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FEATURE STORY

Kazakhstan: World Bank runs public consultations on the new Country Partnership Strategy 2012-2017

February 29, 2012


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Education quality, accessibility and skills are among key factors in increasing competitiveness and jobs in Kazakhstan.

Photo: Kubat Sydykov / World Bank

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Public consultations provided an opportunity for CSOs from six diverse regions of Kazakhstan to exchange views on the country’s development issues.
  • Country Partnership Strategy will be focused on private sector and job creation, public sector development and environmental issues.
  • The new Strategy will be publicly available online after its presentation to the Board of Directors in May 2012.

Astana, February 29, 2012 – Public consultations to solicit views of civil society on Kazakhstan’s development challenges and opportunities were held by the World Bank country office in Kazakhstan as part of the ongoing preparation of the new Country Program Strategy (CPS) for 2012-2017.

The videoconference event provided an opportunity for CSOs from six diverse regions of Kazakhstan - Astana, Almaty, Kostanai, Shymkent, Ust-Kamenogorsk, and Aktobe – to exchange views on the country’s development issues. The event brought together representatives of most active civil society organizations from the business community, think tanks, and associations focusing on environment, gender, transparency, agriculture, health, vulnerability, and youth issues.

The event was chaired by Sebnem Akkaya, World Bank Country Manager for Kazakhstan. Opening the event she underlined that “the World Bank considers civil society as a valuable partner in improving development outcomes”. The consultations aimed to seek feedback on the proposed CPS areas of engagement and approaches that aim at helping the government to implement development priorities, and at the same time inform CSOs on the World Bank’s ongoing operations and opportunities for closer engagement.

Presenting the overview of the new Country Partnership Strategy, Sebnem Akkaya highlighted the three areas of engagement to focus on:

  • Improvement of competiveness and fostering job creation;
  • Strengthening public finance and public sector institutions for efficient service delivery;
  • Safeguarding the environment.

" The knowledge transfer and capacity enhancement remain the dominant drivers of the World Bank’s assistance to Kazakhstan. "
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Sebnem Akkaya

The World Bank Country Manager for Kazakhstan

During the Q&A session the WB team received encouraging feedback. Overall, CSOs believe that improvements in governance and a stronger voice for civic society are essential to sustainable development.

Education quality, accessibility and skills are highlighted as key factors in increasing competitiveness and jobs. Among the top areas requiring attention, diagnosis of underlying reasons for poor PISA results, lowering informality in labor market, strengthening vocational education, and providing assistance to disabled youths in secondary schools in rural areas were highlighted.

Inefficient business regulatory framework, difficulties in access to finance and slow pace of agricultural modernization and diversification were highlighted as reasons for low competitiveness. The participants suggested that the competitiveness and jobs agenda should accord greater attention to sector and firm specific needs especially in lagging rayons and small towns, and rely more on a feedback from business associations with sector specific knowledge.

Participants also emphasized the lagging performance in the governance and transparency agenda as a key factor undercutting the country’s development prospects. Judicial reform, increasing standards in public administration and in delivery of public services (including through streamlined service provision procedures) and the need for strengthened monitoring and increased transparency in the operations of SOEs were highlighted as areas of priority in the reform agenda.

Safeguarding the environment was highlighted as a key element of the sustainable development agenda. Water and land degradation, deforestation, low energy efficiency, water contamination and air pollution in the industrial regions were of particular concern to CSOs. Participants emphasized the need for promotion of the green growth strategy and better public outreach in this endeavor including through environmental literacy programs. They also emphasized the need for mainstreaming environmental measures better in infrastructure projects.

The participants were informed on the process of formation of a new Global Partnership Facility for Enhanced Social Accountability (GPFESA), former Civil Society Fund, which is being currently repurposed to increase the Bank's engagement with Civil Society Organizations, and to strategically support CSOs working on social accountability issues through grant making, capacity building and knowledge management activities.

In the course of the consultations, the participants suggested that the World Bank develop a strong monitoring and evaluation system to track the impact of wide-ranging government initiatives with a greater role for CSOs in this respect, and improve public access to the outcomes of the Joint Economic Research Program. It was also suggested to leverage greater emphasis on the region specific development needs, and for local initiatives at the community level to be better supported in order to strengthen civil society. These choices are broadly consistent with the CPS, under which the Bank will further strengthen its partnership with Kazakhstan and ensure that work carried out becomes increasingly responsive to client demand. The World Bank will continue to work with and listen closely to a broader range of stakeholders in Kazakhstan.

The final CPS will be publicly available online after its presentation to the Board of Directors in May 2012.


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