by Stig Trommer, Senior Operations Officer, GPSA

 The GPSA project in Kyrgyz Republic, implemented by the Development Policy Institute (DPI) and the Association of Village Health Committees (AVHC), has over the last 3 years been focused in empowering citizens and public officials in Grozd' village, in northern Kyrgyzstan.The project aims to improve local health determinants by engaging the two players in joint-problem solving.

Grozd' village, one of 25 communities benefiting from the project, located in the Alamudun raion (district), is only about 30 km from Bishkek. However, despite its closeness to the capital, for decades it was left with outdated and deficient basic services, including adequate health services. This is typical for most villages in the Kyrgyz Republic, where it's still difficult to bring about an accountable and inclusive approach to problem solving.

However, this GPSA-funded social accountability initiative, has successfully laid the foundations whereby (i) citizens living in rural areas, through the Village Health Committees, and (ii) local self-governements, through the ayil okmotu (executive body of LSG), are now capable of identifying, prioritizing, and solving their own problems. "Local self-government is the basis of our country. We are grateful to our Village Health Committee volunteers for contributing (willingness and resources) to support the wellbeing of our people", said Mr. Syrgak Kydykeev who heads of the local self-government of Grozd village.

This project placed special emphasis on empowering local villagers to understand that they can solve problems by working together. In the village of Grozd, this shift of mentality has led to concrete changes on the ground. The dynamic of the entrepreneurial Ms. Kuljakul Koichubekova, head of the Grodz Village Health Committee, has been able to bring together the needs of the community - especially women and children - to get meaningful responses from the generally male dominated local self-government. As she proudly showed off the recently built local health center, Ms. Koichubekova said: "We all realize that we all need to work hard for the sake of our community".