"Comprehensive and effective"

Community-centered development in Kyrgyzstan's Batken Province

Baseline: pervasive poverty

In 2003, 85 percent of people in the Batken Province were living in poverty, almost 25 percentage points higher than the national average.

Assessing the problem

People didn’t know how to organize, and lacked the capital to pursue income-generating ideas.

Phase 1: Mobilizing communities

From 2003-2005, more than 2,000 people became members of self-help groups with over $50,000 worth of savings used for lending and the improvement of village infrastructure.

Supporting business ideas

Through the self-help groups, people accessed collateral-free microloans to start hairdressers, bakeries, sewing shops and other enterprises. Some 2,500 recipients received loans worth $775,000.

Phase II: Enhanced local development

Participation spread across 40 villages in three districts of the Batken Province, with support from the European Commission and the Republic of Korea. Development became community-driven. Many inhabitants started to run their own loan funds, enabling development partners to phase out in some areas.

Infrastructure developed

More than 16,000 villagers in the most remote and disadvantaged areas benefited from access to electricity, drinking and irrigation water and improved infrastructure (e.g., roads, bridges, telephones).

Results: Crop yields rose

Better local organization enabled farmers to pool resources, boost efficiency and access technology, which led to crop yield rises of up to 25 percent.

Livestock productivity increased

Better feeding, artificial insemination, and enhanced veterinary services led to increased productivity of horned cattle by 25 percent.

Microloans were repaid

All microloans were repaid in full because people learned how to create business plans, and because groups were accountable if a member did not pay back a loan.

Lower incidence of disease

Better access to clean drinking water immediately improved public health in target villages, with a 36 percent decrease in the incidence of water-borne diseases such as intestinal diseases, hepatitis, and typhoid.

Water losses decreased

Improved irrigation techniques reduced water losses by between 60 and 70 percent.

Poverty diminished

By 2009, the poverty rate in the Batken Province had fallen to 31.5 percent (from 85 percent in 2003).

Praise for the project

"It was one of the most effective and comprehensive investments to date"

Governor of the Batken Province.
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