Eurasia Foundation opened a representative office in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 1999, although has had active programs throughout the country since 1994.
In 2003, Eurasia Foundation, together with Amanat, a local NGO, piloted the Foster Care Initiative in Almaty. This project was designed to provide support services to foster families and facilitate making foster care an alternative option for orphans through public awareness campaigns.
In 2004, Eurasia Foundation and Exxon Mobil Kazakhstan Inc. launched a program aimed at strengthening local communities in Kazakhstan by developing the country’s ecotourism industry. In 2007, ABN AMRO Foundation of the Netherlands joined the initiative.
Partnering with the Eurasian National University (ENU) and the University of New Mexico, EFCA established a Master’s of Science program in Environmental Management and Engineering (MSEME) in 2004. Funded with contributions from USAID, AES and two Kazakhstan ministries, the program built a highly sophisticated laboratory that is producing a cadre of highly qualified practitioners to ameliorate environmental problems.
As part of its strategy to establish partner foundations throughout the region, the Foundation set up Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia (EFCA) as an independent organization in 2005 with offices in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. EFCA’s office in Almaty became the seat of the president in 2006.
EFCA’s most active programs in Kazakhstan include:
- Independent Anti-Corruption Council, which promotes good governance by enabling both citizens and the business community to better engage with the government on corruption and governance issues. The council consists of representatives from 25 local NGOs and businesses, with EFCA acting as secretariat, and is funded by the Finnish government.
- Equal Before the Law (EBL) is an ambitious multi-year, multi-country program to improve access to justice for vulnerable people in Central Asia. EBL provides pro bono legal services, works to improve the curricula of Central Asia’s law schools and has established networks of likeminded organizations to maximize the program’s impact. EBL’s 32 lawyers provide consultations to vulnerable people across southern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. With assistance from EBL, 15 professors are developing new course materials that include access to justice for vulnerable persons for the leading law schools of Central Asia. EBL has also established a network of more than 150 civil society organizations that provide legal assistance to vulnerable groups. To date, the program has provided more than 5,000 legal consultations, primarily to women.
- Civil Participation in Social Development Program, which assists the development of the civil sector, improves healthcare services and improves education standards through training sessions for teachers of Information Technology (IT), distance learning courses and the promotion of interactive teaching methods in schools and colleges in the Atyrau and Kulsary regions.
- Youth Development in Shulbinsk, which improves the lives and well-being of children in the Regional Orphanage in Shulbinsk and Shulbinsk’s youth overall by improving the communication and leadership skills of orphans and their mentors, increasing employment opportunities and facilitating enrollment of graduates of institutional care in post-secondary education programs.
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program, which provides instruction to journalists and key ministries about CSR and increases the tools and incentives for journalists to improve CSR coverage in Kazakhstani mass media. In 2005, EFCA and the American Chamber of Commerce founded the CSR Working Group as a venue to promote CSR in the business community.
- As a result of EFCA’s development of the Foster Care Initiative, foster care is now more common in Kazakhstan and has greater media coverage. Because of its success, the project has been replicated in five regions of Kazakhstan: Uralsk, Pavlodar, Shyment, Kostanai, and Astana. 500 children have been placed in foster families throughout the country as a result of this innovative initiative.
- EFCA’s Development of Ecotourism in Kazakhstan Program has developed six eco-sites in the Akmola Oblast: Korgalzhyn, Ayirtau, Imantau, Sandyktau, Zerenda, and Korgalzhyn. Since 2007, the eco-sites have delivered more than 1,200 “tourist days” with guesthouse accommodations and local excursions.
- The Civil Participation in Social Development Program founded the Association for Teachers, a resource center for pedagogues that promotes IT and interactive teaching methods, resulting in improved education standards.