Innovative Project to Improve Livelihoods of Rural Women in Kyrgyz Republic

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - A US$2 million grant from ADB's Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR), financed by the Government of Japan, will help develop the Kyrgyz Republic's handicraft industry improve the livelihoods of rural women.

During the winter season, the wool-based cottage industry, which is run almost exclusively by women, is often the only means to earn income in remote rural areas. Handicrafts produced – mainly felt, fiber, textile, leather, fur, and wooden articles – have been identified by a technical assistance from the European Union to be marketable and exportable.

The absence of appropriate equipment, however, is a major constraint, and there is considerable room for improving product quality. While some areas have handicraft centers for coordinating activities, the capacity of these is limited.

“This sector has significant potential to grow and, consequently, improve the lives of women and their families in rural areas,” says Asel Chyngysheva, an ADB Project Implementation Officer.

The grant project aims to improve the productivity, diversity, and quality of handicraft production, while establishing efficient marketing services and facilities.

The project will help organize the existing, mostly informal, handicrafts centers in rural areas. It will renovate and equip these centers; help establish a coordination and marketing center in Bishkek as well as a satellite center in the South; and build the centers’ technical, management, and marketing capacities.

“By empowering the women to market their products without the help of big businesses, this will eliminate exploitation and reduce marketing costs,” adds Ms. Chyngysheva.

The project will undertake nine pilot subprojects in Issyk-Kul, Naryn, and Talas oblasts, as well as subprojects in Batken, Djalalabat, and Osh oblasts afterwards.

The Government and beneficiaries will contribute $209,000 equivalent to the project’s total estimated cost of $2.2 million. The Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Tourism is the executing agency for the project, which will be carried out over about three years.

The JFPR was set up in 2000 with an initial contribution of $90 million, followed by additional contributions totaling $155 million in 2002, and annual contributions up to 2006 bringing the total amount to $360 million.