Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan)

Switzerland supports water resource management in all Central Asian states. In Kyrgyzstan, Switzerland also focuses on the priority areas health, public sector reforms and private sector development. Its efforts in Tajikistan target health, the rule of law, access to drinking water and private-sector development. In Uzbekistan, Swiss support focuses on access to drinking water and vocational education and training.

Map of the region Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan)

In Central Asia, a heterogeneous region with substantial income inequalities, poverty is widespread.  Important issues requiring regional solutions, such as water resource management, remain unresolved.

Labour migration, especially to Russia, is high. Many families rely on remittances as a source of income. Migration is further fuelled by the lack of investment in infrastructure, education and health services and the slow progress in reducing corruption and ensuring the rule of law and human rights are respected.

Switzerland’s cooperation with Central Asia promotes peaceful social and economic transition, through projects that support public and private institutions to deliver better services equitably and effectively. Gender equality, conflict-sensitive program management, and governance are themes that cut across all of Switzerland’s activities in Central Asia.

Regional water resource management programme

The management of water and its various uses (irrigation, electricity production, drinking water, etc.) has led to tensions between Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The disputes centre on the Ferghana valley in particular, which all three countries share.  The valley accounts for one third of all Central Asia’s agricultural production.

Switzerland's programme in the region aims to reduce water-related conflicts and disasters by assisting an integrated, transparent and needs-based management of water resources.  Switzerland promotes dialogue among all affected parties, institutional water management reforms, increased water-management efficiency and productivity, strategic data management and disaster risk reduction.

Water – A vital resource under threat

Kyrgyzstan programme

Good governance and improved efficiency in the public sector and the implementation of reforms to promote the private sector remain challenges in Kyrgyzstan.  Switzerland therefore supports health sector reforms to ensure equitable access and to improve the quality of health services to rural communities. It supports public sector reforms to improve service delivery and the efficient use of public resources, in particular by encouraging targeted infrastructure investments in water and energy.

Switzerland's programme also helps strengthen the private sector by promoting a business-friendly environment and supporting business development. In rural areas, the focus is on creating job opportunities for young people and on vocational education and training.

Advocacy and Good Governance

Private Sector Development and financial services

Tajikistan programme

Tajikistan is one of the poorest countries in Central Asia, largely due to the on-going effects of the country’s civil war in the 1990s that destroyed much of the already limited social and economic infrastructure. Switzerland supports the health sector reform, which seeks to transform the costly health system inherited from the Soviet era into a more accessible and affordable family medicine-based system, with a focus on preventive medicine.

To strengthen the rule of law, Switzerland is encouraging the development of a legal system that is more accessible, in particular to vulnerable people, and more responsive to citizens’ needs. Measures focus in particular on legal aid and the implementation of the law on domestic violence.

Thanks to Switzerland, some 300,000 city dwellers and 70,000 people in rural areas will enjoy access to drinking water and sanitation by the end of 2015. Switzerland provides financial and technical assistance to water authorities and communities to build and manage decentralised drinking water systems and to conduct hygiene awareness campaigns.

In the private sector, Switzerland is helping to create a more business-friendly environment by reducing red tape, supporting the development of SMEs and helping textile companies export their products.

Health – A prerequisite for development

Uzbekistan programme

According to official statistics, only 62 % of Uzbekistan's rural population has access to drinking water. Switzerland supports the development of infrastructure for urban and rural water supply and sanitation systems benefitting some 300,000 people in the Ferghana Valley and Syrdarya province, applying a community-based management approach.  In addition, the programme targets institutional reform. Another priority is vocational education and training, seeking to reform vocational curricula for water and sanitation professions and to better equip vocational colleges.

Basic education and vocational training

Water – A vital resource under threat

Start in the early 1990s

Switzerland has been supporting the transition processes in the Central Asia region since the early 1990s. In 1992, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan joined the Swiss-led constituency in the Bretton Woods Institutions; their membership creates a strong tie between the region and Switzerland. As the countries of Central Asia are diverse, development strategies and partnerships have to be adapted to the specific country contexts and thus vary considerably from country to country.

State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO

The joint Swiss cooperation strategy in Central Asia builds on synergies between the technical and economic assistance provided by the SDC and State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

SECO Engagement in Tajikistan

SECO Engagement in Kyrgyzstan

Human Security Divison of the FDFA

The human rights programme launched in 2010 by the Human Security Division complements the SDC programme on the rule of law.

Human rights and human security