The Kyrgyz Republic: Making Sure the Past Stays Past
April 16, 2013
The World Bank Communications Team in the Kyrgyz Republic offers this story.
Turdubai Borubayev lives amidst his grandchildren, under a grape arbor, above his flour shop just outside the city of Osh. An idyllic life, except that in June 2010 he was burned out of his house and spent a long winter living in a tent amidst the wreckage.
"We didn't know what to do then, we were scared, where to run, the house was destroyed," Turdubai Borubayev says. "But look now. These plants – we've replanted them and they're growing and all is back to normal."
Turdubai says he is grateful to the government, which helped him rebuild after a devastating three days of ethnic violence tore through Osh in 2010. The turmoil caused about $490 million dollars' worth of property damage; a huge sum, equivalent to 13 percent of the country's GDP. With budget aid from the World Bank's Economic Recovery Support Operation, the government of the Kyrgyz Republic has been helping many citizens to cope with the aftermath of the crisis.
We didn't know what to do then, we were scared, where to run, the house was destroyed. But look now. These plants – we've replanted them and they're growing and all is back to normal.
Living Above and Below and Next Door
Not far from the Turdubai's house, 24 families live in a brand new apartment complex, built by the government and filled with a mix of Kyrgyz and Uzbek families. The families here were all among the 400,000 displaced in 2010.
"It doesn't matter if you're Kyrgyz or Uzbek. I think for ordinary people, it doesn't matter, it is in our nature to just get along," says Barno Kulchieva, who is raising her three kids in the new apartment.
Kairinisa Askarova and her children received one million Kyrgyz Som, or over twenty thousand US dollars, as a one-time compensation from the government. During the violence, her husband was shot dead on his walk to work. She used the money to pay off the loan on her family's apartment. "When I got the one million I cried, because financially I was in such a desperate situation and I cried even more remembering my husband, who used to take care of us," she says, her eyes filling with tears.
When I got the one million I cried, because financially I was in such a desperate situation and I cried even more remembering my husband, who used to take care of us.
Transparency is Crucial
The events of 2010 not only led to an overthrow of the government, but also slowed the economy and cut growth. Subsequent governments have since started reforms to revive the economy, as well as to strengthen transparency and accountability. While ensuring the Kyrgyz government has resources to fulfill its social obligations, the World Bank's budgetary aid also supported reforms aimed at improving the management of state property as well as of the energy sector.
When Almazbek Primov, the former deputy director of the State Property Fund, was still working for the government, he says he pushed for clarity. "There is no way back to the old days of corruption, my staff and I brainstorm everyday on what we can do to make this process clearer and more efficient."
To hold the government accountable before the public, every Ministry now has its own public supervisory council, which monitors the performance of each sector.
Rita Karasartova sits on the Ministry of Energy's supervisory council. "Every time people talk about ineffective management, they mention the lack of transparency," she says. “This leads to the reasonably large amounts of money not stated in the profit reports and being reported as company losses. In my opinion, through transparency and sound principles of corporate governance, the energy industry may end up with surplus, develop its potential and provide an uninterrupted, quality distribution of power."
Finding—and Helping—the Neediest
As the economy contracted, poverty rose. In the capital, Bishkek, Buraeema Abdulayeva, a stay-at-home mother with 7 young children, gets a monthly government allowance of 3170 Kyrgyz Som a month. That's about $66, up from $43 in 2010. Her husband pushes carts at the local bazaar, barely making 7 dollars a day. Abdulayeva says her family needs the money badly.
Without the government supporting us, it would be hard to survive because my husband doesn't always have work
"Without the government supporting us, it would be hard to survive because my husband doesn't always have work." And the Abdulayeva's social worker says the family is not alone. Aijan Duisheyeva says many people need such help, and the government is doing a better job of reaching them.
The Kyrgyz government's goals are economic reforms, a higher growth rate, and a stable population. From government minister to shopkeeper, people here say the goal is that the Kyrgyz Republic never experiences the violence of 2010 again. With a stronger economy, transparent governance and better targeted help for the neediest, perhaps people here will begin to mend their broken hearts.