Social Innovation and Volunteerism in Uzbekistan
Conducted jointly by UNDP, UNV and national partners, the ‘Social Innovation and Volunteerism’ project aims to empower and support Uzbekistan’s youth participating in community development processes. By providing a combination of guidance, training and small grants to groups of proactive individuals, we promote volunteerism and pioneer social innovation for inclusive development.
The vital role volunteers play in empowered and resilient communities, as well as in working towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, has been recognised by several UN resolutions and referred to personally by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. However despite Uzbekistan's rich tradition of ‘Hashar’ (mutual help community groups), the concepts of community-based volunteerism and voluntary community service are not yet widely known in the country. The project seeks to change this by enabling and supporting a culture of volunteerism throughout Uzbekistan.
Additionally, the project will introduce the concept of social innovation as a tool to support volunteer initiatives and to promote the idea of social entrepreneurialism. Social innovation is increasingly seen as the key creative ingredient in locally-driven development, and has already been successfully applied in a number of CIS countries. This project will pioneer similar approaches for the first time in Uzbekistan.
- Awareness raising on decision making processes for young people has been possible through curriculum enhancement of “Foundation of Constitutional Law” and “Foundation of State and Law” (now being used by 500,000 students in all the high schools of Uzbekistan) , as well as national contest “Parliamentarism Connoisseur”, and educational multimedia material has been developed on Basics of Parliamentarism, the National Contest on “The Best Innovative Thinking” has been organized, engaging 1200 colleges and lyceums around Uzbekistan, and 20,000 young people. UN Resource Room at the National Library of Uzbekistan named after Alisher Navoi has also been created for wider access of public to world depository of knowledge possessed by UN.
- Online platform – www.iact.uz - creates venues for young people in each region of Uzbekistan to engage in social, civic and community life, and serves as the Gateway of Social Innovations created for the first time in Uzbekistan.
- Volunteers mobilized around social issues such as recycling and waste management through promoting eco-bags and selling those at Korzinka.uz. Production of eco-bags was given to a group of socially vulnerable women working in a social enterprise in Shakhrisabz. To this day, with more than 15,000 eco-bags sold (about $30,000 earned in three months) in three major supermarkets chains, 10 socially vulnerable women are fully employed by producing the eco-bags.
- Volunteer practice adopted through the establishment of “Schools of Volunteers” at the Westminster International University in Tashkent, Namangan and a Toolkit of Working with Volunteers. Concept of a Volunteer Book has been introduced that encourages youth to keep their volunteering as a sustainable practice.
- Network of Parliamantary youth. With more than 16000 young people having taken part in the "Parliamentarism Connoisseur" contest annually organized by the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan initiated and launched with support of the Project, a huge country-wide network is organized of young people with passion in area of parliamentarism.
- Do-It-Yourself Lab network of 270 volunteers. As a result implementing the innovation project called DIY Lab, a wide network of 267 (males - 127, females - 140)volunteers have emerged in 5 regions of Uzbekistan - Samarkand, Bukhara, Ferghana, Nukus and Tashkent. With a particular emphasis made by the project on the sustainability of the launched initiative, the DIY Labs keep all these DIY volunteers engaged on a sustainable basis by serving their communities and various charity organizations through the organized and fully operational DIY Labs.
Considerations about the sustainability of each of the project’s key objectives will be emphasised at each implementation stage. The project utilises several key strategies for ensuring that its positive impacts can continue beyond the immediate input from UNDP after 2014:
- Firstly, initiatives such as the Social Innovation Lab or Debates Training have been developed and implemented in close collaboration with well-established partners who can guarantee the continuity of project activities;
- Secondly, the project will work to build the capacities of national partners. This will ensure that partner organisations such as the ‘Kelajak Ovozi’ Centre for Youth Initiatives are in a strong position to advocate for and promote volunteerism in the future;
- Thirdly, the project will work to establish a set of standard procedures to be widely used in the future. Developed through dialogue with national partners, both a code of conduct for volunteers and a toolkit addressing the responsibilities of volunteer-employing organisations will help to build a lasting framework for volunteerism in Uzbekistan;
- Finally, the project will work to provide training and awareness-raising to a large number of individuals throughout Uzbekistan, with the intention that these individuals will act as multipliers within their own social networks. This will ensure progress towards an enabling cultural environment for volunteer action and social innovation in Uzbekistan.