Q1: Overall efficiency:
The five Central Asian National Societies continued to respond to the regional impact of COVID-19. Currently, the region is experiencing its third wave of COVID-19, fueled by the Delta strain in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and possibly other countries. The region has reported a total of 1,119,994 cases of COVID-19 infection to date, but that number is likely underreported, due to patchy data from Tajikistan. At the same time, countries have stepped up their immunization efforts, with Kazakhstan reaching 26.8% of the entire population fully immunized, followed by 5.5% in Kyrgyzstan and 3.7% in Uzbekistan. Turkmenistan reported that it administered 0.7 doses per 100 people and Tajikistan reported that it administered 20.63 doses per 100 people. National Societies responded with determination and courage. In addition, individual National Societies have themselves been victims of the pandemic; for example, it is estimated that over 70% of the staff of the Tajikistan Red Crescent Society have tested positive. It should be noted that the continued heavy workload and reduced staff / volunteer numbers due to COVID-19 related illness and self-quarantine, have left National Societies in a state of overburdened exhaustion.
In addition, climate change continues to impact Central Asia, as evidenced by DREF-funded operations in southern Tajikistan (Operation # MDRTJ030, floods) and southern Kazakhstan (MDRKZ010, drought). Other emergency operations took place in the Rasht Valley (earthquake) and Zeravshan Valley (mudslide) in Tajikistan.
The border conflict between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which occurred in May, has caused the two National Societies to work alongside their respective public authorities in their role as auxiliaries to their governments. The IFRC has supported the Kyrgyz Red Crescent Society in its request for DREF funds, focusing on population movements (Operation # MDRKG013)
In May, the Tajikistan Red Crescent Society launched a complex contingency planning exercise, anticipating the possibility of an influx of Afghan refugees into the country.
In this scenario, as in that of the border conflict, National Society leaders spent considerable time and energy navigating the political complexities of these situations, determining their appropriate roles as humanitarian actors and as auxiliaries to the public authorities in the humanitarian field.
During the reporting period, travel to Central Asia has been difficult due to restrictions related to COVID-19. This has been particularly the case in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, due to quarantine and visa restrictions. Remote communication and engagement with National Societies in Central Asia has proven difficult compared to the preferred face-to-face engagement modality.
The 2021 Operational Plan for Central Asia was developed on the basis of the expectation that the pre-requisite human resources would be in place by January 2021. In reality, the Head of the Country Cluster Delegation, the Program Coordinator and the Coordinator Development of the National Society all began their functions during the period mid-April to June. It is important to note that the head of the country cluster delegation has been appointed to a new post and has moved to Geneva. Therefore, throughout the reporting period, the head of the country cluster delegation had two roles and responsibilities. In addition, the focal point for disaster law left his post during the reporting period, and the process of recruiting a replacement is ongoing; and the post of IFRC Logistics Officer for Central Asia became vacant, which had an impact on the ongoing procurement processes in the region.
Finally, during this period, the delegation of the Central Asian Country Cluster moved from Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan, which proved to be an additional complication considering the overall context.
The context, as highlighted above, had a significant impact on the ability of the International Federation and National Societies Secretariat to implement the 2021 Operational Plan during this period. However, the five National Societies and the IFRC Secretariat team responded effectively to current realities and emerging priorities, in favor of vulnerable populations.