Following research indicating that young people in Kyrgyzstan face a wide range of challenges, in 2010 UNICEF began a youth programme that focusses on bettering the lives of young people through the establishment of youth centres, vocational training initiatives, community grants and other measures. A total of 21 youth centres are now in operation in the south and north of the country. The youth centres are intended to provide spaces for young people of different backgrounds, and particularly the most deprived and marginalised, including minority ethnic groups, to interact and acquire useful skills for their personal lives and their communities.
A particular feature of the youth programme has been the development of youth theatres as a medium for communicating sensitive issues. Young people have also been supported to conduct small-scale social research in their own areas to inform strategy.
UNICEF is also collaborating closely with the Ministry of Youth, Labour and Employment to promote an engaging and conciliatory youth policy that meets the needs of all young people. The youth centre users and other other youth groups are participating in this process, and advocating for the needs of the vulnerable. The Ministry is now developing a framework to integrate youth councils into local government to act as consultative bodies on youth issues.