The Constitution of our country defines Kazakhstan as a democratic, secular, legal and social state. From the first days of independence the country’s leadership has paid great attention to social support. The realisation of this high and noble purpose has been the key priority of the state’s long-term national development strategies, such as Kazakhstan2030 and Kazakhstan 2050, as well as “Nurly Zhol – The Way to the Future,” the Nov. 11 address by President Nursultan Nazarbayev which set out the new economic policy of the country .
Traditionally, special attention is devoted to social policy as a base in promoting social stability and harmony. In the December 2012 historic state-of-the-nation address , “Strategy Kazakhstan2050, a new political way of the established state,” the President said, “The main criteria for me always was and will be the nation’s quality of life. For the last 15 years the income of the people of Kazakhstan grew by 16 times. The number of people with income below the poverty level decreased by seven times, the number of unemployed has fallen by half. We laid the foundations of socially -oriented society.”
President Nazarbayev also noted that Kazakhstan managed to make significant progress in improving the health of the nation and creating equal opportunities for education. “To improve the efficiency of health care, its organisational, managing and financing systems were reformed. Over the past five years, maternal mortality has decreased by almost three times and the birth rate increased 1.5 times. Equal opportunities for education are being created. Over the past 15 years, spending on education grew 9.5 times. The state education programme aimed at a radical modernisation of all levels of education, from pre-school to higher education, is being realised. Due to our policy of long-term investments in human development, we formed the current generation of talented young people,” the President said.
The social policy of our country coexists in harmony with the objectives of the international community in solving the social problems of all humanity. In 2000, Kazakhstan was among 189 countries in the world that signed the United Nations Millennium Declaration and committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
The Millennium Declaration calls on countries to establish a new global partnership in order to reduce the poverty level and defines the basic values and principles of development assistance.
On the basis of common key objectives, eight MDGs to be achieved by 2015 were formulated. They are:
- To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- To achieve universal primary education
- To promote gender equality and empower women
- To reduce child mortality
- To improve maternal health
- To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- To ensure environmental sustainability
- To develop a global partnership for development
Overall, the MDGs are divided into 21 quantifiable goals, the achievement of which is measured in 60 indicators.
Since 2000, Kazakhstan has issued four reports on the implementation of the MDGs. The first report was published in 2002 and became the first such kind of report in the region of Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In 2005, the second report was published on the MDGs, which presented an analysis and evaluation of achievements at both national and regional levels. In 2007 and 2010 respectively, the third and fourth reports on the MDGs were published.
By the middle of the last decade, Kazakhstan had already achieved some initial goals of development, such as poverty reduction, access to primary education and promotion of women’s rights. In this context in 2007, the government of Kazakhstan committed itself to the agenda MDG Plus, which contains additional targets based on the analysis of national priorities, statistics and programmes, as well as the experience of other countries.
Today, Kazakhstan can speak about the implementation of goals one-five.
In particular, regarding goal one (to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger), the proportion of people living below the subsistence minimum was reduced by half. In 2007, both tasks of goal one were adapted to the national situation and are now formulated as follows: to reduce the number of people living in rural areas with an income below the subsistence minimum by half and halve the proportion of people with no access to balanced nutrition.
In its original formulation, to ensure the possibility for children, both boys and girls, to fully receive primary school education by 2015, goal two has been reached in Kazakhstan. The conclusion was based on the analysis of national policy priorities, statistical data, implementation of state programmes and taking into account the experience of other countries with emphasis on the quality of education and enrollment of children with special needs from disadvantaged groups.
Promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women is one of the core aspects of the national social policy. Due to this, Kazakhstan fulfilled goal three on abolition of the gender gap in primary and secondary education by 2005 and at all levels of education by 2015.
Nevertheless, the differences in positions of women and men in Kazakhstan still persist. Therefore the new challenges of goal 4+, adopted in 2007, include such priorities as the adoption and implementation of measures to increase the representation of women in state bodies, providing legislative and executive measures to prevent and eliminate violence against women, sustainable implementation of gender approaches in national planning and budgeting process.
