Expanding horizons for global development partnership

Last December, Kazakhstan celebrated the 30th anniversary of its independence. A country with modest beginnings, Kazakhstan made a significant transition from being a recipient of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the first country in Central Asia to adopt the national law on ODA in 2014.

Given Kazakhstan’s geographic location, its national capacity, as well as the challenges of global development, Kazakhstan has prioritized development assistance to the countries of its immediate neighborhood: Central Asia and Afghanistan.

As a relatively young actor in development, Kazakhstan has been striving to strengthen cooperation and coordination with other donors, both traditional and emerging. Due to this reason, the Kazakhstan Agency for International Development (KazAID) attaches great importance to its cooperation with the Korea International Cooperation Agency -- one of the most prominent development actors on the global arena. Partnership between the development agencies of Kazakhstan and Korea was formalized in November 2021 in Seoul. Since signing a memorandum of understanding, it was elaborated in an Action Plan until 2024, which envisages implementation of joint initiatives and participation in platforms, like the annual International Seoul ODA Conference. This year’s agenda of the conference was dedicated to Global Partnerships, which is undoubtedly an issue of the utmost importance.

Few can deny that the world is facing numerous complex challenges, which require comprehensive global solutions that can be found through drawing from each other’s unique local knowledge, experience and expertise. New donors can learn a lot from the more experienced developed partners, and benefit from triangular cooperation mechanisms, which comprise a great source of additional expertise and funding. At the same time, donors with higher capacity and global presence can benefit from the local expertise, historical ties, and cultural and linguistic understanding smaller regional providers might offer.

In addition, new donors can add additional legitimacy to foreign actors as members of important regional networks and facilitate deep partnerships, especially in the face of sensitive political developments.

It is also important to recognize that asymmetrical relationships remain not only between donors and partner countries, but also between donors themselves. Donor status and perceptions in partner countries play an important role in ensuring aid effectiveness. New donors should therefore pay particular attention to how they interact with their beneficiaries, how responsive they are to local needs and how their activities are perceived by partner countries.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is putting enormous pressure on the world, reversing some of the positive gains of previous years and exacerbating racial, gender, socioeconomic and other inequalities.

The pandemic has once again demonstrated the importance of information and technology and forced international aid agencies to adapt to the new conditions. In this context, Kazakhstan, in close partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the Agency for International Development Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, has implemented a number of online technology development projects to continue its contribution to the Central Asian region and Afghanistan in the face of a major public health crisis.

Furthermore, it is important to bear in mind that while our development efforts aim to have a long-term positive impact, these achievements can be vulnerable to various factors. Thus, KazAID in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development's Competitiveness, Trade and Job Creation Project held an online seminar titled "The Power of Women: Growth Trends in the Post-Pandemic COVID-19 Era." The initiative was aimed at female entrepreneurs from Central Asia and Afghanistan in 2021. Unfortunately, the current situation in Afghanistan has demonstrated how fragile the results of long-term development assistance can be.

I believe it is also reasonable to say that all donors face certain challenges when it comes to their ODA expenditures. However, this is especially true for small bilateral donors, who often have to significantly reduce their ODA contributions. One strategy we have used has been to make ODA projects more specific, which translates into a deeper focus on areas of high interest and fewer participants selected after a rigorous process.

To summarize the above, the world is facing an increasing number of challenges that require closer cooperation between different actors. In this regard, it can be firmly stated that strengthening joint regional action and international cooperation is vital to find solutions to the world's most complex problems.

By Dastan Yeleukenov

Dastan Yeleukenov is the chairman of the executive board of the Kazakhstan Agency for International Development. – Ed.



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