The Government of Kazakhstan introduced a financial support framework - a grant mechanism for civil society organizations in the country to provide sustainability toward various innovative projects that have been underway since 2015. However, this mechanism has shortcomings in terms of planning, selecting, and assessing grant applications. The Kazakhstan Rule of Law program (KROL), funded by USAID and implemented by the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), assessed the current state of civil society in the country. The assessment found that there has been an increase in new independent non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their experts appearing on public platforms and partaking in Ministry of Information and Social Development (MISD) discussions. Newly established NGOs are actively seeking funding opportunities from various sources to sustain their operations. However, at the national level, the country lacks a systematic approach to support CSOs in achieving financial sustainability and enhancing their organizational capacity.
ABA ROLI’s assessment revealed gaps in the existing mechanisms for public discussion about state grants, such as the issue of funding allocations for grants lots, decisions are formed without proper justification or consideration of existing standards for the provision of services to NGOs. Many NGOs prefer not to implement projects, realizing they will not be able to provide the required quality of services with the provided Terms of Reference and allocated funds.
To address and learn good practices in developing an enhanced legal environment for the CSOs, KROL, in cooperation with the Committee on Civil Society Affairs of the Ministry of Information and Social Development, organized a change workshop in Croatia devoted to the topic: “Legal and Institutional Mechanisms for CSO/Government interaction in Croatia.” The workshop was held from April 2 to 9, 2022.
During the change workshop, the delegation from Kazakhstan included representatives from the Government, the Civil Initiatives Support Center (the Grant Operator), and NGOs. They met with the Croatian Government Office for Cooperation with CSOs; the National Foundation for Civil Society Development; and Croatian CSOs focused on gender equality, public advocacy and anti-corruption. Participants explored examples of the state support of CSOs; and the Croatian legal framework governing public participation in the development, implementation, and monitoring of public policies, with a view to their applicability in Kazakhstan.
As a result, the delegation from Kazakhstan developed a change plan, which includes specific actions aimed to apply selected best practices of state funding and participatory policymaking in Kazakhstan. The change plan also introduced amendments to Members of Parliament to consider the Law on Amendments and Additions to the Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Volunteering, Charity, State Social Order and Grants for Non-Governmental Organizations and the Rules on the Developing, Providing, Monitoring and Evaluation of the Efficiency of the State Grants.