596. The Osh oblast is one of the largest southern regions in Kyrgyzstan, occupying an area of 29.2 square kilometers or 14.6 percent of the whole territory of the Republic. 24.5 percent of the total population lives t here. The oblast center, the city of Osh has the status of the southern capital of the Kyrgyz Republic.
The poverty level in 2001 increased by 4.5 percent and constituted 56.1 percent, which is 8.6 percent higher than the average republican indicator. Poverty in rural areas is wide spread. Per capita income in 2001 increased by 15 percent and totaled 6,933.1 soms, but it is still 20 percent lower that the average republican level.
597. Social Sphere and Social Mobilization
The Osh oblast is one of the few where the number of schools has increased in the recent years. At present there are 547 secondary schools, attended by 31.3 thousand children. 217 extra-budgetary funds have been established for education support, extending financing of 316.8 thousand soms to provide free hot meals for 1.6 thousand children. During 2001 and the first six months of 2002, about 5 thousand schoolchildren received clothes and shoes for the amount of 1.4 million soms. Library funds provided 21.1 thousand children with an opportunity to use textbooks for free. There are 250 various social units functioning within schools. Notwithstanding an increase in the number of teachers, the issue of retaining qualified staff in schools, in particular, rural schools, is very acute. There is a shortage of textbooks, the level of equipping with implements, equipment and computer class-rooms is insufficient.
The network of the healthcare system in the Osh oblast comprises 7 central rayon and 1 city hospitals, 18 oblast therapeutic establishments, 239 medical obstetric stations, 8 sanitary and epidemiological centers. As of today, 166 family group practices and 14 family medicine centers have been established. FGPs serve 1,042,800 people, of which 535,400 have medical insurance.
Only 35.6 percent of the population in the oblast have access to clean potable water, about 80 percent of water pipelines in rural areas are out of operation, which leads to high risks of spreading diseases related to the use of low-quality water. Access to clean water will be expanded as a result of implementation of the project, Community-Based Sector of Infrastructure Services, within the framework of which it is intended to rehabilitate and construct water pipelines in 250 villages of the oblast within 5 years. During 2001, more than 1,800 kilometers of water pipelines with 121 main intake facilities were constructed and put into operation. In 2002, it is planned to rehabilitate and construct new water pipelines in 56 populated areas. At present, construction works are in progress in the settlements of the Kara-Suu and Uzgen rayons.
Improvement of the quality of education and healthcare services will be promoted through implementation of the projects, Development of Educational Sector and Health Care –2, as well as the program, Motherhood and Childhood Protection-2. These projects and programs envisage implementation of further reforms in the education sector, formation of an effective and sustainable system of provision of medical services, procurement of textbooks, equipment and repairs of schools and hospitals. In 2001, within the framework of the ADB project, Provision and Financing of Social Services, capital repairs will be conducted and equipment and furniture will be procured in 22 schools of the oblast. 16 schools and 123 medical establishments will be repaired in 2002.
An obvious tendency towards reduction in the number of families receiving state benefits is being observed in the Osh oblast thanks to effective measures undertaken to strengthen the targeted nature of social assistance. As of July 1 2002, social passports have been issued to 130,200 poor families, which is 86 percent of the total number of families subject to survey. As a result of the survey and preparation of social passports, an oblast database has been established and 43,481 families have been identified as those in need of state support.
Pilot projects within the framework of the program, Political and Administrative Governance at the Level of Local Governments (components Decentralization and Poverty Alleviation) are being implemented with the support of the UNDP in three aiyl-okmotu; their goal is to support self-development initiatives of local communities using their own fund and resources.
1,279 community organizations and 1,579 self-help groups have been established and function in the oblast using the experience of a number of international organizations. During 2001 and the first half of 2002 they undertook projects at their own expense on construction and putting in operation of more than 50 social infrastructure facilities costing 13.5 million soms. These given facilities have been constructed by the efforts of communities.
The Center on Micro-Finance works with the unemployed of the oblast. From the beginning of 2002 training courses have been provided to 468 people. In 2001 the Center extended micro-credits to 1,305 unemployed for the amount of 5.2 million soms, within the first half of the current year to 376 unemployed for the amount of 1.9 million soms. During this period 7,012 jobs have been created, of which 2,135 jobs were created by the employment fund, and the development of small and medium business created 3,028 jobs. In 2001 the loans extended by the KAFC totaled 16.2 million soms, and in the first half of 2002, 4.2 million soms. On the whole, the measures taken alleviate the tensions in the labor market, but do not provide a radical solution for the problem of unemployment. This problem needs to be resolved by significant expansion of the scale of small and medium business and revival of the real sector.
598. Real Sector
The Osh oblast produces 14.1 percent of GDP of the Republic, 6.2 percent of industrial output, 17.9 percent of gross agricultural output, 19.7 percent of retail commodity turnover and 17.0 percent of paid services to the population. Light industry is the leading sector in the region. Large enterprises of the light industry sector are: JSC Tekstilschik, JSC Osh-Jibek, JSC Ak-Bula in Aravan rayon, JSC Ak-Altyn in the Kara-Suu rayon. Approximately 35.6 percent of light industry products of the Republic are produced in the Osh oblast. Light industry products are mainly textiles. The share of food stuff production in the processing industry is 30.0 percent; these are mainly bakery products, liquors and meat and dairy products. Tobacco, flour and cereal sectors are also well established.
