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Assisting social protection reform in Kyrgyzstan

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Despite recent advances, the social protection system in the Kyrgyz Republic requires significant strengthening to address the challenges faced by the population.

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Chris Rayment

Chris Rayment Volodymyr Kuzminskyi European Union

Despite numerous advances in recent decades, following independence from the USSR, the social protection system in the Kyrgyz Republic requires significant strengthening in order to effectively address the challenges faced by the population. We are supporting the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic to implement structural reforms in areas related to Social Protection and Public Finance Management through a two-year programme of technical assistance.

The project was designed to support the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, Ministry of Finance and the Chamber of Accounts, and uses a mixture of budget support (primarily) and technical assistance. The programme aims to continue supporting developments in the field of social protection, building on support provided through earlier budget support programmes since 2007 by consolidating achievements and ensuring that sustainable systems and management capacities are in place.

The project is intended to deliver four key results:

  • improving the policymaking and regulatory roles of state authorities in the child protection area;
  • setting up a national comprehensive system for the provision of social services to vulnerable children (with strengthened contracting-out to non-state providers);
  • strengthening internal and external audit functions in the general government sector; and
  • facilitating the EU’s Sector Reform Contract effectively

Challenges

While the range of social services has expanded in recent years, central and local government authorities remain relatively inexperienced in developing, managing, and monitoring context-relevant and needs-driven social services in a systematic and strategic way. Considerable further reforms are required to improve coverage and accessibility, and to ensure effectiveness and sustainability.

The service delivery landscape continues to be dominated by large residential institutions; many families continue to feel that they have few alternatives to placing their children in institutional care either temporarily (in the case, for example, of migrant workers travelling to and from third countries such as Russia) or permanently (as is very often the case, for example, for children with disabilities who often remain institutionalised for life).

Similarly, there have been significant reforms and improvements in the country’s approach to public financial management (PFM). However a range of challenges exist, including the need to improve transparency and accountability through the implementation of improved internal and external audit functions and processes.

Our approach

A key focus of the project’s work in social protection is to support the government to develop and sustain a social services system that is proactive in supporting people in the community, is responsive to specific and changing needs (moving away from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach), and which uses available resources as effectively and efficiently as possible.

There are several key ingredients of an emerging social services system that the project is supporting through technical assistance (advice, training, coaching) to central government ministries, local authorities, and social services providers:

  • Legislative change – support to the development, approval, and implementation of secondary legislation and regulation that can will enable operational reforms.
  • Introduction and development of an appropriate range of social services for children and families – with a key focus on increasing the availability of community-based support services.
  • Transforming existing institutional care services for children – developing a comprehensive plan for existing services to be delivered differently to meet the needs of the population.
  • Strengthening social services commissioning – supporting the government, together with service providers, to needs-based, cost-effective planning and mechanisms for engaging non-state service providers to deliver high-quality services.
  • Strengthening the capacity of local social protection and child protection statutory agencies – with a particular focus on gatekeeping functions.
  • Improving monitoring capacity – particularly monitoring children in the institutional care system, through the development of new management information systems.
  • Workforce strengthening – including support to workforce planning and the development of a national qualifications framework for social work, and ensuring that government budget resources are allocated for further implementation.

Highlights of the project’s priorities in support of PFM reforms include:

  • Strengthening technical capability and quality control in performance, financial, and compliance audit - through training and development of new tools and resources.
  • Providing coaching to implement a risk-based approach to audit - through training, coaching, and development of new resources (including manuals).
  • Support to implementation of computer-aided audit tools (CAATs).
  • Developing a qualifications framework and certification procedures for Chamber of Accounts staff and for internal auditors in the public sector.
  • Supporting the development and strengthening of legislation on financial control in the public sector.

Outcomes

The project is supporting the government to make progress against a set of objectives or targets that it has committed itself to, including:

  • increased access and availability of community social services;
  • adherence of social services for vulnerable children to the Child Code (domestic legislation) and to international standards; and
  • improved adherence to procedures for case management and referral.

In the area of public finance management (PFM), which is not sector-specific, key objectives are:

  • linking between sector policy and budget execution strengthened; and
  • increased effectiveness of the internal audit.