FY 2009 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance: Turkmenistan
FY 2009 Foreign Assistance Goals
Turkmenistan’s strategic location, bordering both Iran and Afghanistan, and large hydrocarbon reserves, underlie the U.S. Government’s (USG) interest in the country’s continued efforts to reach international standards in many areas. Previously an exceedingly isolated country and society, both under the Soviet Union, and subsequently, until the death of former President Niyazov in December 2006, Turkmenistan continues to make notable progress in its cooperation efforts with the international community, which are fully invested in ensuring its peaceful transition to democracy, stable economic growth, and an improved quality of life for its people.
Total FY 2009 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance: $8.85 million*
Highlights of FY 2009 Performance by Area of Focus
Peace and Security
In FY 2009, USG assistance:
- Supported the training of 11 technical experts who established a framework for the development of a licensing system for strategic trade control to improve both procedures and practices for transfers of controlled items. The USG also provided Commodity Identification Training for 19 customs and border guard personnel aimed at preventing the proliferation of sensitive commodities through both computer based instruction and by the examination of dual-use products. U.S. assistance provided technology training in x-ray fluorescence for 12 Customs officers and an interdiction at rail ports training program was conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security personnel for 24 customs and border guard personnel.
- Constructed the border crossing checkpoint (BCC) at Farap on the Uzbek border, which opened on October 15. The Farap BCC provides the latest technology for the Government of Turkmenistan to interdict narcotics trafficking. Began developing a radio communication network to facilitate SCNS operations. Traffickers continue to use Turkmenistan as a northern route for smuggling Afghan opiates to Europe and Russia.
- Trained a Turkmen air force officer in the United States on air traffic control. The training will help improve coordination and air traffic control support for humanitarian over-flights over Turkmenistan.
- Increased drug seizures at the Imam-Nazar border checkpoint by training Turkmen personnel in narcotics inspection and interdiction techniques.
- Provided training in crime scene processing for Turkmen police officials. This training was aimed to increase the quality of the evidence collected at scenes, therefore increasing the utility of the evidence in the forensic laboratory.
- Allowed for the distribution of 2,000 pamphlets on drug abuse through public meetings on the occasion of International Day against Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking. The distribution of brochures and the public gatherings in the capital and the provinces were the first ever sanctioned public activities for drug demand reduction.
- Provided English language training at the Altyn Asyr Customs Point Training Center in Ashgabat for law enforcement officials. Seventeen new students from six law enforcement agencies undertook English language training and as a result were selected for a UK study tour in January 2010.
Governing Justly and Democratically
In FY 2009, USG assistance:
- Trained more than 3,400 people, including members of 32 civic organizations and representatives of 350 local governments on leadership, advocacy and management skills. Twenty-two of the local government officials participating in these programs later won seats in the July 2009 local government elections. Also trained more than 3,400 young people and helped them organize 36 self-funded local civic initiatives and volunteer activities, (e.g. environmental clean-ups, and assist handicapped and retired people). Provided pro bono legal consultations to more than 18,000 people, including referrals, hot line calls, group and individual consultations, and recipients of printed material, to resolve contract, labor, family, housing disputes and other related issues.
- Provided small grants to 25 NGOs, including 10 civic education projects that reached over 550 youth, four projects to assist rural women, three projects focused on fighting trafficking in persons (TIP), two projects that assisted people with disabilities and two English language projects that reached over 300 youth.
- In cooperation with the Government of Turkmenistan, conducted a workshop on legislation governing public associations. This roundtable, attended by local NGOs, Ministry of Justice, members of Parliament, MFA and others, resulted in a series of recommendations to remove legal and policy impediments to the formation and operation of NGOs.
Investing in People
In FY 2009, USG assistance:
- Continued supporting a youth center in Ashgabat and opened a second one in Dashoguz. The USG turned responsibility for financing and operating these centers over to the Youth Union. Before the handover, the two youth centers had contact with about 15,000 at-risk youth (ARY), a majority of whom participated in trainings and mini-outreach sessions about HIV prevention and risky behaviors. A psychologist provided counseling to over 376 ARY, a gynecologist counseled 295 ARY, and a doctor provided counseling on sexually-transmitted infections to 634 ARY. An additional 6,300 ARY had contact with the two youth centers’ alternative to risky behavior activities, such as dance clubs, computer classes, table tennis, English and Russian classes, and chess.
- In collaboration with other donors, developed and opened a drop-in center for HIV prevention among drug users in Ashgabat. In the first week that the drop-in center was open, 34 clients accessed its services and received information about HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and risk reduction as well as counseling by psychologists and drug addiction specialists.
- Expanded the USG-developed electronic Hospital Information System (HIS) to an additional four hospitals in 2009, bringing the total number of pilot hospitals in the system to 14. HIS organizes patient data and increases the ability of the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry (MOHMI) to record and analyze hospital information by automating a hospital discharge form and aggregating a hospital report form. Monitoring results show that the statistics departments in all 14 pilot sites are using the automated discharge and hospital forms appropriately, and that the heads of all pilot hospital statistics departments supervise data entry and coding of diagnoses effectively. This same HIS software was also introduced to a number of Turkmen health facilities beyond these existing pilot sites – evidence of the fact that the MOHMI intends to continue to increase electronic means to improve health delivery and perhaps develop new health financing or provider payment system methodologies through electronic means. The Medical Institute Health Management Center has now taken responsibility for HIS and database training.
- Supported child health through the integration of the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses Program (IMCI) into primary health care (PHC). Health officials recommended national expansion of the program from the 14 pilot districts to all 66 districts, and the USG supported expansion to only an additional district in FY 2009. To date, 35% of all PHC practitioners throughout the country have received U.S.-funded IMCI training.
- Helped fund the Turkmen American Scholarship Program (TASP), which conducts a nationwide competition to select students to study at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) and receive a Bachelor’s degree in an American-style university. In addition to the TASP program, the USG funded seven Eurasian Undergraduate Exchange (UGRAD) participants and six Muskie fellows who enrolled in U.S. universities at the graduate level. Despite continued USG efforts at increasingly higher levels, all students seeking to study abroad under the TASP, UGRAD and Muskie programs have been delayed in pursuing their studies because the Government of Turkmenistan denied them permission to leave Turkmenistan.
- Helped over 260 Turkmen students ages 14-24 to improve their English skills and engage in topics otherwise ignored in the official Turkmen education curriculum. Students discussed democracy, human rights, rule of law, black history, women’s issues, and other topics.
In FY 2009, USG assistance:
- Trained nine Turkmen in the United States on airport development, water resource management, intellectual property rights, dairy processing and packaging, and niche tourism.
- Continued to strengthen private sector accounting through the Russian-language Certified Accounting Practitioner (CAP) and Certified International Professional Accountant (CIPA) training, examination, and certification program. Helped to establish the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Training Center at the Academy of Sciences, which will train university professors to introduce IFRS into the Turkmen university accounting curriculum and serve as a resource facility for Turkmen professors’ ongoing professional development. A CAP/CIPA Train the Trainers program was conducted at the IFRS Training Centre involving 102 university professors. In addition a CAP/CIPA Train the Trainers program was conducted for 275 banking sector specialists. Overall, within the financial sector, having an increased number of trained accountants implementing reliable accounting practices will promote more effective financial management, transparency, accountability and professional values.