Friendly Neighborhoods

From May 2018 to August 2019, the Foundation implemented a project to strengthen peace and reduce social tension in 10 new settlements in Bishkek. Within the project the Foundation helped to increase the state and municipal administrations efficiency by improving the quality and accessibility of social services for residents in new settlements. The project also enhanced female leadership and the capacity of women and girls to effectively participate in decision-making processes that contribute to the comprehensive development of the area neighborhoods. The project was part of a joint project in collaboration with the Bishkek City Administration and three UN agencies - UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), UNICEF (UN Children's Fund) and UNODC (UN Office on Drugs and Crime). The project is funded by the UN Peacebuilding Fund. The project covers 10 pilot new settlements in Bishkek. Target groups: • Youth Leaders (YL). Selection criteria: age (18-30 years); participation f/m; recognition from community members; wish to participate in the project • Local self-governing bodies – local territorial administrations, quarterly committees. Partnership with city district administration, and Bishkek City Parliament • Public Health Committees •Groups of family doctors The Foundation carried out its activities in the following areas: 1. Promotion of youth leadership The goal is to expand opportunities and increase the civic activity of youth to promote the values of peace and harmony in the community, and reduce social tension in 10 pilot new settlements communities. At the initial stage, groups of active girls and boys were trained in leadership and volunteer initiatives and mobilized in each 10 new settlements. Trained youth groups led by female leaders took responsibility for volunteering in their neighborhoods in order to promote ideas of equality and social justice as important conditions for building peace and harmony. Peacebuilding was promoted through the implementation of sport initiatives. One important task for leaders was to attract youth from the most vulnerable families of the community. Girls and boys, who had never participated in the community’s public life before, had the opportunity to express their opinions about the highest priority problems in their communities and how they could be addressed. The youth groups identified several priorities through discussion, developed a youth program, and prepared project proposals to participate in a grant competition organized by the Project. As a result, 10 youth initiatives in pilot new settlements were financed for a total of 4 million 834 thousand 801 som. The following accomplishments are the examples of youth initiatives: building playgrounds, sports grounds, workout areas; repairing sport arenas, and purchasing new sports equipment, purchasing a mobile stage, music equipment, computers, a screen and office equipment. A sports contest under the general logo “Friendly Neighborhoods” took place in April and May, where 970 residents from the pilot new settlements participated. Teams consisting of 398 people (133 girls and women, 265 men and boys) took part in a series of qualifying and final matches in volleyball, football, passed physical fitness tests and played the traditional tug of war game called Arkan Tartysh. Youth leaders were responsible for mobilizing residents to actively participate in the games as well as the in the opening and closing ceremonies. Also, through brainstorming, they formulated slogans and chants, which called for peace, harmony, and unity in the new settlements. These slogans were used during the games. In general, the sports games promoted solidarity and unity among residents. These events served as a platform for youth leaders to gain recognition from local community residents, who supported the initiative and actively participated in the sports contests. The ideas of equality and non-violence were promoted in every event during the contest; and in a spirit of unity, the slogans of peace, harmony, and equality had a special impact. For example, during contentious moments of the games, team members reminded each other that they should be acting in peace and harmony and therefore, respecting the purpose of the games, they must resolve disputes peacefully. These sports events became a good motivation activity for girls to raise awareness of opportunities through participation of role models, such as Aizhan Syezdbekova, a girl, three-time chess champion of Asia and Kyrgyzstan. The “Friendly Neighborhood” sports contest, as noted by employees of the Bishkek Physical Culture and Sports Department, was an initiative that was carried out for the first time. Its innovation was seen in the fact that new settlement residents took active part in sports events. Usually, sports contests involve only school children and students, and organized through educational institutions. The mobilization of new settlements residents for sports events was accomplished for the first time. The Bishkek Physical Culture and Sports Department plans to hold similar sports activities as an annual event titled the “Friendly Neighborhood League”. Approximately 750 youth, school children and parents from 8 new settlements took part in the workshops held in 5 different new settlements. In Kalys Ordo, 212 people (48 parents and 164 school children) participated in a meeting with chess champions. Ayzhan Syezdbekova had a simultaneous game session with 14 school boys and girls and 1 children's writer Aman Karymshakov. The eight-year-old Asian champion had a powerful influence on all participants, motivating young people to be proactive in life. A judo wrestling workshop also took place during the event. New chess clubs, with two Kyrgyz chess champions as instructors were opened in two schools (No.86 and No.85) within the pilot residential areas. A meeting with donor organizations took place on August 6, 2019. In total, 85 participants, including 26 representatives of donor and international organizations took part in the meeting. The event was also attended by members of the Bishkek City Parliament and representatives of the Bishkek City Administration. This meeting served as a communication platform between youth groups from new settlements, community health committees and international donor organizations, to form a subsequent partnership and achieve project sustainability. It was expected that self-determined projects and the ability to search for different sources of funding would allow the pilot communities to diversify sources of funding in order to address their priority issues. Youth leaders had the opportunity to present their project ideas during the meeting. Donor and international organizations made presentation feedback, recommendations and proposals for project ideas from the 10 new settlements. During the meeting, beneficiaries and international donors showed their mutual interest in cooperation and discussed possible project proposals from youth leaders. Presentations on project ideas from the 10 new settlements became a subject of further cooperation. Donors noted that well made presentations helped them to better understand the situation in the new settlements in Bishkek, to become acquainted with and learn more about the capacity of community initiative groups, youth leaders and community health committees. In turn, local residents learned about the capacities of donor organizations; their work format and the principles of assistance; partnerships; project proposal requirements and more. Open communication sessions provided an opportunity for residents to meet