As to goal four (to reduce child mortality), Kazakhstan has made significant progress and achieved a two-thirds reduction in the deaths among children under age 5. In July 2013, the UN interagency team of experts conducted an independent examination, by the results of which Kazakhstan was positively assessed by the systematic measures carried out in the field of maternal and child health.
Progress was also attained in achieving goal five (to improve maternal health), as the maternal mortality rate fell from 55 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 12.6 in 2013. Thus, the maternal mortality rate was reduced by three-quarters, i.e. the target level of 14 deaths per 100,000 live births was reached.
Achieving the target of universal access to reproductive health by 2015 of MDG 5 will depend on how successfully the structural reforms in health and education systems pass and how effective the management and financing of programmes directed at the reduction maternal mortality will be.
Among the imperatives of the current moment, continued active work on MDG 6 should be allocated to combat HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Today, the reported number of cumulative HIV cases amounts to 21,602. Wherein, it is aimed to retain the disease in its concentrated stage, i.e. below the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended level 0.2 percent [in Kazakhstan, 0.16 percent.]
With regard to tuberculosis, the effective implementation of a package of measures helped to stabilise the epidemiological situation of tuberculosis in the country. The indicator of incidences of tuberculosis amounted to 67.1 per 100,000 people in 2014 (the target level to be achieved in 2015 is 58).
Relevant questions of environmental sustainability remain in MDG 7: application of the ecosystem approach in the design and implementation of economic and social programmes and adherence of the principles of integrated and sustainable management of the environment in Kazakhstan.
Nevertheless, Kazakhstan managed to improve the performance of a number of positions designated under this goal. Specific measures to improve the legal and regulatory framework, optimisation of the governance structure and management processes in the field of biodiversity conservation and active participation in international projects allow us to predict the achievement of the designated objective as long as positive dynamics of indicators are maintained.
In general, Kazakhstan has made significant progress in implementing the stated commitments to move towards sustainable development. At this stage, localisation of challenges and expansion of the list of environmental -sustainability indicators were held. This improves the objective assessment of the changes, as well as gives the possibility to optimise the combination of economic growth with environmental sustainability.
With regard to MDG 8 (to develop a global partnership for development), Kazakhstan continues to develop cooperation and partnerships at the international level (including trade, donor and financial institutions) and within the private sector and civil society of the country. For many years, our country has provided various types of development assistance to Central Asian countries and Afghanistan. Therefore, the need appeared of establishing the institute of development assistance, which would systematise the activities of Kazakhstan in this direction. On Dec. 10, President Nazarbayev signed the law on official development assistance. Thus, in 2015 the official institution of Kazakhstan’s official development assistance (ODA) to foreign partners, especially neighbouring countries, will be created. This will be the first organisation of such kind in the CIS.
In a recent interview, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson spoke about the tremendous progress in the development of our country. “We are closely watching after the processes in this part of the world. We are very impressed with the development directions of Kazakhstan that were defined in the President’s address ‘The way to the future.’ The content of this document is important for your country, but it also relates to the international efforts being made today in order to determine the future for the world. Lately, the UN Secretary-General submitted to the General Assembly the report on the agenda of the MDGs after 2015. So most of the aspects of future policy reflected in it match with the targets that were established before your country in the address. Thus, your efforts at the national level are part of international policy, hopefully leading to peace, prosperity, respect for human rights and the rule of law,” he said.
Kazakhstan is an active member of various international organisations, regional and international treaties and agreements. International partnerships concluded by Kazakhstan fully support and promote the countries’ development goals. At this stage, the most active ties remain in the spheres of trade, investment, finance, information technology and communications, as well as regional and international cooperation.
Thus, we can say that a key factor of successful achievement of the MDGs in Kazakhstan turns out to be consistent implementation of the development programmes Kazakhstan2030 and Kazakhstan2050.
The author is deputy foreign minister of Kazakhstan.