ASTANA – The Czech Republic is a relatively young actor in the community of nations rendering development assistance beyond its borders. It has already accumulated more than two decades of work in this field, however, and can therefore be of interest as a potential role model in Kazakhstan’s attempt to launch a national operator of official development assistance (ODA) under the brand KazAID.
Therefore, Czech Development Agency Deputy Director Martin Naprstek was invited to share his country’s experience in the field with Kazakh government officials under the joint training programme run by the United Nations Development Programme and Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry.
The Czech ODA system underwent a significant transformation from 2008-2012, which progressively transferred bilateral development activities and projects to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) that were previously managed by nine different ministries. As a result,development cooperation has become an important component of Czech foreign policy. The country supports implementing development projects, offers scholarships enabling students to enrol at Czech universities and provides humanitarian aid, as well as a number of related activities. At the same time, it actively participates in international organisations that deal with issues of developing countries.
“The Astana Times” used Naprstek’s visit to Astana to ask questions about the Czech ODA programme and his opinion about the prospects of KazAID.
On what kinds of projects does the Czech ODA focus?
The principles of Czech development cooperation are based on some important and internationally-recognised documents – mainly on the European Consensus on Development (2005), the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005), the Accra Agenda for Action (2008) and the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (2011).
According to the Development Cooperation Strategy of the Czech Republic (2010–2017), our bilateral projects are focused mainly on eradication of poverty, economic and social development, environmental protection and promotion of democracy, human rights and good governance in developing countries.
Our sectorial priorities are based on the Czech Republic’s comparative advantages and currently we are primarily active in environment, agriculture, education, social and health services and economic development.
In 2014, the Czech Development Agency implemented more than 120 projects in 14 countries in cooperation with Czech private companies, NGOs, universities and other partners.
Afghanistan has been included among priority programme countries for development cooperation in the strategy of the Czech Development Cooperation for 2010-2017.What are the priority sectors of Czech development cooperation in Afghanistan?
The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has long been among the foreign policy priorities of the Czech Republic and, as such, has also been included among priority programme countries for development cooperation. The Czech Republic’s development cooperation there is currently focused mainly on agriculture (which provides a livelihood to about 80 percent of the Afghan population) – particularly through support for small farms and the introduction of modern farming methods. We are also active in agricultural education – including teacher training, the creation of school curricula and the cooperation of academic and state institutions. However, the implementation of standard development assistance in Afghanistan would require improvements in the security situation in the future.
As you know, Kazakhstan is planning to establish its own ODA programme to implement development projects in Central Asia and the wider region and establishing KazAID would help build a more stable and secure environment. What prospects do you see for the KazAID programme?
As [being run by] an important actor in the region of Central Asia, KazAID should be using its good knowledge of local and regional issues and problems and also experiences from the recent development and economic success of Kazakhstan. On a larger scale – and as a member of the international donor community – the Republic of Kazakhstan should actively take part in efforts aimed mainly at eradication of poverty and social and economic development in developing countries all over the world.