Europe & Central Asia

International Assistance to Central Asian Countries

Photograph: Kazuki Shimojo
Photograph: Kazuki Shimojo

Since the independence of five Central Asian countries, the international society has expanded their involvement in this region through provision of ODA. International Financial Institutions such as WB and Asian Development Bank (ADB) play an especially key role in these regions. The European Union (EU) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) were also active in the period following regional independence. Now, through Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC), ADB has laid the foundation of the regional platform for donors to implement projects for energy and transport sectors. The number of donors in this area is increasing as actors of Islamic finance, such as the Islamic Development Bank and Kuwait Fund, begin to participate. Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan announced their plan to join both the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as beginning member states as well as New Development Bank (NDB, formerly known as BRICs Bank), currently under development. The number of development aid actors appears to be increasing, and the cooperation between all parties is becoming one of the central issues for successful and humane development.

Since the independence of five Central Asian countries, the international society has expanded their involvement in this region through provision of ODA. International Financial Institutions such as WB and Asian Development Bank (ADB) play an especially key role in these regions. The European Union (EU) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) were also active in the period following regional independence. Now, through Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC), ADB has laid the foundation of the regional platform for donors to implement projects for energy and transport sectors. The number of donors in this area is increasing as actors of Islamic finance, such as the Islamic Development Bank and Kuwait Fund, begin to participate. Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan announced their plan to join both the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as beginning member states as well as New Development Bank (NDB, formerly known as BRICs Bank), currently under development. The number of development aid actors appears to be increasing, and the cooperation between all parties is becoming one of the central issues for successful and humane development.

In addition to aid from counties such as the US (USAID), Germany (GIZ and KfW) and Japan (JICA and JBIC) after the collapse of USSR, Korea (KOICA and EDCF) and Turkey (TICA) have become significant contributors of bilateral aid. China (The Export-Import Bank of China) provides loans to various sectors such as economic infrastructure, social sectors-education and health service and irrigation sector. In the case of Japan, Japanese aid has supported economic infrastructure such as energy and transport sectors by utilizing yen loans as a part of ODA. In Uzbekistan, renovation and improvement of the old infrastructure built during the Soviet Union period was highly in demand. JICA met the demand through projects in energy sector such as the ‘Talimardjan Thermal Power Plant Modernization Project’ (co-financing with the ADB and WB), the ‘Tashguzar-Kumkurgan New Railway Construction Project’ and the ‘Karsh-Termez Railway Electrification Project’ (co-financing with the ADB) in transport sector.

Japan has contributed to Central Asia via not only by financing infrastructure with yen loans but also by supporting greater human development. For instance, JICA’s technical assistance has supported the development of human resources both by creating scholarship programs to study in Japan and through training programs for young government officials, which as of December 2013 allowed almost 7,200 people from Central Asian states to visit Japan. Also, with JICA’s Grant Aid for Human Resource Development Scholarship (JDS) program, 420 students from five Central Asian countries have studied at graduate schools in Japan as of December 2014. Japan Centers have been established in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyz Republic, which provide human resource development for private sectors. Japan has dispatched a number of experts in sectors such as law, private sectors, agriculture/irrigation and disaster preventions support capacity development in Central Asian countries.

Japan provides ODA with Central Asian countries, collaborating with international organizations such as UNDP. With the increased necessity of regional cooperation, Japan has conducted cross-border projects such as poverty reduction and livelihood improvement projects, the improvement of border management project in border areas of Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and the disaster risk deduction project in Kyrgyz Republic, which align with ‘Central Asia plus Japan’ dialogue. These projects have supported the formation of a regional platform for disaster risk reduction. Additionally, with the support of the Human Security Trust Fund that was largely funded by Japan, UNDP supported a community development project in the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan in Uzbekistan, which was affected by the Aral Sea’s environmental problems. Having seen the success of past collaborations with UN and other international organizations, Japan has demonstrated the extent to which collaborative aid could prove a vital tool for the stable development of the Central Asian region.

 

Authors: Study Group on Development in Central Asia and Caucasus Region

  • Naoki Nihei, Central Asia and the Caucasus Division, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
  • Akitoshi Iio, Ex-JICA ODA Loans Advisor (Central Asia Region)/Project Formulation Advisor, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Ethiopia Office.
  • Ryota Saito, Ph.D. candidate of Graduate school of Humanities and Social sciences in University of Tsukuba.

 

Special Edition: Prospects of Japan’s Assistance for Central Asia

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