Public awareness is one of the important tasks of Local Self-Government. How was it addressed in Toguz-Toro ayil aimak?

Toguz-Toro ayil aimak is one the most remote rural municipalities of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Toguz-Toro ayil aimak is one the most remote rural municipalities of the Kyrgyz Republic. Winter comes in October and can last up to 7 months. Distance to Bishkek over Sary-Kyr height is relatively small, it is 560 km, but due to the poor shape of roads links with the “world” capital are available only 4 months a year. In this regard, the international donor projects and investors normally have little incentive not only to this ayil aimak, but Toguz-Toro rayon as a whole.

That is why Toguz-Toro was surprised and happy to be chosen on a competitive basis to cooperate with the Swiss Government funded VAP back in August 2012. Within this cooperation 22 meetings were held to identify priority problems of the residents (PRA), 30 complex issues were defined among which 11 major problems were selected for immediate addressing: clean water, internal roads, technics, lighting of streets, canals, baths, mills, gyms, lack of population awareness. Toguz-Toro LSG have learned much from the VAP how to participatory assess local concerns, how to engage people in addressing issues of local significance, how to effective cooperation. Municipality welcomed the VAP Model and initiated formation of the Initiative groups from among the active citizens, who were actively involved into design of Joint action plan (plan of communities and local self-government). Thus initiative groups as “Den Sooluk”, “Kairat”, ”Temir” were created in the aimak, which together with the ayil okmotu developed the joint action plan. The plan included about 47 activities to address eleven priority issues, it was approved by the local council at the session in March 2013, and since then the joint efforts of local self-governments and communities have already fully addressed two priority issues (9 remain), by conducting 24 events focused on improvements of priorities.

Lack of public awareness is the last in the list of priority problems identified during PRAs, but has not the least importance. Geographical isolation of the community, poor communication with the center generated a feeling of detachment from the outside world, creating a hunger for information among the public. Difficult access to information generally requires local self-governments greater efforts to establish effective communication, rich information exchange with the public. It is the only way to maintain social stability, to inspire people with hope and encourage them to creativity.

However, to enhance the information exchange requires appropriate facilities and recourses, which have not been available in the village for many years. Ayil okmotu did not even have its own building, and in order to hold public events, meetings the classes of high school were utilized at extra curriculum time. It was very uncomfortable for both LSG and for the school and for the citizens themselves. In fact, it is not very nice in the winter, in the dark and cold to go to the meetings after the school hours. Not surprisingly, the problem of creating conditions for dialogue with the population was selected by the community as a priority. To address it ayil okmotu with the support of the local council and citizens developed the project, which in result of participation in the VAP grant competition received financial support in the amount of 1 million soms from GIZ. Additionally, the local budget allocated its own funds of 100 thousand soms.

The funds were utilized to create a conference room and an electronic library. In result the building of ayil kenesh was renovated, a new conference room and electronic library were established. Repair costs amounted to 700 thousand soms. Also for 300 thousand soms furniture and equipment were purchased: 7 tables, 70 chairs, bookshelves, two computers, a printer, a projector, a music phone YAMAHA and others. Information boards about the local budget performance were installed in the conference room. Now people have access to public information, including e-books and laws. Besides, Toguz-Toro participated in VAP “Local initiative” competition and received a prize in the amount of 100 thousand soms, and purchased TV, DVD, computer, printer, multifunction printer, color printer, video camera and laptop to better equip the information Center.

Finally, in May 21, 2014 the opening of the e-library was held, which became an important event not only for Toguz-Toro ayil aimak, but also for the entire rayon. The event was attended by over 100 people - residents of the village and neighboring ayil aimaks and guests.

Tilek IDIRISOV, head of the local public administration of Toguz-Toro rayon said: “The opening of a conference room and the electronic library provides unprecedented access to a wealth of information for both adults and children. It is very important that the leaders of neighboring municipalities, witnessing the opening of the conference room and the library, were excited by this idea and decided to do something like that in their municipalities”.

Burganbubu ISAMAMBETOVA, head of Toguz-Toro culture center said: “Today we have a great holiday in Toguz-Toro rayon - the opening of a conference room and a modern library with all the latest innovations! Since the time of the declaration of independence of Kyrgyzstan the culture centers and libraries have been neglected by the local authorities. Therefore, today's event is a great pride! With the opening of the electronic library local people will get more comprehensive information about the laws, news. Out people will be better informed and educated. I am very pleased that this achievement is the achievement of local community, the result of citizen participation, rather than I directive from the Center. We see the results of the initiative groups work and operation of the community engagement Model operation, which was brought to us by the VAP!”

Author: Rahatbek ABDYKADYROV, Head of Toguz-Toro ayil aimak

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