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The experience of ecological organizations in Kazakhstan is limited

Ecological movement in Kazakhstan has been existent for about 13 years. Non-governmental ecological organizations deal with the following problems:

  • Ecological education deals with the majority of organizations, oriented mostly on school and kindergarten teachers and college students. This type of organizations publishes small brochures on environment protection and run educational seminars.
  • Nuclear and technology-related pollution is associated with Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, defense, and space industries.
  • Stable development attracts the public increasingly because it deals with all stages of human need satisfaction and all components of production and service systems.
  • Ecology laws are closely related to all ecological problems and recently have been the subject of main activities of ecological organizations is to explain the people their rights and show how they can change the situations.
  • Utilization of hard domestic waste received the top priority status in National plan of actions on environment protection for stable development of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
  • The society is becoming increasingly concerned with the resource deficit and quality of drinking water.
  • Urban ecology is closely related to the “ecology and health” theme, which gets the focus of non-governmental ecological organizations, including women’s.

Convention on providing the access to information, public participation in decision-making process and justice in environment protection was passed during the Fourth Pan-European conference of environment Ministers (Orhuss, 1998). The above –mentioned convention can be considered as a serious accomplishment for Kazakhstan. According to this document, state bodies have liability to provide information and pay attention to the public opinion in decision-making process; non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have a right to demand a performance of these liabilities.

At the same time, the role of public organizations and their participation in existing programs are weak. This has to do with an inadequate potential of NGOs, their unstable financial and technical base as well as with the fact that state and international organizations are nit ready to have NGOs as equal partners in programs of national, regional and international levels.
It is necessary to achieve the immediate participation of NGOs in decision-making processes through representation in managing and consulting structures, state, and international organizations.
The current fax system is not favorable since it does not provide stimuli for environment protection and development of NGOs. The laws do not have implementation mechanisms for official declarations related to NGOs.

At the same time, certain public organizations show the desire to unite their potential (human, material and financial resources) in order to achieve the common goal.

It is obvious that ecological organizations want to cooperate with each other. On the first forum of non-governmental ecological organizations of the Republic of Kazakhstan in 1997 specific directions in cooperation were outlined. At least such topics as “biodiversity”, “ecological education”, “nuclear and technology-related waste” have united many of the ecological organizations. The first NGO Ecology Forum of the Republic of Kazakhstan indicated the need for the documents that determine the main directions in the development of the ecology movement.

A protocol on cooperation between NGOs and the government was signed in April of 1999 at the meeting of the forum’s working team. At the next Ecology Forum (Almaty, fall 2000) these groups did not just remained but also received new followers, created a long term program of actions, aimed at the accomplishment of the new specific tasks. In addition to that, at the last meeting of the coordination council of the Kazakhstan’ Ecology Forum on February 2001 a common plan of actions was developed.

Participants of the Ecology Forum agreed that they need to develop certain values and stability in order to ensure the future steady and long-term existence of the Forum.

The documents prepared during the meeting support this fact. The agreement between the Second Non-Governmental Organizations Ecology Forum in Kazakhstan participants outlined the goals, objectives, and plan of actions.
Gradually the ecology movement in Kazakhstan realized the importance of itself in the society, need for wide public support, and increase in professionalism. This means that Kazakhstan’s ecology movement is getting its own experience in institutional development.

Non-governmental ecological organizations have a certain organizational structure and common features:

  • main objective
  • plan of actions
  • target groups
  • staff of prepared specialists
  • financial recourses

International organizations were the primary source of financial support for NGOs during the initial development stages. Later the financial support from these organizations decreased so NGOs can develop their activities themselves. Functioning of NGOs in Kazakhstan has shown that some of them exist two or three years and some around ten years. One of the reasons for stability of such of organizations is the demand for products and services they produce. For example, a NGO specializing in educational production and organization of seminars lost part of its activities due to the fact that the society is not ready (neither morally nor materially) for consuming their products or services. In other words, the economic situation in the country directly related to the activities of the NGOs. A poor country cannot afford to support non-governmental organizations that work with economic, social, and ecological problems of the society. One of the reasons for instability of NGOs is a rejection of them by governmental institutions – they are used for formal reasons but not as partners in a specific project.

In addition to external reasons for instability of NGOs, they are also internal ones. These are the most common:

  • lack of feedback from customers
  • inability to work with local authorities
  • unqualified staff
  • inability to provide own means for development
  1. NGO movement in Kazakhstan have undergone a sufficient development are there are results of their activities
  2. NGOs staff are often highly qualified professionals that have certain work experience and necessary education
  3. The society is used to the fact that the government gives part of its functions to NGOs
  4. There is a market for intellectual products produced by NGOs
  5. NGOs themselves have a desire to solve more critical problems
  6. Stable development of NGOs can be achieved to the maximum in political, economic and social situation in the country

Many non-governmental funds took part in establishing NGOs in Kazakhstan. The majority of them supported onetime programs and projects during short periods. However there are donors that decided to support the development of the non-governmental sector in the country for a long period. One of such organizations is the humanitarian institute HIVOS (Netherlands); it supports institutional and organizational development of NGOs. Through a Netherlands based NGO Miliecontact West Europe, for example, it supports the development of the Ecoforum (NGO of the Republic of Kazakhstan).

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