NUR-SULTAN – Last year, Kazakhstan sent $7.5 million in humanitarian aid to other countries, 42.8 percent less compared to 2020, when Kazakhstan provided significant humanitarian aid to countries struggling to fight the spread of coronavirus, according to an analytical article published at Energyprom.kz.
In 2021, the humanitarian aid sent by Kazakhstan was mostly food products worth $5.8 million. There were also clothes and footwear ($663,100), machinery and equipment ($328,800), and medicines ($86,800) in the aid package.
Kazakhstan sent humanitarian aid to five countries – Tajikistan, Afghanistan, India, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan. The largest amount was sent to Tajikistan ($4.3 million), followed by Afghanistan ($1.7 million) to support the country in addressing the looming humanitarian crisis and India ($1.3 million) to assist in curbing the devastating rise in coronavirus cases.
The volume of humanitarian aid received by Kazakhstan decreased by 0.8 percent, reaching $19 million. The largest quantities of humanitarian aid received by Kazakhstan were medicines ($4.4 million), as well as clothing and footwear ($4.3 million).
In January this year, Kazakhstan sent humanitarian aid worth $65,100 to two countries – Tajikistan ($36,400) and Afghanistan ($28,700), including $28,700 for clothing and footwear and $7,900 for food products as part of its program of regular assistance to neighboring countries. In the same month, the country received humanitarian aid worth $3,800.
On March 14 and March 15, Kazakhstan sent two planes with humanitarian aid to Ukraine from the Almaty airport. The total weight of the humanitarian aid amounted to 28,200 tons with 17 different medicines provided, including some of the most essential medicines. On March 28, the third flight with humanitarian aid for Ukrainian citizens departed from Almaty to the Polish city of Katowice carrying 17.5 tons of medicines on board.
Over the past 20 years, Kazakhstan has allocated more than $500 million as part of the official development assistance (ODA) and humanitarian assistance programs. The country has transformed in a short period of time from a recipient of assistance to an international donor partnering with donor countries to help other Central Asian countries and Afghanistan in their development.
According to Bolat Nurgaliyev, chair of the Foreign Policy Research Institute under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, humanitarian assistance has been an important part of the country’s foreign policy.
“Rendering humanitarian aid to other countries was always considered an important goal of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy, proceeding from understanding that our own social and economic development efforts can be more successful if we are surrounded by prosperous neighbors which view our country as a reliable partner in the time of need,” he said in an interview for this story.
While Kazakhstan’s humanitarian assistance volumes might be modest compared to other countries, all such acts demonstrate that Kazakhstan is “sincere in the desire to help, never had any hidden motivation, political or economic.”
“I believe it was always appreciated by the recipients of the Kazakh assistance and was instrumental in boosting our international image of unselfish donor. In other words: when Kazakhstan was providing aid to foreign countries it was because they needed that aid, not because we were somehow hoping that our prestige abroad would be enhanced by this means. If Kazakhstan’s moral authority benefited as a donor of humanitarian aid, that is what’s called unintended consequence,” he explained.
In 2020, Kazakhstan established the KazAID agency as a mechanism for the country’s ODA. According to the law, Kazakhstan’s ODA can work with the region of the Caucasus, Africa, Latin America, small island developing states, least developed countries, landlocked countries, and other regions.
Nurgaliyev went on to say that helping others in need is a tradition that goes back centuries.
“There’s an old Kazakh proverb ‘Nar juk koteredy, el olim koteredy’ which can be roughly translated as “Misfortunes are to be dealt with by community efforts”. I believe that it’s a special feature of nomadic traditions that people are ready to help their neighbors in times of need, without being asked or expecting some gain in return. That was evident when disasters, natural or human-made, happened in the places close to the Kazakh lands,” he said.