donors and negotiate bilateral partnership agreements. For example, representatives from the Ruhiy Muras new settlement noted about first positive results came from these bilateral partnerships and their plans to prepare projects with detailed descriptions of their ideas. The developed map of international agencies and donor organizations can serve as a reference for further fundraising initiatives. Coaching sessions on making a brief project presentations, provided an opportunity to prepare project proposals according to the mission and mandates of international organizations. This project has provided an opportunity for young leaders to strengthen their skills in project drafting and further dialogue with potential donors. The approach has reduced the risk of dependency on current projects and has allowed young leaders to find solutions and financing sources for their future initiatives. Youth leaders have learnt that their initiatives can bring results, if they are persistent and consistent in their activities. Project support for these initiatives helped solve social issues and showed the importance of youth leaders' activity and initiative. The presentation and defense of these projects to the commission (September 2018) and to the donor community (August 2019) were important and educational for the youth leaders who were given the opportunity to practice presentation and argument skills. Youth leaders gained skills to conduct a joint discussion and identify priority directions. These skills helped them to turn their ideas into a “Youth Program”, a document that set out their priorities, goals, expected results, and the short and long term actions. Youth leaders used the Program to prioritize advocacy and develop a project for presentation to donors. Thus, they saw the importance of having a youth program. Furthermore, the fact that their efforts to hold meetings and set priorities were useful had been clearly reflected in the Youth Program documentation. This had an important educational influence. Youth leaders learned that in the strategic planning process, each stage is very important and influential in order to gain a systematic and effective solution to problems. Meetings held between youth leaders and local self-governing bodies were important to demonstrate that youth leaders can initiate such dialogue and conduct it qualitatively, providing strategic vision and documentation. Youth groups were represented by 106 members (46 girls and 60 guys). Local residents and local government representatives (municipal territorial administration employees) recognized the leadership of the youth leaders: They understood the importance and usefulness of initiative support and proactive position of community residents for the development of new settlements: • 3 leaders participate on the Advisory Council of the Bishkek City Administration: 1 leader – Chairman of the Youth Committee, 1 leader - Secretary of the Council and 1 leader - member of the council; • 3 leaders were elected as chairpersons for Municipal territorial administration youth committees; • 5 leaders have established contact with district administrations and are independently consulting with them on various issues; • 2 leaders participated in the meeting with the Jogorku Kenesh’s youth wing and begun collaborating with them. 2. Cooperation with local authorities The Foundation continues to work closely with local self-governing bodies, representatives from 4 district administrations in Bishkek, and representatives from the six municipal-territorial administrations, where the 10 pilot new settlements are situated. The cooperation is aimed at increasing the capacity of LSG staff to provide services to residents, taking into account priority issues related to equality and justice, the reduction of social tension, and the prevention of conflict in communities. Working together with local self-governing bodies contributed to strengthening their responsibility to ensure a favorable environment for the implementation of community initiatives, such as assisting in the process of data collecting, identifying priority areas for the development of the neighborhood, drafting project proposals by youth initiative groups and women leaders. The LSGs will also provide platforms for dialogue between community leaders and relevant state and municipal bodies to include priority issues, which have been identified by communities, in development plans. Increased confidence in MTA and quarterly by residents contributed to increased interaction and cooperation between the local population and the local self-governing bodies. All sports grounds and playgrounds built within the project were transferred to the MTA authority, which means that operational maintenance of these facilities will be carried out by the MTA in close cooperation with the youth leaders who initiated these projects. Project outcome: • At least 40 LSG employees have improved their knowledge and skills in gender equality and conflict-sensitive planning. They have also participated in the plans preparation and development. • LSGs contribute actively to the implementation of community initiatives (sports initiatives, community initiatives and equipment purchase for group of family doctors). • Community interaction mechanisms have been created and works effectively (local self-governing bodies invite youth and women leaders to participate in their meetings). 3. Activities to promote a healthy lifestyle and improve the health system Community Health Committees (CHC), created in 2013, ensure interaction between local residents, local self-governing bodies, and health institutions to promote health and a healthy lifestyle. The Foundation will seek to improve this mechanism, in particular, to increase the activity of residents (from pilot communities) by promoting voluntary membership in CHC and healthy lifestyle in their communities. Such action and the involvement of residents in the activities of the CHC is the main condition for CHC effectiveness and sustainability. The foundation also provided assistance to the Republican Center for Health Promotion (RCHC) during the process of institutionalizing a system of health protection and the development of regulations and instructions of health care. Another important method to promote a healthy lifestyle is to work with health care facilities. Residents of the ten pilot communities receive health services in six Family Health Centers (FHC) and nine Groups of Family Doctors (GFD), located in these communities. The Foundation contributed to the improvement of service quality provided by GFD. Issues regarding openness, accessibility and polite treatment between health care personnel and residents also improved. Within the project framework the Foundation purchased equipment for GFDs, in accordance with the list of priority needs jointly identified together by FHC, GFD, the Ministry of Health and district administrations health departments. In total,.2 million 401 thousand 350 som Project outcome: • At least 60 CHC members have increased their community influence and are actively disseminate information on healthy lifestyle. • CHC activities were improved through the development of documentation on CHC work, including provisions and instructions. • At least 40 healthcare workers improved their skills in providing quality service to citizens living in the new settlements. • GFD services improved with the purchase of new equipment.

Project goals:

Promoting social and gender equality for strengthening peace and stability in 10 pilot new settlements in Bishkek

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