Today, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund and the Embassy of Japan in Uzbekistan announced the results of the UNDP-UNFPA Joint Programme on “Building the Resilience of Local Communities Against Health, Environmental and Economic Insecurities Caused by Environmental Destruction in the Aral Sea Region”, funded by the Government of Japan during the final board meeting.
In her welcoming speech to the participants of the event, Matilda Dimovska, UNDP Resident Representative in Uzbekistan, emphasized that the Joint Programme has brought tangible results to benefit and address the different human insecurities of the local population of the Aral Sea region.
Operating since 2020, the Joint Programme was aimed at achieving two key goals. The first is to improve the quality of medical services by strengthening the technical and institutional capacity of the local health system in terms of providing maternal, child and reproductive health services. The second is to expand income-generating opportunities for the population through inclusive entrepreneurial initiatives, job creation, and increased access to basic infrastructure.
Thus, over 20,000 rural residents gained access to basic infrastructure - drinking water, electricity, improved health facilities and education services:
• Electric transformers were installed in seven communities of Chimbay, Bozatau and Karauzyak districts with a population of 2500 (44% women), local residents got access to uninterrupted power supply;
• The building of elementary school No. 7 was reconstructed in the “Erkindarya” community, Bozatau district, where more than 300 students receive education.
• The building of a rural medical center in the “Aspantai” community, Bozatau district was repaired, thus 1975 people (991 women) improved access to medical services.
• In the above three districts, 39,190 m of water lines were laid, water desalination stations were completely reconstructed, and an automated water purification system was installed.
More than 500 healthcare professionals have been trained in human papillomavirus (HPV) testing for early cervical cancer detection and treatment. Eight laboratories are equipped with HPV diagnostic kits in Chimbay, Kanlikul, Kungrad and Nukus districts. 49,140 women were tested - 1009 (30%) out of more than 3000 HPV positives were referred to oncology for further diagnosis and treatment, 10% were treated in polyclinics at the place of residence and 4% received treatment and are observed by an onco-gynecologist.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been developed to provide prompt and quality assistance to women and girls - victims of harassment and violence. SOPs are accompanied by brief practical instructions for service providers, including prevention/district inspectors, general practitioners and patronage nurses, social workers, mahalla specialists, shelter psychologists, and adaptation and rehabilitation centers for victims of gender-based violence. Approximately 300 representatives of key service providers received practical skills in using SOPs in responding to gender-based violence, as well as in the concept of a mechanism for a multisectoral response to violence.
A system of indicators on gender-based violence and recommendations for a complete package for a statistical database on Standard Operating procedures for interdepartmental response to gender-based violence for law enforcement agencies, the health system and the psychosocial sector have been developed.
In addition, as part of its activities in Karakalpakstan, since 2005, in partnership with the UNV and the Ministry of Health of Karakalpakstan, UNDP has trained over 2080 community health volunteers. From 2020 volunteers have held 133,164 information sessions on the prevention of pulmonary, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular diseases, mother and child health issues. At the same time, 54,770 sessions were devoted to the prevention of COVID-19. Medical supplies and special equipment for working with patients were purchased and transferred to the Ministry of Health to protect medical workers and the community volunteers in target districts from the coronavirus infection. 115,000 posters and booklets on the subject were distributed among the rural population in Uzbek, Karakalpak and Russian languages.
Within the second direction of the Joint Programme, a situational analysis of the economic potential of target communities in Karauzyak, Chimbay, Bozatau and Kegeyli districts was carried out. Based on the results of the study, 60 owners and employees of rural enterprises were trained in innovative business management methods. 33 business projects received technical support for implementation, which helped to create 128 (of which 47% for women) jobs and contribute to the food, environmental and economic security of rural residents. In order to increase the potential of the population in the pilot districts, in cooperation with the Uzbek-Japan Center, training sessions on the Japanese method of business development Kaizen were held for more than 30 representatives of SMEs (35% women). About 70 women and youth representatives studied the process of making felt and felt products, produce goods from reeds, straw, and improved their knowledge in the field of doing business. 45 representatives of Bozatau, Kungrad and Chimbay districts improved their entrepreneurial skills during business trainings initiated in cooperation with the Public Union "One Village - One Product +1" within the framework of the JICA OVOP project, where experts from Japan and Kyrgyzstan shared their experience with course participants.
The Joint Programme was implemented by UNDP in partnership with UNFPA under the financial support of the Government of Japan, as well as with the assistance of the Ministry of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, the Ministries of Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Republic of Karakalpakstan, Agriculture, and Communal Services of Karakalpakstan, Khokimiyats of Karauzyak, Chimbay, Bozatau districts, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Karakalpakstan and the Council of Farmers, Dekhkan Farms and Owners of Household plots of Karakalpakstan, the representatives of which also took part in the Programme’s final board meeting.