PVE Kazakshtan
UN Volunteer Medina Tolegenova and participants in the Prevention of Violent Extremism Project, Kazakhstan.

Serving to prevent violent extremism among the youth of Central Asia

Located in different cities of Kazakhstan, UN Volunteers are to introduce initiatives of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) project "Strengthening Community Resilience and Regional Cooperation for Prevention of Violent Extremism in Central Asia" to the whole region. The project’s overall objective is to mobilize youth’s energy, mobility, open-mindedness and dynamism as a potential positive force of countering extremist influences and narratives in the vulnerable communities. 

The project focuses on development measures to contribute to prevention of violent extremism through in-country activities in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. At the same time, all countries of Central Asia, including Uzbekistan, are taking part in the activities envisaged within the regional component of the initiative.

The project is spearheaded by UNDP Kazakhstan, which works closely with the respective UNDP country offices and UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub (for regional components).

The project measures break the "vicious circle" of violent extremism, creating opportunities for young people to actively participate in public life and promoting their productive employment. UN Volunteers, in this case young people themselves, bring inspiration that our beneficiaries share. Volunteers are also professionals who mentor our youth. In addition, they are a valuable part and great team members who always seek fresh ideas driving the Project to success. --Dana Oraz, Project Manager

Within this project, Shyngys Dadanbayev serves as a national UN Volunteer Research and Project Assistant in Balkhash city, Karaganda oblast. He is responsible for developing teamwork skills, enabling entrepreneurship schemes for youth, making social grants available for any non-profit organization with a goal to support young business representatives in taking more employees.

In 2020, over 100 vulnerable youth of Balkhash town had a chance to take part in a 3-month subsidized Apprenticeship Programme organized by UNDP. In addition, 90 young women and men being in challenging contexts participated in thematic workshops on emotional intelligence, leadership, as well as employment opportunities. Young people aged 18-29 years old also had a chance to take part in summer camps where they shared their knowledge and experience with peers from Karaganda and Aktobe oblasts. --Shyngys Dadanbayev, UN Volunteer


Shyngys Dadanbayev, national UN Volunteer Research and Project Associate in Balkhash, Karaganda Oblast. ©UNDP 2020

Choices and actions of the young generation are springs of sustainable development. It is a great honor for me to contribute to the empowerment of our youth --Shyngys Dadanbayev, UN Volunteer

Medina Tolegenova, a UN Volunteer Research and Project Assistant in Shalkar town, Aktobe oblast, on a regular basis meets with local institutions, resource centres, non-governmental organizations and business representatives for awareness-raising about the problem of extremism and the ways to tackle the issue in the region within the ongoing project.

Youth is a large part of local population and it is constantly searching for employment opportunities. When descent workplaces are not available, or a young person has no knowledge and awareness of prospective in her / his profession, self-doubting and social tension start. This is only one of many reasons why young people change common life to extreme forms of existence such as serving radical organizations.

However, spread of violent extremism across national borders is becoming an urgent issue for all countries of Central Asia threatening to undermine their development achievements since independence. Radicalization, especially among young people, is a direct threat to the peace, stability and development of the entire region.

Tackling the issue, two weeks ago the project team in Shalkar conducted online trainings for jobs like pastry chef, video editor, graphic designer; coordinated several cohorts of Apprenticeship Programme; distributed six entrepreneurial and three social grants to local SMEs and non-governmental organizations.


Medina Tolegenova (third from left), national UN Volunteer Research and Project Associate in Shalkar, Aktobe Oblast, with her colleagues. ©UNDP 2020

We also had large campaigns for awareness-raising and succeeded in establishing regional youth networks and knowledge sharing,-- Medina Tolegenova, UN Volunteer.

Speaking of this aspect, another UN Volunteer, Anel Takauova, national UN Volunteer Project Assistant in Nur-Sultan, in 2019 helped establish platforms for Central Asian regional dialogues with the young men and women, and the opinion leaders on the issues relevant to young people.


Anel Takauova, national UN Volunteer Project Assistant in Nur-Sultan. ©UNDP 2020

To develop a greater sense of belonging and peer-to-peer support for at-risk youth, we need to develop 'safe' engagement platforms and to show alternative ways of development. --Anel Takauova, UN Volunteer

To establish the project, generously supported by the Government of Japan, in each country, a preliminary list of target areas at district level was defined in consultations with national partners such as the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the General Prosecutor’s Office and other security bodies as well as based on the research analyses carried out in those districts / areas where young people are most susceptible to radicalization.

Research made showed that in addition to the poorest and most marginalized residents, young people are the most vulnerable to radicalization and may be potentially involved in violent extremism cases. There are several drivers of radicalization, but most important is what we all can do to prevent it. --Nikita Shabayev, former UN Volunteer currently serving as Project Specialist