Uzbekistan: Empowering communities to address local needs

 women
Women in Uzbekistan that participated in UNDP-EU supported community building projects. Credit: UNDP/Kyoko Postill

The Government of Uzbekistan has been increasing the role of local authorities and communities in providing essential services and encouraging more funding to come from local resources.

Since 2005, the Enhancing Living Standards (ELS) Programme has helped bring communities together to discuss common challenges and take practical measures to improve living conditions. Financed by the European Union and implemented by UNDP, the programme covers the Andijan, Fergana, and Namangan regions, where some eight million people—nearly a third of Uzbekistan’s population—live.

Highlights

  • The programme covers the Andijan, Fergana, and Namangan regions, where some eight million people live.
  • Access to water increased by 55 percent, health services by 6 percent, and natural gas by 21 percent.
  • 800,000 people benefited from the programme.

Community development plans

The programme has supported the design and implementation of community development plans which help local communities prioritize their needs and problems, and implement small-scale projects with financial help from local authorities. With UNDP’s support, local authorities and communities (also known as mahallas) have prepared more than 200 community development plans.

This participatory process has strengthened the relationship between local administrations and communities.

“We learned how to communicate with government authorities,” reported a local community group in the Besharik district of the Fergana region. “We liked that the programme taught us how to collaborate with the communal services departments.”

Local communities are now better informed and have gained the confidence to speak out, express their hopes and concerns, and participate in decisions that affect their well-being. They also contribute to the projects by providing labour, materials, and funding. Since 2009, local authorities and mahallas have contributed $3 million to social infrastructure projects, more than 60 percent of the total funding.

Addressing basic needs

Community development projects have led to concrete improvements in people’s lives. In the Markazy mahalla of Andijan, the programme helped people to install a new artesian well, benefitting about 8,000 inhabitants. Now households have access to clean, piped drinking water, which is less expensive than relying on old wells that require electrical pumps.

Water supply improvement projects have also attracted volunteers and community contributions. In the Khujaarik community in the Andijan region, 3,000 people volunteered their services and funding to help monitor the water quality and report problems. As a result, the incidence of water-borne diseases has dropped by 72 percent since June 2010, as reported by the primary health care facilities in the target districts.

The ELS projects have benefited 800,000 people by providing them with better access to potable and irrigation water, sanitation, electricity and natural gas. In 2011, access to water in the areas where UNDP works with local governments and mahallas had increased by 55 percent, health services by 6 percent, and gas by 21 percent.

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