COVID-19 has become a severe stress test for the entire governance system of Kyrgyzstan. No policy area has been left untouched by the impact of the global health crisis. The country’s healthcare system, underfunded for many years, had reached the point that calls were left unanswered and patients were left unattended. Many lives were lost, and even more families ended up on the brink of survival. The full scale of the pandemic’s economic damage has yet to be realized, while the pandemic is far from being over. The country’s leadership was ousted in street protests, for its hapless handling of the pandemic and its implications.
The fragility of the Kyrgyz economy has been at the heart of the country’s suffering under the coronavirus. The pandemic quickly exposed and exacerbated the pre-existing weaknesses, including the country’s empty coffers and households’ reliance on remittances from abroad and daily earnings. The situation worsened due to the lack of timely policy measures to prevent overburdening the health sector. Finally, serious allegations against high-ranking officials of embezzling pandemic aid remind us that corruption, together with incompetence, remains the most prominent factor undermining government capacity from within.
The crisis that overwhelmed state institutions revealed the resilience of civil society in Kyrgyzstan. Thousands of volunteers showed up to deliver food to starving families during the lockdown, raise funds to procure masks and oxygen systems, and eventually help doctors and nurses to handle the influx of patients in makeshift hospitals. The show of solidarity was reassuring at the moment of a crisis; yet it was also a reminder that a similar engagement and solidarity remains necessary to build a more effective, resilient, and accountable government.
The present report (click below to download) offers a comprehensive analysis of Kyrgyzstan’s fight against COVID-19. Completed in March 2021, it builds around three questions: a) what was the government’s strategy to address the pandemic; b) what were the successes and failures in the country’s fight against COVID-19; and c) what are the longer- term consequences of the pandemic for the future? The report looks at how key actors, including the government, civil society, private business, and international donors and partners, responded to the emergency. Specific attention is paid to the nature of successes and failures that the country faced in addressing the pandemic in 2020.Download the report
Dr Shairbek Dzhuraev is co-founder of Crossroads Central Asia.
The report was commissioned by Hanns Seidel Stiftung (HSS) and is part of the HSS series titled “Asia Fighting COVID-19”.