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Seminars on eco-education in the Balkhash district

21 december 2021
Environmental education seminars held in the Balkhash district of Almaty region to benefit local residents.

Seminars for community members living in Karoy and Koktal villages were held under the framework of the project "Ecological Thinking is the key to a successful future" sponsored by Citi foundation.

WWF project implementer in Kyrgyzstan, Farida Balbakova, visited the villages and gave lectures on the topics of "Ecological tourism", "Environmental education with elements of national folklore" and "Experience of Local Development Funds and alternative sources of income".

During these seminars, communities were advised to create local eco youth clubs and organize local festivals celebrating nature, for example an annual "Land of Zholbarys" (aka Land of the Tiger). Additionally, to demonstrate community involvement in conservation, she presented several successful case studies of community-led conservation work from Kyrgyzstan, giving examples of Local Development Funds and Jamaats (officially recognized self-organized community groups).

(c) WWF Russia
According to the expert, the creation of LDF (local development funds) will enable residents to develop sustainably and receive alternative income by engaging in conservation activities, which in the future may have a positive impact on socio-economic problems in villages.
"There is great potential for tourism development, especially in terms of attracting stakeholders and reviving the traditions nomadic culture of the Kazakh people. Ecotourism will definitely help small businesses, such as entrepreneurs who engaged in the manufacture and sale of souvenirs, the production of dairy, fish and meat products. Also, a guide on creating an LDF using the example of existing communities will be compiled for residents who have shown interest in the project. This guide can help to people of the Balkhash district to establish their own "Jamaat" and participate in social conservation projects" - says Farida Balbakova.

In Kyrgyzstan, local development funds managed to create environmental and sustainable economic mechanisms that contributed to the implementation of conservation and social projects. All of them are aimed at improving the standard of living the rural population in the border zone of the Sarychat-Eertash and Naryn Nature Reserves and the Khan-Tengri Nature Park. The project participants learned how to create “jamaats” and develop alternative income-generating activities.

In 2021, 13 jamaats received LDF funds, totaling 1,794,405 soms (about 21,161 USD) for the development of sustainable and environmentally sound farming practices and ecotourism. For comparison, since the creation of the LDF in 2014 in the high-altitude villages around the Sarychat-Errtash Reserve (Central Tien Shan), the starting amount was 500,000 soms. Thus, the seed funds (originally provided by WWF) grew three times.

The local communities of highland villages have demonstrated their ability to switch to a social and conservation-oriented lifestyle, and poaching around these communities has completely ceased.

For additional information please contact
Director of the Central Asian Program Office of WWF-Russia