collaboration with the Ministries of Health, Justice, Defense, and Internal Affairs.
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Provided analyses, recommendations and training to the Government on bringing legislation into WTO compliance. Training and analysis were also provided on integrated border management and other services related to the Customs Committee’s $65 million modernization program, jointly funded by the Government and the World Bank.
- Provided training in animal health, water management, and rural development that promoted a greater understanding of U.S. veterinary measures and a reduction of sanitary barriers to U.S. meat exports and to some progress in WTO negotiations with the United States.
- Helped increase regional cooperation and the potential for development and investment in the energy sector through support of a transparent and competitive wholesale electricity market. Significant accomplishments included the delivery of software and technical assistance and training to the Kazakhstan Grid Operating Company. Support led to the successful completion of a national transmission planning model, which will be integrated with other republics in Central Asia to create a region-wide model.
- Supported improvements in the business environment and development of small to medium enterprises. In 2008 Kazakhstan ranked 70 out of 181 countries in the World Bank Doing Business Survey, showing a 10 point improvement against the previous year, including improvements in transparency and reducing opportunities for corruption.
- Introduced the basic concepts governing a market economy in schools and helped to cultivate entrepreneurship in communities. The project reached over 2,000 teachers and 15,000 students from 15 regions of Kazakhstan. Contributions from the private-sector are now replacing USG funds in this area.
- Resulted in important amendments to the microfinance law which will enable microfinance institutions to grow and expand their loan portfolios and to diversify the types of microfinance institutions in the market.
Improvements in Countering Trafficking in Persons – Training for 39 judges, 44 prosecutors, and 115 police officers and additional USG anti-trafficking programs this year provided a mix of prevention and protection strategies, including information campaigns, hot-lines, support for victims’ shelters, counseling, and other health and economic support services. USG programs played a significant role in changing the perception of trafficking and Kazakhstan’s efforts to combat it. Kazakhstan increased efforts to combat trafficking over the previous year and improved its ranking on the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report. The major accomplishment for the reporting period was the Government’s ratification of a number of international protocols including the Convention to Suppress the Slave Trade and Slavery, the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking-in-Persons, especially women and children.