October 2007, Social Policy Making Is Every Everybody’s Business: Let’s Learn
“Please recollect the time when your first child was born. What would you think of: perhaps you wanted your baby to be successful in life and your strong support in your elderly years. What should be taken care of: nutrition, proper education...” begins a trainer and the audience is startled first being preoccupied with a complicated title of the workshop: Participatory development and implementation of child and family-related local policies. An exiting small discussion of the homeliness... and the trainees feel comfortable with new terms and methods. With highly professional trainers who know the local context and mentality, mechanisms and instruments of international methodology for participatory social policy development get clear and obvious.
On 23-26 October 2007 more than 50 representatives of local government, heads of villages, representatives of local councils (keneshes), self-governance (aiyl okmotu) and local society leaders in Issyk-Atinski Rayon (Chui Oblast) gathered to learn how to better develop and implement social policy at local level and discuss ways of extending stakeholders’ participation of this process. Head of Rayon Administration B. Kenenbaev together with UNICEF Representative T. Schaffter opened the training.
As decentralization process takes its way, local authorities and the society can do much more to improve their lives. With that grows a share of responsibility and a need to learn more. UNICEF is supporting series of trainings in Chui, Naryn and Batken oblasts. It was possible thanks to the close partnership of UNICEF with the Academy of Management under the President of the KR, the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, the National Agency on Local Self Governance and representatives of the civil society.
The training learned how to do community needs assessment, strategic prioritization of community problems and resources, strategic management, budgeting and partnership with other stakeholders. It makes them go beyond accepted patterns and models. They acknowledge that social issues often were limited to solving infrastructure problems – repairing roofs of school or fix heating system in the hospital. It did not go further to tackle needs of children and families and especially those who are most vulnerable, to provide them with timely support and to prevent despair that pushes adults to alcohol abuse, leaves children in the streets or institutions and locks a vicious poverty circle in the society.
The on-going developments at the local levels lay down on the off-the-shelf ground of changes at the central level. Last few years have been marked by several initiatives to reform social protection system. Regulatory framework is being revised by the Ministry of Labour and Social Development aiming at improvement of targeting and administration of the social assistance benefits. Ground work has been initiated to develop social services for vulnerable and poor families and children, and corresponding standards. Children’s Code was adopted by the Parliament and approved by the President in 2006. The Children’s Code introduces a child protection system to support needy families and minimize institutionalisation, carry out prevention and investigation of abuse and neglect in accordance with current notions of good practice.
The training is the beginning of a process aiming at strengthening the capacity of local governments to develop policies which are responsive to local needs and problems and to local communities a representative governing structures that work for the general interest of the members and are accountable to their constituencies.