CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

Guide for Strengthening Civil Society: CSI In Kazakhstan

Posted by civilsocietyindex on March 30, 2011

The CIVICUS Civil Society Index is pleased to announce the release of the Analytical Country Report on the state of civil society in Kazakhstan. The project was implemented in Kazakhstan with the cooperation of the Public Policy Research Centre and CIVICUS.

The Civil Society Index Diamond (see Figure 1 below), summarises the strength of four core dimensions of civil society in Kazakhstan (Civic Engagement, Level of Organisation, Practice of Values and Perception of Impact). The circle around the diamond represents the fifth dimension, the External Environment within which civil society operates. The diamond’s size shows an empirical picture of the state of civil society, the conditions that support or inhibit civil society’s development, as well as the consequences of civil society’s activities for society at large. The overall picture revealed by the Civil Society Index Diamond is one of a moderately developed Kazakhstan civil society.

The report identifies key strengths and weaknesses of civil society in Kazakhstan. Principal strengths include the flexibility of CSOs, openness to networking and exchanging information, and some successes in promoting values such as religious harmony and better relations between ethnic groups. CSOs in Kazakhstan tend to be well organised and motivated, and familiar with social needs, and they are often well grounded in the local environment and concerns. A general wish exists among CSOs to participate in civil dialogue, and the fact that CSOs demonstrate some expertise to advance policies continues to be a real asset on which Kazakhstan civil society can build.

Some of the weaknesses identified by the research include the absence of a participatory democracy and low standard of living in Kazakhstan which prevents people from engaging more with civil society activities, something that can be seen in the low levels of volunteering. CSOs in Kazakhstan also lack sustainable human resources and have short-term financial plans which demands some trade off between values and operations. There is limited transparency around the use of public funds, and unfair competition in public funding, which risks the credibility of the sector, while a limited culture of philanthropy means it is hard to find other funding sources. Cooperation between the government, civil society and the private sector also remains weak all round, with state authorities interfering with CSOs and treating them unequally.

Recommendations to improve the state of civil society: amendments to existing government legislation to establish criteria for the work of CSOs in the public interest, open competition for state funding, and more work by CSOs to educate citizens about civil dialogue and encourage greater activism.

Some of the weaknesses identified by the research include the absence of a participatory democracy and low standard of living which prevents people from engaging more with civil society activities. CSOs in Kazakhstan also lack sustainable human resources and have short-term financial plans which demands that some values be sacrifices.  Cooperation between the government, civil society and the private sector also remains weak, with state authorities interfering with and threatening CSOs.

Recommendations to improve the state of civil society were discussed with a wide range of stakeholders at the CSI National Workshop and regional focus group meetings. Some of then were: amendments to existing government legislation to establish criteria for work of CSOs in public interest, make funding for state social contracts open and transparent, attempt to create employment opportunities through more stable funding and for CSOs to increase efforts to educate citizens about civil dialogue, and activism with the belief that they can make a change.

To read the full report, click here.

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