A dominant position in the economy of the oblast belongs to the agricurlture sector, the major products of which are grain, cotton, tobacco, vegetables, fruit and oil crops. Activities in livestock breeding are mainly related to horned cattle, goat and sheep breeding. The oblast has 23.3 percent of the cows and 22.6 percent of the sheep and goats of the Republic. Slow but stable growth in the number of livestock provides for an increase in production of meat, milk and wool. Notwithstanding the limited land resources suitable for agricultural purposes, the oblast has a sufficient potential to increase agricultural output, in particular by increasing yield capacity as a result of applying new technologies (for example, gowning cotton under plastic covering). In the medium term, such measures will allow attainment of a growth rate of 6 percent. Growth in agricultural output will generate raw materials for enterprises of the processing and light industries. It is necessary to stimulate work in rural areas on establishment and development of small processing enterprises to maximize use of local raw materials. This work will be also promoted by implementation of the USAID project, Development of Agribusiness, in the Osh oblast.
Small and medium business of the oblast is developing dynamically. This ensures positive growth rates of the industrial products produced by small and medium businesses. In the first half of 2002 industrial output of small and medium enterprises increased by 22.1 percent as compared to the corresponding period of the last year. The share of industrial products of small and medium business enterprises in total industrial output is about 41 percent. The number of individuals engaged in individual patent-based entrepreneurial activities is increasing. In the first half of 2002 there were 50.7 thousand (taxation) patents issued for the total amount of 12.0 million soms, which is 5.6 thousand patents more than in the corresponding period of 2001.
There are more than ten financial and crediting institutions, various public foundations and centers, branches of 9 commercial banks operating in the oblast. In 2002 they extended credits to enterprises and individuals for the total amount of 328.2 million soms, which is 85.2 million soms more than in the corresponding period of the last year. In the first half of 2002, the amount of credits approved by the KAFC throughout the oblast totaled 116.3 million soms, and during the whole year of 2001, 130 million soms.
Special attention is paid to development of tourism infrastructure, upgrading the level of services, strengthening the material and technical basis of the existing facilities. For this purpose the oblast Program on Development of Tourism till 2010 have been developed and approved, the Steering Committee is working on its implementation.
Rehabilitation of the highway Bishkek – Osh has become an additional impetus for development of the oblast. The flows of cargo between the northern and southern regions have increase significantly, and relevant infrastructure has started developing. At the same time, the underdeveloped road network within the region, its poor condition, low quality of services, and limited access to telecommunication, negatively affect the oblast’s attractiveness for potential investors.
Osh oblast has a number of problems impeding sustainable development and poverty reduction. This is connected with a low income per capita, limited access to clean potable water, underdeveloped infrastructure and services, in particular financial services, remoteness from large markets, and a shortage of irrigated land. Lack of adequate management and marketing promotion of agricultural products has led to a decrease in the farmers’ incomes. The extent of processing of agricultural products is still low. The Program of the state administration of the Osh oblast, Improvement of the Living Standards of the Population, and the State Program, Comprehensive Social and Economic Development of Osh City for 2001-2010, are aimed at solution of these problems.
Priorities for development of the oblast for 2003-2005 will be agriculture, light and food industry, service sector, transport and communications.
In order to solve the existing problems and attain the major goal, poverty reduction, the activities of public administration bodies and local self-government of the Osh oblast shall be focused on the following policy priorities:
Increase access of the population to clean potable water, high-quality health care and educational services. It is necessary to continue with repairs and construction of water pipelines, hospitals and schools, in particular in rural areas.
Broad use of internal potential of the population in poverty reduction. For this purpose it is necessary to intensify the work on social mobilization of the population, establishment of community-based organizations and self-help groups, carry out explanatory work among the population about the role of community-based organizations and self-help groups.
Broaden and strengthen the role of social partnership among government structures, local self-government and international and non-government organizations in a comprehensive approach to poverty reduction. For this purpose it is necessary to use widely the work experience on poverty reduction of a number of international organizations. With the support of international organizations working in the region to continue the work on preparation of national volunteers on rendering targeted social assistance.
Provide the population with access to basic social and cultural facilities. It is necessary to prepare a plan on construction of social and cultural facilities in all populated areas. To organize joint work of local self-government bodies, international, non-governmental and community-based organizations. It is intended to use the resources of the local budget, international, non-governmental and community-based organizations.
Broaden the variety and improving the quality of financial services (credits and micro-credits). To continue the work on conducting explanatory work among the population about crediting and micro-finance, by organizing presentations of financial establishments and meeting with the heads of managing structures dealing with extension of financing (to reduce the interest rate, simplify the mechanism of submission of the documents, to prolong the period of repayment).
Reorganize the structure of primary medical and sanitary assistance. Formation of the family group practices. Retraining of medical personnel in the area of family medicine. Equipping of newly established centers of family medicine with modern medical diagnostic equipment.
Secure qualified pedagogical staff for schools, especially in rural areas. To promote the work on upgrading professional skills of teaching staff. The heads of local self-governments should provide for necessary housing conditions and utility services for arriving young specialists.
Attract foreign direct investment and promote development of small and medium business by creating conductive environment for entrepreneurship and an attractive investment climate.
Increase the extent of processing of agricultural products by establishing and developing a cooperation network, wholesale markets, improvement of marketing.
Reconstruct and broaden the roads of local importance, increasing access to telecommunication services, including television and telephone communication, Internet.