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Digital technologies for civic empowerment in Kyrgyzstan (DT4CE)

Photo: Alexander Suhorucov/Pexels

In Kyrgyzstan, attempts of democratisation have translated into populist promises rather than the improved delivery of public goods and services. Political and administrative corruption continues to exclude citizens, particularly vulnerable groups of youth and women, from public decisions that affect their lives. Opportunities for civil society organisations (CSOs) and citizens to oversee and participate in decision-making are scarce and lack genuine engagement mechanisms. People generally avoid interaction with the state for various reasons including a lack of trust in the public sector, limited awareness of their individual rights and the process by which services and benefits are provided. Public sector reforms are long overdue and the decline in democratic processes exacerbates the situation. The political revolutions in 2005, 2010 and 2020 were only the most visible consequences.

Women and youth, especially in rural areas, have limited opportunities to acquire knowledge and express their opinions. However, new opportunities for training and inclusive decision-making are emerging with the ongoing development of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and an expanding internet penetration rate across the country. Women and youth from all over Kyrgyzstan may have the opportunity to gain knowledge and participate in the activities of the state, both at local and national levels.

What's at stake?

While Kyrgyzstan used to be a democratic outlier among its neighbours, in recent times, the country has slid towards autocracy. The state is attempting to transfer public services to an electronic format – a portal of state electronic services and another for public procurement is currently operating. Societal demand for open data is constantly increasing. The country joined the Open Government Partnership initiative, under which it pledged to promote and implement an open data policy. This has given rise to an urgent need to engage CSOs, especially the youth, in the state digitalisation process to meet the needs of society.

What we're doing about it

Funded by the European Union (EU) and in partnership with Transparency International Secretariat and Transparency International Kyrgyzstan, the project aims to increase the potential of local CSOs in Kyrgyzstan to contribute towards addressing critical governance issues that continue to affect the development of the country. This is especially necessary as it relates to the lack of confidence of the population in state institutions, low involvement in public administration, lack of good governance and low capacity for compliance with transparent and accountable practices by authorities.

The project’s key objectives are:

1) To improve existing digital tools and build new ones that are accessible, direct and interactive with the goal of empowering citizens to hold duty bearers to account and claim their legitimate interests.

2) To strengthen the capacity of CSOs and youth to use digital technology to advance public policy.

Our approach

Youth engagement

We actively work to include youth in the development of the anti-corruption tools. Such engagement will be concretised through the organisation of different hackathons with universities for the purpose of encouraging young people to conceptualise and shape the platforms to develop for the public.

Training and knowledge sharing

We promote local and regional knowledge sharing on the different issues under the action’s topics amongst citizens, activists and local experts who will access the platforms. The training will promote capacity building and skill development among CSOs and citizen groups. Depending on the target groups’ access and location, they will take place both in-person and online.

Monitoring process

We monitor public procurement and infrastructure projects happening in different regions in Kyrgyzstan. Additionally, the action equips the public and CSOs with the tools to monitor, follow-up and render duty bearers accountable.

Gender mainstreaming

The project’s activities provide a particular focus on the needs of women and other
groups who experience discrimination. It ensures that they equally benefit from the designed activities and that the action’s operations do not have unintended consequences on their lives.