UNDP Resident Representative Matilda Dimovska and Nozim Husanov, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations of Uzbekistan, this week travelled to Namangan in the far east of the country to launch of a new initiative that is intended to help accelerate the post-pandemic economic recovery of the region.
The Fergana valley is the most densely populated area of the country, with many young people seeking to secure employment and training; a challenge that has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms Dimovska said the new Adapting Population Skills project will provide training to informally employed individuals, returning labour migrants and other vulnerable persons and will focus on those skills most in demand, such as professional technical and digital skills and competencies needed for the labor market in the future. “It also will build the Fergana Valley’s ‘start-up ecosystem’,” she said, “by helping the public and private sectors develop digital, technical, and cognitive abilities, while also building workforce adaptability and resilience.”
UNDP Resident Representative also said that strengthening the region’s entrepreneurial and small business sector would contribute to poverty reduction and is in line with priorities of the 2021 Year of Supporting Youth and Strengthening Public Health. “President Mirziyoyev declared the theme for this year as a way to create broad opportunities for young people to set ambitious goals and then to achieve them,” she said. “And we intend to support him with this in every way that we can.”
At the launch, Minister Nozim Husanov said he greatly appreciated the support of and symbiotic relationship with UNDP to ensure a smooth and speedy recovery from the pandemic. He also stated that under the state employment program for 2021 the Ministry is implementing a number of programs promoting employment and income of people, especially youth and women, graduates entering the labor market, including stimulation of business activities to create new jobs.
The event was attended by national partners including the Khokim of the Namangan region, and representatives of regional departments for population employment, branches of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and NGOs.
Also, in attendance were representatives of the embassies of Russia and Japan, whose governments are donors in the initiative.
During the visit, UNDP and Ministry officials also reviewed the impacts of the ‘Promoting Youth Employment in Uzbekistan’ project. They attended the delivery of 44 units of equipment passed within the framework of small business support programme to entrepreneurs building businesses in online electronics sales, clothing and national crafts production, and food delivery, and also an initiative to establish a software programming and graphic design school for young people. This donated equipment will help establish 31 jobs including for women and youth, while also creating professional education opportunities for 20 individuals.
Following this a meeting with the Khokim of the Namangan region Shavkat Abdurazzakov was held to discuss some of the most pressing concerns for the region in terms of strengthening youth employment and building livelihoods in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The second day of Ms. Dimovska’s visit, on 25 May, included tours of agri-business development projects implemented by UNDP in the Fergana Valley, through the ‘Enhancing the adaptation and strengthening the resilience of farming to Climate Change Risks in the Fergana Valley’ and the Rapid Response Facility (RRF) project responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. The toured initiatives, significantly funded by the governments of Russia and Japan, include project initiatives on lemon growing and an agrometeorological station in the Yangikurgan district, and the opening of a cold storage initiative in the Chartak district.
In the afternoon there was an opening of a youth hub in the city of Namangan. This is one of three platforms established by the ‘Youth for social harmony in the Fergana Valley’ joint project of Youth Agency, UNDP, UNODC and UNESCO, funded by the UN Peacebuilding Fund. It will serve as a platform for young people to develop business ideas, launch start-ups, and play a more active role in building sustainability, security and development of society. Ms. Dimovska also attended the opening a volunteer school within the youth centre, the purpose of which is to expand a network of youth volunteers in the Fergana Valley area, create networking and support initiatives, and improve the legal literacy needed to organize volunteer activities.
With critical funding provided from the governments of Russia and Japan, UNDP is committed to supporting the Government in its efforts to improve the livelihoods of young people both in Fergana Valley and throughout Uzbekistan. Creating employment opportunities for young people to build their employment skills and abilities, particularly in small business and volunteering, will play a vital role in ensuring the country can further recovers from the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.