Kyrgyzstan is a small central Asian republic, similar in size to NZ. It is also a mountainous country and very dependant on livestock. Many of the rural communities in Kyrgyzstan live in real poverty, particularly in Naryn Oblast, a region to the south east. Household income is extremely low, food is in short supply, and the winters are long and cold.
A group of Lincoln University Old Boys volunteered to return to Naryn Oblast and continue the work they started in 2005 for a NZAID funded development programme. They formed the Kyrgyz-NZ Rural Trust (KNZRT) which now consists of 7 trustees, 5 of whom are New Zealanders, and two who are Kyrgyzstan citizens. All the team is passionate about trying to keep the project growing, and to build on their success and their volunteering will sure make a world of difference to the folks at Naryn. They have demonstrated they can teach Kyrgyz farmers how to improve livestock production, control diseases such as brucellosis and hydatids, and add value to existing products, thereby increasing family incomes. They also have shown groups of rural women how to generate income by establishing sewing and spinning groups. This knowledge creates employment opportunities and motivates communities to work together breaking the poverty cycle. In addition to the direct aid assistance, Morgan Foundation and the KNZRT have been instrumental in establishing a microfinance facility via the Aiyl Bank to help farmers buy seeds and animal feed and pay for fuel and land cultivation services. This rolling facility commenced in 2010 and we’re funding tranches to it annually, monitoring its repayment performance. The Kyrgyzstan New Zealand Rural Trust website link is here.