Finland's development cooperation in Central Asia

In Central Asia, Finland conducts development cooperation mainly in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The cooperation aims at promoting corporate social responsibility and the creation of decent jobs, adaptation to climate change, sustainable use of natural resources, and improved access to and higher quality of legal services especially for the most vulnerable population groups.

Country Strategy for Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan:

Country Strategy for Development Cooperation 2018−2021: The Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan

Finland's development cooperation with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is based on the EU Strategy for Central Asia, which was updated in 2015. The EU considers the countries of the region significant partners and regards that specific attention needs to be paid to human rights, education, the environment and security matters.

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were the poorest parts of the Soviet Union, and the transition from the planned economy to the market economy is still under way. The Soviet rule left the countries with considerable environmental problems and the mountainous countries are very vulnerable to climate change.  Both countries are rich in natural resources but the weak economic infrastructure prevents full exploitation of these assets.

Finland has been engaged in programme-based bilateral development cooperation with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan since 2009. The cooperation is conducted as part of the programmes of UN agencies and some projects are carried out in the form of inter-institutional cooperation.

Commercial cooperation

Finland's trade with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan has been modest and the amount of exports has exceeded by far the amount of imports. In connection with the Aid for Trade (AfT) project, the potential for increasing imports were examined.    

Civil society organisations

The Abilis Foundation, which promotes the rights of persons with disabilities, works in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Fida International, which is a missionary and development cooperation organisation, works in Tajikistan.

Results of cooperation in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

  • The systems of foreign trade have been developed and new export contracts have been concluded with European countries and with Russia. Small farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises have been offered guidance and training has been organised to help them improve production and the value chains.  In 2015–2017, nearly 1,000 new jobs were created.
  • The countries have been assisted in the establishment of a legal aid system – more than 70,000 persons received legal aid services in 2014–2017 –  as well as in the ratification of international human rights agreements.
  • Fish farming associations have established independent fish hatcheries and fish feed production in Kyrgyzstan. In 2009–2016, fish production increased from 193 to 2,020 tons, which means that it grew tenfold in eight years. The increase in the volume of production has a significant importance for food security in Kyrgyzstan.

Risk management

As Finland does not have a diplomatic mission in Kyrgyzstan or in Tajikistan, the projects are implemented through UN agencies or Finnish government agencies in order to minimise any risks related to the use of funds. Liaising with organisations and authorities that are well familiar with the countries also reduces risks associated with political instability and security matters.

The governance methods inherited from the Soviet era combined with government officials' low salaries and inadequate funding of activities have led to poorly functioning and ineffective institutions with high staff turnover. In all its cooperation, Finland aims to strengthen public officials' expertise and to encourage the adoption of transparent governance methods. In addition, Finland supports the countries' efforts to obtain more funding by means of increasing administrative services and sale of goods.

Finland’s support

  • Aid for Trade (AfT) project in Central Asia, Phase IV, EUR 4.8 million.  Implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2018–2021.
  • Finland's Water Management Programme (FinWaterWEI) in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Phase II, EUR 7.8 million.  Implemented by the Finnish Environment Institute, 2014–2018
  • From the Crisis towards Decent and Safe Jobs in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Phase II, EUR 4 million. Implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO), 2014–2019.
  • Strengthening the Mastering of Natural Resources in the Kyrgyz Republic, Phase II, EUR 1.6 million. Implemented by the Geological Survey of Finland, 2014–2018.
  • Strengthening the Mastering of Natural Resources in Tajikistan, Phase II, EUR 1.6 million. Implemented by the Geological Survey of Finland in 2014–2018.
  • Widening Access to Justice for Legal Empowerment in the Kyrgyz Republic, Phase II, EUR 1.7 million. Implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 2018–2021.
  • Strengthening Rule of Law and Human Rights to Empower People in Tajikistan, phase II, EUR 1.7 million. Implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 2018–2021.
  • Finnish-Kyrgyz Meteorology Project (FINKMET), Phase II, EUR 500,000.
  •  Implemented by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, 2018–2021.
  • Finnish-Tajikistan Meteorology Project (FINTAJ), Phase II, EUR 500,000. Implemented by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, 2018-2020.
  • Towards Sustainable Aquaculture and Fisheries Development in the Kyrgyz Republic, Phase III, 2018–2019. Implemented by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).