Preventing violent extremism: UNDP's approach in Kazakhstan

February 11, 2024
Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan

February 12th marks a crucial date in the international calendar - the International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism as and when Conducive to Terrorism. This day serves as a reminder of the collective effort required to combat the root causes of violent extremism and to foster environments that prioritize peace, tolerance, and inclusivity. One initiative that represents the spirit of this day is the UNDP project in Kazakhstan, funded by the Government of Japan.

In March 2018, UNDP Kazakhstan got on the first regional project of its kind aimed at supporting vulnerable youth who has no work or education. This initiative was implemented in the Karaganda and Aktobe regions, areas identified for their potential to benefit significantly from targeted interventions aimed at youth empowerment.


Over the span of nearly three years, concluding in December 2020, this project phase has achieved remarkable results. A total of 576 young individuals got the opportunity to engage in internships and professional courses, equipping them with the skills and confidence needed to navigate the job market successfully. The immediate impact was evident, with over 200 participants securing permanent employment, marking a significant milestone in their personal and professional lives.

Moreover, the project extended its support to young entrepreneurs, with 32 receiving essential support to launch or develop their businesses. This not only strengthened economic growth of the regions they represent but also encouraged innovation and resilience among the youth.

A cornerstone of the UNDP's approach was its focus on peer-to-peer engagement and inspiration. Through the organization of sessions with 20 youth opinion leaders and 939 young people, the project facilitated exchanges of personal stories and ideas that inspired and motivated. These meetings underscored the power of personal narratives in driving change and the importance of role models in shaping the aspirations of young people.

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan

The project also recognized the significance of comprehensive development, organizing Youth Camps in 2018 and 2019 for vulnerable young men and women aged 18-22 from the targeted regions. These camps served as the transformative experiences for the majority of the participants that supported them in bringing to life their potential. By focusing on entrepreneurship career development, personal finance, and leadership, the camps aimed to equip young people with the core competencies necessary for success and social inclusion in their communities.

The culmination of these efforts was not just in the numbers but in the real-life impact on individuals and communities. The UNDP's project in Kazakhstan is a clear evidence of the power of targeted interventions in preventing violent extremism by addressing its root causes: poverty, lack of education, and unemployment. By empowering the youth, fostering social inclusion, and encouraging economic participation, the project contributed to building a more resilient and peaceful society.

As we commemorate the International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism, it's essential to reflect on the successes of such initiatives and to renew our commitment to investing in the youth. Their empowerment is not just a moral imperative but a critical investment in our collective security and prosperity.