Skip to Content

news | March 02, 2011 | Kyrgyzstan | Development

ACTED engages Kyrgyz youth in the promotion of peace and development

Friendship festival at a primary school in Kara-Suu district, Osh region.

Youth in rural areas of south Kyrgyzstan are often socially and economically marginalized, as illustrated by the 15.2 % unemployment rate for youth under 25 – nearly double the national average. Idle time and frustration with the absence of economic opportunities, combined with the limited availability of cultural and social resources and activities, have contributed to a disenfranchisement of young people, and the rise of tensions and divisions amongst youth in rural areas. These factors can lead to significant risks of unrest in the region, and threaten the social stability of south Kyrgyzstan, as illustrated by the violent conflict that broke out in the region in June 2010.

In this context, ACTED has been working on the involvement of youth and children from Osh, Jalalabad, Naryn and Batken, in community efforts to promote peace and reconciliation. By empowering youth and helping them become agents of peaceful change, ACTED, with support from UNICEF and the OSCE, is investing in the future generations of the country, allowing them to have a positive impact on their communities.

Supporting economic and cultural initiatives for youth in remote rural areaRecitation of  “Manas”, an epic poem in Kyrgyz. s

In the village of Min-Kush, young people were able to open a sports club, with free access. This was made possible by one of the youth initiatives supported by ACTED. ACTED has been teaching basic entrepreneur skills to selected youth and has provided them with funds and equipment to launch socially beneficial projects. Similarly, other groups of young people were able to open a music club, rehabilitate irrigation facilities, or launch a small gas station. This has empowered youth not only by allowing them to acquire new skills, but also by giving them an opportunity to generate an income, and contribute to the social development of their community by reinvesting their profits to address youth social needs in their village.

Promoting tolerance and inter-community dialogue among school children

In cross-border areas of Batken and Jalalabad, children and other community members are often confronted with challenging and conflictual situations. In order to provide these children with the tools to peacefully resolve such encounters and to encourage them to think about the benefits of tolerance and dialogue, ACTED organized a number of events targeting school students. Sports competitions and traditional holiday celebrations were held where youth from various communities came together on neutral ground to celebrate their common points and build friendly relationships.

Theatre showsAbdulaziz and a classmate paint a classroom were also held in 21 schools, each illustrating a specific cross border issue, including difficulties in crossing the border to visit relatives, access schools, pastures, or negligence of laws and rules by border guards. These shows were presented to parents, local authorities and other community members, and were followed by discussions on the causes and possible solutions to cross-border conflicts. Target communities and children were empowered as a result of these shows, which demonstrated that the power to resolve tensions lies in their own hands.

Trusting youth as peace promoters

Abdulaziz, an 18 year old university student, was selected by ACTED and target communities in Kara Suu to be trained as a Youth Peace Promoter. As part of this work, he was trained in peace promotion and conflict resolution, and was actively involved in promoting peace among students of his former school. He was also responsible for carrying out some small rehabilitation works, and was thus given a chance to generate a small income, learn technical skills and improve the learning environment of children from his community.

Abdulaziz was glad to have an opportunity to learn about tolerance, and encourage peaceful dialogue in schools:

“Before, when boys were fighting at school, I would drag them apart and rough them up for them not to start fighting again, but this didn’t work. Now I listen to what both sides of those in the argument have to say and try to bring them to an agreement, so that they feel that they’ve been listened to, and feel appeased.”

He even went further, and organized extra-curricular activities for students and gave them a chance to learn to solve conflict through role plays.