Evaluation of the social protection system for children and their families in Kazakhstan 2015-2020

A young patient (Medina, 8 months old) is being examined by paediatrician Aliya Kartabayeva. Bozkol, Kazakhstan.
UNICEF/2022/ KairatShaltakbayev


In 2018, the Government of Kazakhstan, more specifically the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, embarked on a reform process of its social assistance system for children and families. To further improve coverage, adequacy, and targeting effectiveness of its poverty-targeted transfers, the flagship povertytargeted social assistance programme (TSA) has since undergone multiple amendments and reforms. With a vision of ensuring that more resources go to those who need them most and increasing the coordination and integration between cash assistance and social services, three main benefits for vulnerable and poor families – the special state allowance, state child assistance, and TSA – were integrated into the TSA through the reform.

A UNICEF-led assessment of the proposed reform highlighted a heightened risk for exclusion of many low-income and poor children from the reformed cash transfer schemes. By end of 2018, the number of children among beneficiaries of social assistance programmes had drastically dropped, suggesting that the reformed TSA failed to take up existing beneficiaries as planned. More generally, the effectiveness of social assistance for children and their families remains a concern with several studies highlighting administrative and policy bottlenecks that restrict access to social assistance.

The purpose of the evaluation was to assess the degree to which family- and child-focused cash transfer policies and programmes contribute to child and family well-being in Kazakhstan and to examine in how far transfers reduce barriers to access of basic social services and bottlenecks preventing the full realization of children’s rights. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the evaluation also explored in how far cash transfers helped families with children manage some of the socio-economic effects of the crisis.