Civil Society in Kazakhstan

I. Amendments to Kazakhstan’s NGO legislation – their meaning and benefits 

The suggested amendments to NGO legislation are aimed at enhancing the role and capacity of NGOs in Kazakhstan and strengthening the role of the “Third Sector” in the provision of public services.

First, the amendments propose to introduce grant financing, which will provide Kazakhstan’s NGOs with greater resources to professionalize and carry out their work to international standards. The introduction of grants into the Law "On the state social order" will enable NGOs to retain part of their funds from the state order for their own material and technical development Under current state order legislation, which has been in place for almost a decade, this has not been permitted – this has hindered the development of NGOs providing public services and meant they lag behind NGOs whose capacity has been developed through international grants.

The draft law introduces the well-established international practice of grant financing, which will allow Kazakhstan’s non-governmental sector to progress to a new level of development.

Second, the draft law suggests consolidating and simplifying the procedure of grant distribution by creating a special body (“operator”) in the form of a noncommercial association. The body aims to bring greater organization and efficiency to the process of distributing public funds, mediating between state agencies and their suppliers from the NGO community, and bringing greater transparency to the NGO-State procurement process as a whole.

Moreover, the body will be able to provide independent monitoring and supervision of the implementation of joint NGO-State projects, allowing more effective management and use of funds.

Under the draft law, foreign donors also have the opportunity to provide funds to the operator to organize grant financing of Kazakhstan’s NGO, opening up a new level of cooperation between international donors and the NGO sector.

 

II. Developing and raising standards in the third sector

Currently, there is a sustainable market of NGOs in Kazakhstan providing social services to the population using funds from the state and foreign donors. Around 12,000 NGOs are involved in rendering services to the population in various areas of the social sector. This work is largely focused on work with children and young people, health care, gender development, the protection of human rights and strengthening of the civil society.

Kazakhstan’s market of social services is characterized by the fact that suppliers of these services (NGOs) tend to focus on consulting and public awareness campaigns. Less than 10% of Kazakhstan’s NGOs render services aimed at tackling specific problems of the population, such as support to disabled people, work with troubled teenagers, hospices and maintaining rehabilitation centers.

With this in mind, the new legislation aims to introduce the following measures to develop the role of NGOs in Kazakhstan, and increase their status, public usefulness and importance:

  • The preparation of a public package of documents on amending the current legislation regarding the introduction of a new NGO financing format from the state, and also the increase of transparency of NGO activity for the general public;
  • The initiation of a public campaign on amending NGO registration procedures regarding the inclusion of a specific goal into the Charters defining the main activity of NGOs;
  • The introduction of an institution of public standardization of NGO activity based on a professional approach to work in the social sector;

 

III. Introducing NGO grants

Introducing a grant system of financing NGOs has the following advantages:

  • It will allow the allocation of budgetary funds for social projects and programs developed by NGO;
  • NGOs will be able to allocate part of their grant funds for their own development, including strengthening their material and technical base, or sending employees on studies for professional development;
  • Grant financing is not subject to the Law "On state procurements" and, thus, the allocation of NGO funds does not rest upon the requirements imposed on commercial institutions.

 

IV. Awards to NGOs - supporting institutional development

This draft law aims to establish a system of institutional development and includes a mechanism called the “Award to NGOs”. The use of the term “award” makes it possible to provide NGOs with non-repayable public funds (similar to “Daryn” or “Paryz” award) to use for institutional development.

The Awards are aimed at assisting NGOs in their development and in the early stages of project implementation when NGOs often have limited access to money.

The draft law envisages a transparent process of award allocation.

At the same time awards to non-governmental organizations may be used for charitable purposes, material and technical facilities and the training of non-governmental organization staff, i.e. the institutional development of NGOs.


V. Improving the procurement process – introducing a centralized body to allocate budget funds to NGOs

The draft law “On amendments and supplements to several legislative acts on NGO activities” envisages the establishment of a separate body to accumulate funds from all state agencies and conduct independent bidding processes to allocate grants to NGOs.

International experience has shown that the centralized management of grants has helped both in the development of civil society capacity and in bringing greater impact and efficiency to the use of public funds.

With financing provided through the single operator, NGOs won’t depend on national legislation on government procurement. Currently, NGOs bid to provide services set out by the Government under the Law “On government procurement”. This would change and NGOs will themselves be able to put forward their vision and proposals for new projects.

Another important advantage is that the risk of corruption will be greatly reduced and client-contractor relationships will not constitute an impediment to the initiatives and aspirations of NGOs.

All these changes to the current law “On state social order” are incorporated the new draft law.