WASHINGTON, DC, JANUARY 17, 2014 – The Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A. (AKF USA) and the World Bank have inaugurated a program to identify factors and strengthen social cohesion in the Kyrgyz Republic and pilot new social and infrastructure approaches for studying the elements and enabling factors for civil society. The strong coalition of implementing and research partners also includes the Aga Khan Foundation (Kyrgyzstan), the Mountain Societies Development Support Programme, the University of Central Asia, and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The agreement for the Social Cohesion through Community-based Development Project, with $1 million from AKF USA, leverages $2 million in funding from the World Bank’s State and Peace-building Fund (SPF). This project will blend research on the factors that foster social cohesion with development activities, based on the Foundation’s broad and established community-level experience in both Kyrgyzstan and greater Central Asia.

The Kyrgyz Republic is one of the poorest countries in the Europe and Central Asia region. Despite some success in fostering open institutions, the country has struggled to achieve lasting democracy and civic freedom. In June 2010, simmering political and social tensions climaxed in violent inter-ethnic clashes in the south of the country resulting in notable deaths, injuries, and internal displacement. Destruction of public and private property occurred, and loss of public confidence has hindered the recovery and development of the region. Recognizing the rich experience of many non-governmental organizations involved in the region, this project partnership aims to advance the research and analysis that has impact within the current context.

The project consists of two complementary and linked components: an identification research, evaluative and capacity development component and an intervention component. The project will aim to deliver interventions benefiting local communities along with maintaining the methodological rigor needed to achieve robust understanding of how social cohesion objectives can be most effectively integrated into community-driven development. Activities in the diverse populations of Osh province and the more homogeneous Naryn province offer different conditions for exploring these dynamics. Altogether about 6,000 people are expected to benefit directly, and nearly 75,000 people indirectly.

Read the full press release here.