Six problems – six solutions: The EU small grants help the local communities in Mangystau to deal with environmental issues

16.9.2016 - AKTAU/ASTANA
Majda Slámová

The citizens of Mangystau now have four concerns fewer. Some of the serious environmental issues have been successfully resolved by local civic initiatives with two more cases still on-going (1). Support for active communities in dealing with particular problems (2) was the objective of the Small Grants Programme organized by non-governmental organizations EcoMuseum and CINEST (Karaganda), Eco Mangystau (Aktau), and Arnika (the Czech Republic) as part of the project “Enforcing citizens’ rights and public participation in decision making on environmental issues – practical implementation of Aarhus Convention in Mangystau” financed by the European Union and the Czech government (3).

In Kuryk, pupils of one local school were walking for years through a yard flooded by broken sewer. An initiative group of local women – Azhar-ai – organized a public survey, prepared a letter to the authorities, and organized a round table and a public discussion. After few months of pressure, the district akimat (district government) repaired the broken pipes and promised to carry out a larger reconstruction of the entire sewage system soon.

Citizens’ initiative Baisheshek raised the issue of the Aktau city municipal landfill, operating for years without valid permission and polluting the nearby residential district Baskuduk with dust, odors, and rubbish. Their protest pushed the authorities to close the landfill down and open a new one at Bayandi village.

Another two projects had mostly public awareness aspect. The non-governmental organization Koldau Kazakhstan has organized an information campaign against the illegal trade of endangered saiga antelope horns and is prompting the state authorities to be more active on the issue. Zhas Dauren from Baskuduk organized a workshop on tree planting and composting, and he distributed 50 free fruit trees to demonstrate that everybody can contribute their bit to a better environment in their towns and villages.

“Our objective was not to solve the environmental issues but to activate local communities and support brave local people in enforcing positive changes. We believe that only active citizens can guarantee the sustainable development of Mangystau and contribute to the improvement of the governance. People have the power,” says Martin Skalsky, director of Arnika – Citizens Support Centre from the Czech Republic.

Kirill Osin, director of Eco Mangystau, adds: “We often feel too shy or not expert enough to raise our voice. But the solution of local environmental issues in many cases does not require too much effort or knowledge. It is important not to be indifferent.”

Another two local projects are still on-going. Citizens’ initiative in Shetpe is struggling to stop the dust nuisance from the stone quarries – there are 13 stone quarries around the town.

Many of them are not complying with the relevant environmental standards. Green Send is planning to involve local school children and young people in massive planting of trees in Aktau.


1) Brief description of completed projects
1/ Information campaign against illegal trade of saiga horns

Implementing organization: Koldau Kazakhstan / budget: 1,580 euro

Within the project, the lecture on the “Fate of saiga antelope is in our hands” was prepared in Russian and Kazakh languages and large format posters “Let’s stop illegal trade with saiga horns” was printed out. The round table to discuss the current threats to saiga antelopes and possible ways to stop illegal trade was organized, with the attendance of 9 representatives of the state authorities. Hot-line 8 (7292) 60-95-50 has been established, where the citizens can report cases of illegal horn trade, and it has been announced through the mass-media. The lecture was presented in 8 schools and colleges of Beyneu and Munaily districts of Mangystau Region and in Aktau city – 1,571 students participated; pupils and students also watched cartoon movie “Saga of Saiga.” After the lectures, groups formed by 46 volunteers from among the students put up 500 posters in public places (markets, stations, bus stops) in Aktau and two other relevant districts.

2/ Improvement of the environment in Kuryk town

Implementing organization: Azhar-ai / budget: 1,280 euro / 11,000 affected people

Public opinion survey has been carried out (1,000 respondents) on the environmental situation of the town. People emphasised the insufficient waste management, the lack of greenery, and the desolate state of infrastructure. The findings were presented to the town and district authorities at the round table (12 participants). 58 people participated in the public debate, where a collective appeal has been signed. The most urgent issue identified was the leakage of the sewer into the yard of the school No. 6. Workshop for the pupils on waste management and littering was attended by 50 children; 81 people took part in the public planting of the trees. Another round table with the aim to discuss the solution of revealed issues with the authorities was attended by 45 participants. As a visible result, the district authority repaired broken sewer, promised to carry out the reconstruction of the entire sewage system, and fenced off a number of waste containers in the town.

3/ Our local environment is in our hands! (Baskuduk)

Implementing organization: Zhas Dauren / budget: 1,926 euro / 15,000 affected people

A round table has been organized (18 participants) to discuss the current environmental issues of the village between the civil society organizations and the state authorities. Littering, insufficient waste management, dust nuisance and the lack of greenery were identified as major issues. Information brochure on waste disposal, nature protection, and composting was distributed (300 pcs). The citizens were encouraged to start the improvement of the village environment from their inner yards. Ten selected interested families were instructed on how to make their own compost from organic waste and how to plant the trees; they were also presented with fruit tree seedlings (in total, 50 trees were distributed). The distribution and planting of the trees was turned into a small local festival with the participation of the deputy akim (mayor), and it was attended by about a hundred people. The citizen information campaign was also part of the event. Report on the event was published in 3 newspapers.

2) Selected results of the Small Grants Programme


Press articles

Public hearings / meetings

Workshops / trainings / lectures

Public awareness events

Total participants of events

Koldau (Mangystau)






Azhar-ai (Kuryk)






Zhas Dauren (Baskuduk)












3) More on the Small Grants Programme

International activities