UNDP socio-environmental standards

Country context: Nearly 94% of Kyrgyzstan is located at over 1,000 meters above sea level and 40% of it is above 3,000 meters. The Kyrgyz Republic is highly susceptible to natural hazards such as mudslides, landslides, avalanches, and earthquakes. Damages and losses from climate-related natural disasters cost the country nearly USD 6.7 million per year between 2000 and 2011 (UNDP, 2013). The World Bank assessment estimates that natural disasters and climate change stressors will impact environmental, social, and economic sectors and cause an annual GDP loss of 0.5% to 1.3% (World Bank, 2019).

Kyrgyzstan grapples with various socio-environmental challenges, including the legacy of uranium tailings, water pollution from mining activities, deforestation, land degradation, natural hazards like earthquakes and glacial retreats, air pollution in urban areas, and the need for sustainable development. These issues pose risks to both the environment and public health while threatening the country's socio-economic stability.

Screening and categorization of projects is one of the key requirements of the Social and Environmental Standards (SES)

In this regard, the objectives of UNDP's Social and Environmental Screening Procedure (SESP) are to:

  • Integrate the SES Programming Principles to maximize social and environmental opportunities and benefits and strengthen social and environmental sustainability; 
  • Identify potential social and environmental risks and their significance; 
  • Determine the project's risk category (Low, Moderate, Substantial, High); and, 
  • Determine the level of social and environmental assessment and management required to address potential risks and impacts. 

UNDP Kyrgyzstan is considerably focusing on building its capacity SES. In October 2023, a 3-day mandatory training on SES for all Team Leaders, Programme Associates, and Project Coordinators and Advisors will be organized.  


In September 2020, the Social and Environmental Compliance Unit (SECU) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) received a signal from residents of Kadji Say village in Kyrgyzstan regarding their restricted access to drinking water under the UNDP-led project back in 2015.  The primary objective of this project was to ensure access to safe drinking water for the village. However, residents reported persistent water quality issues even after the project had concluded. SECU found shortcomings in project assessment and local stakeholder capacity, which contributed to the ongoing challenges. Consequently, an inclusive and comprehensive action plan was initiated to rectify the situation.

Action Plan Highlights:

  • Radiological Assessment: UNDP initiated a radiological assessment of the village's drinking water to inform cost-effective technical solutions for safe water supply.
  • Testing and Remedial Work: Testing of ground and water sources was conducted in multiple locations in collaboration with national authorities to identify safe remedial measures.
  • Technical Solutions: UNDP explored technical options to secure clean water sources, ensuring compliance with socio-environmental standards.
  • Sanitary Protection Zones: The establishment of sanitary protection zones around water supply systems was supported, by monitoring and guarding functions.
  • Capacity Development: Capacity-building activities were designed to strengthen governance, management, and water purification systems in the village.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Local authorities, the Drinking Water Users Association (DWUA), council members, and village focal points were actively involved in decision-making, and a robust stakeholder engagement plan was developed.
  • Oversight and Monitoring: UNDP Kyrgyzstan applied enhanced oversight and closely monitored the project's progress.

This action plan outlines UNDP's commitment to remediate the water quality issue in Kadji-Say, aligning with UNDP Administrator's decision. It aims to find a viable solution to water supply and quality while actively involving local stakeholders and adhering to socio-environmental standards. Monitoring and tracking of progress are integral to the plan's implementation.

US$1.476 million

22 liters/sec