599. The Talas oblast is the most sparsely populated of all the regions with 4.2 percent of the total population of the Republic. In 2001 the poverty level decreased by 5.4 percent and comprised 67.3 percent of the populations, 19.7 percent higher than the average level for the Republic. Poverty is spread more in cities than in rural areas. In 2001, income per capita increased by 13.6 percent and averaged 4,447.60 soms, but this represents only 52 percent of the average republican rate.
600. Social sector and social mobilization
In the oblast 12,101 persons, or 6 percent of the population, receive different benefits, while 24.9 percent of families obtain state social benefits. As a result of a survey and the issue of “social passports” it had been determined that 43.5 percent of families fall into the low-income category.
To extend a comprehensive assistance to the poor under the Araket National Program, funds for poverty alleviation have been established in each rayon and in Talas City. A variety of 223 non-commercial organizations are active in the Talas oblast. Moreover, with UNDP assistance (Decentralization and Poverty Alleviation programs), 85 community-based organizations have been created that have their own savings funds with which they lend to the poorest members in the community and organize different self-initiative activities. Such funds are also used to improve populated centers, expand water supply systems, repair and maintain schools and kindergartens and medical institutions, assist in development of small and medium enterprises, and support poor families, lonely people (without families) and the elderly. The Civil Fund, Soros Foundation and others provide great assistance on poverty alleviation. Such forms of social support as help extended by wealthy people to the poor families through provision of animals, tillage of land plots and other forms of assistance is widely spread in the oblast.
At present there are 109 secondary schools in the Talas oblast, which are attended by 52,344 children. Continuous activities on strengthening logistics of educational institutions are being conducted. Under the ADB funded project, Education Sector Development, the heating system has been repaired and equipment and textbooks have been procured for 9 pilot schools. In all, schools repairs and preparation for the 2002/2003 academic year has been completed. More than 4 million soms were spent from extra-budget funds, resources from sponsors and the community for the current repairs. One of the factors limiting children’s access to education is insufficient supply of textbooks that is currently about 60 percent. Shortage of teachers is observed in the rural areas.
To implement the objectives of the “Manas” National program for reforming health care and the project, Health Care-2, funded by the World Bank, 38 Family Group Practices and 5 Centers of Family Medicine have been organized in the oblast, hospitals are being repaired. In Talas city, an Educational and Methodological Center of Family Medicine, a branch of the Institute for Upgrading the Skills of Physicians and Medical Employees has been opened where doctors and nurses for groups of family practices are trained. In accordance with the national program, Tuberculosis-2, monitoring of the situation on the incidence of tuberculosis is regularly carried out. The Oblast Sanitary Department continually controls 53 water pipelines. The level of access to pure drinking water is insufficient in the oblast, and water pipeline supply is 77.6 percent. Under the project, Water Supply and Sanitation, funded by the World Bank, rehabilitation and construction of water pipelines in 9 villages of the oblast is expected. In Talas City it is planned to purge drainage systems.
As of July 1, 2002, the number of unemployed citizens registered with the employment departments and seeking for jobs was 3,093. 111 of them were employed during the month of June. In 2001 more than 6,733 unemployed were provided with training, paid community activities, available position openings and new jobs. Expansion of micro-financing services is one of the most important policy trends to increase employment and reduce poverty rate. During the first six months of 2002 the micro credits for a total of 11.9 million soms were disbursed to 800 citizens, including the micro credits by the Employment Fund line for 700 thousand soms to 86 unemployed in the oblast. For the same period, KAFC disbursed loans amounting to 2.1 million soms. To support the Ayalzat National program, the Women’s Initiative Center has been established and 95 unemployed women obtained micro credits totaling 58 thousand soms. A branch of the Ak-Peiyil Foundation is operating, which has extended micro credits in the amount of 384.0 thousand soms. Currently, 11 lending sources operate in the oblast, including associations of credit unions, oblast micro credit center, other community non-governmental organizations and unions. In 2001, 716 families that obtained micro credits improved their welfare.
601. Real sector
4.6 percent of the Republic’s GDP volume is produced in the Talas Oblast. Industry is mainly represented by agricultural produce processing and food production enterprises. In the medium term, some growth is possible in industrial production by attracting investments, introduction of new technologies and equipment revamping in processing enterprises, creation of necessary conditions to develop mini-production for processing agricultural produce in small towns. Considering an increase in the world prices for gold it is very promising to develop the Jerui gold mine.
Grains, sugar beet, potatoes, vegetables, tobacco and oil crops are the main agricultural crops. Growing french beans is a promising venture. During the past years growth in agricultural output exceeded 10 percent. Further sustainable growth will be ensured by increasing yields, turnover of unused lands and improving irrigation systems. Associations of water users have been established in all populated areas to effectively use water for irrigation. There is a potential for growth in livestock by increasing the number of cattle and productivity.
Small and medium businesses and entrepreneurial activity comprise a significant part of the real sector with a share of about 82 percent of industrial production. SME development is more promising in the agro-processing sector, increasing the extent of processing and bringing it to finished product. Further SME development by creation of favorable conditions will establish a sustainable basis for economic growth, population employment and poverty reduction.
At present, financial services in the Talas oblast are provided by 25 credit unions, KAFC, State Fund for Support of Small and Medium Businesses, NGOs and community organizations. In 2002 it is planned to increase the number of credit unions by 40 with authorized capital of 10.1 million soms. During the first half of 2002, KAFC allocated 36.2 million soms against 30 million soms in 2001. Essential support comes from international financial organizations, in particular the UNDP extended technical credit totaling 5.2 million soms for rural poverty reduction.
The oblast has a potential for exporting agricultural products to Kazakhstan and Russia. To improve interregional trade, the road Taraz (Kazakhstan) – Talas - Suusamyr is being rehabilitated. Together with that, it is necessary to rehabilitate and widen roads of local importance and telecommunication services. It is also crucial to lift trade and administrative constraints for transiting cargo through Kazakhstan.
The main problems in the Talas oblast are a low level of access to pure drinking water, inadequate quality of services in education and health care, unemployment and insufficient SME development. Lack of marketing channels in agriculture and cooperation among rural commodity producers often leads to overproduction in certain type of crops and revenue losses by farming enterprises and peasants’ farms. Existing internal and external barriers hinder trade development. Underdeveloped telecommunication restricts public access to communication services, and does not permit wide use of information technology, in particular to improve efficiency of governing bodies.
The Manas Ruhu program has been adopted and is being implemented, the major objective of which is to achieve stable social and economic growth in the oblast and reduce poverty. This program is closely linked with goals and objectives of (CDF) and also takes into account the particular character of development of the region. The program undertakes activities related to:
Expand access to pure drinking water by rehabilitating and constructing water pipes.
Improve quality of services in education and health care by further extension of reforms, repairs and construction of schools and hospitals, equipping with necessary equipment and textbooks, creating conditions to retain qualified personnel, in particular, in rural areas.
Create favorable conditions to carry on business activities, attract direct investments, increase the number of SMEs and create jobs.
Assist agricultural producers in establishing cooperatives for processing and marketing of agricultural commodities, expand network of credit unions, attract loans and direct investments, procuring seeds, fuel and fertilizers.
Strengthen the logistics base of 16 seed farms to obtain high-yield and qualitative grades of wheat, corn, barley and other varieties of agricultural commodities.
Rehabilitate and construct local roads, develop telecommunication networks and expand access to communication services.