584. The Batken oblast was formed in 1999 from three former rayons of the Osh oblast and occupies an area of 17 thousand square miles. The population of the oblast is 7.9 percent of the total population of the Republic and mainly lives in rural areas. The level of poverty had declined there in recent years and in 2001 was 41.2 percent of its population that was 6.4 percent lower than that of the Republic as a whole. Annual income per capita in 2001 increased by 17.4 percent compared with 2000, but it is still rather low and constitutes 31 percent of the average republican level. Subsidies for utility services, electric and thermal power, natural gas and sanatorium and spa treatments are provided to 18.7 percent of the inhabitants, while 22.2 percent of families receive state benefits.
585. Social Sphere and Social Mobilization
Community organizations have been established within the local government structures in Batken oblast for self-mobilization of the population, participation in decision-making processes and rendering effective assistance to the poor. They carry out active work on improvement of rural infrastructure, securing clean drinking water for the population, identification of poor and extremely poor families, providing them with targeted assistance.
The program, Political and Administrative Governance at the Level of Local Governments, is being implemented in the Batken Oblast with UNDP support. Representatives of local communities have established 92 self-governing community organizations, which unite 2,776 people. They have already accumulated 326,700 soms as their own resources, as well as having raised 3.14 million soms for implementation of mini-capital grant projects. In 2001 they completed 15 projects and 5 projects are still under implementation, of which 13 projects involved construction of water pipelines. Improvement of access to clean water will be promoted through implementation of the project, Community-Based Sector of Infrastructure Services, financed by the ADB, under which it is planned to rehabilitate and construct water pipelines in 100 villages of the oblast and Kyzyl-Kiya City within several years.
The Batken oblast is one of the few where the number of secondary schools increased by 5 percent within the last two years and at present it has 2007 schools. Three schools are to be repaired under the ADB project, Development of the Educational Sector. At the same time, the number of teachers has remained practically unchanged, which is indicative of their shortage, in particular in villages. Schools are not sufficiently supplied with textbooks; they badly need equipment for computer classrooms.
There are 74 clinics and obstetric points, 30 hospitals, while Family Group Practioners (FGP) are being established in the oblast. Nonetheless, the existing system is still unable to provide the population with necessary access to health care services. Within the framework of the World Bank project, Health Care-2, it is planned that 7 facilities for the FGP and Sanitation and Epidemiological Stations (SES) for the amount of 1.3 million soms will be repaired.
As of July 1, 2002 employment services of the oblast registered 9,977 unemployed looking for work, of which the official status of unemployed have been granted to 5,966 people. To reduce the level of unemployment, in June of 2002 the employment services engaged 460 unemployed in paid public works and provided training for 206 people. During the first half of 2002 the employment services allocated micro-credits for the amount of 800 thousand soms to 107 unemployed, the KAFC approved 73 applications for loans totaling 3.8 million soms. In 2001 total loans of 10.1 million soms was provided to 2.1 thousand unemployed in the Batken oblast.
586. Real Sector
The Batken oblast produces 3.8 percent of the total GDP of the Republic. The shares of industry and agriculture are 2.5 percent and 9 percent, respectively, of the total republican output. The industry of the oblast consists mainly of seven large enterprises producing mercury, antimony and coal. Their share in total industrial output of the oblast is 34.3 percent. The share of the largest enterprise, JSC Kadamjai Antimony Industrial Complex, is 11.2 percent of industrial output of the region. Processing industry of the oblast in mainly represented by such large enterprises as JSC Tort-Gul PVK, Kyzyl-Kiya Tobacco Fermenting Factory, agricultural cooperative Agroplast, which process grapes, tobacco, and tomatoes. The share of the largest processing enterprise, JSC Tort-Gul PVK, is 65 percent of the gross output of the oblast’s processing industries.
A sustainable growth rate of industrial output in the medium term will be assured through development of mining enterprises, food and processing industries, small and medium businesses, as well as by increasing production of mercury and antimony, coal, agricultural produce processing.
The agriculture sector mainly grows cash crops (tobacco, cotton), grain (wheat, corn, rice), fruit (grapes, apricots). In the medium term, it is expected that production output would grow by 7 percent due to cultivation of unused land and increasing yield capacity of agricultural crops. Livestock breeding (cows, yaks, sheep and goats) and poultry farming are carried out. The Batken oblast has 10 percent of cows and 11.6 percent of sheep and goats out of the total number of stock in the Republic.
Financial services for agricultural commodity producers are provided by credit unions, KAFC and various international funds. The KAFC has significantly increased lending volumes; in the first half of 2002 it extended loans for a total amount of 26.7 million soms, against 24 million soms in 2001.
Twenty-one associations of water users have been established in the oblast under the project, On-Farm Irrigation, financed by the World Bank. Members of these associations take an active part in distribution and effective use of irrigation water, as well as rehabilitation and construction of irrigation networks.
Small and medium business is developing dynamically. Thus, the share of industrial products produced by SME in total industrial output increased from 28.2 percent in 1999 to 45.4 percent in 2001, and for January-June of 2002 reached the level of 60.7 percent. Development of SME is significantly promoted by financing programs established at the level of the Republic, including micro-finance. Further development of SME will be supported by simplification of registration procedures, reduction in the number of inspections by state regulatory bodies, creation of a favorable investment climate. In addition, the Government of Germany will provide special assistance to the Batken oblast, including assistance for the processing industry.
Development of transport, communications, including local airports, as well as access to regional large markets for selling local products, has a significant impact on development of the oblast.
In the last two years, the volume of capital investment in the Batken oblast increased almost 3 times. According to preliminary estimations they will amount to 425 million soms in 2002. About 8-9 percent of the financing envisaged for capital construction in the oblast is allocated from the national budget. The volume of attracted direct investments to the Batken oblast significantly increased from UD$30,000 in 1999 to more than US$1 million in 2001. At the same time, potential investors are impeded by its geographic remoteness, underdeveloped communications, and lack of services, including financial services.
There are a number of problems hindering development of the Batken oblast and the process of poverty reduction. They include low income per capita, limited access to clean potable water, underdeveloped infrastructure and services, remoteness from large markets. Lack of irrigation water limits effective land use. The extent of processing of agricultural products is low. Large enterprises require improved management and investments for ensuring stable operations.
To solve the existing problems and attain the major goal, creation of conditions for sustainable economic growth and reduction of poverty in the oblast, the Program on Development of the Batken Oblast for 2000-2005 have been adopted and is under implementation. The program envisages that activities of government bodies, local self-government of the Batken oblast shall be focused on the following priority directions:
Increase access to clean potable water by means of rehabilitation and construction of water pipelines in villages and cities of the oblast.
Broaden and improve the quality of services in the area of education and healthcare by repairing and equipping schools and FOP, improvement of the system of management and financing.
Develop transport, including construction and rehabilitation of the highways Kok-Talaa-Pulgon and Pulgon-Burgondu, rehabilitation of roads in Batken city, construction of a bridge across the Sokh river, transfer of the airports located in the territory of the oblast as the responsibility of local self-governments.
Construct irrigation networks that will allow many inhabitants of the oblast to have irrigated land, increase agricultural output and, consequently, higher income.
Create a favorable investment climate and search for investors to develop cattle framing (for example, goat breeding and production of goat fluff), grape growing (production and export of high-quality wine), mini-processing enterprises, especially in small cities and towns.
Support development of small and medium business, individual entrepreneurship.
Establish and develop cooperation among farming enterprises and peasants’ farms, broaden services, marketing and financial service centers.
Carry out timely preventive measures to anticipate natural calamities.