Kazakhstan’s NGO receives UNDP’s Equator Prize

ASTANA (TCA) — Kazakhstan’s Public Foundation Zhassyl Azyk has received the Equator Prize in an award ceremony on September 17 in New York. Zhassyl Azyk was selected as the recipient of the prestigious award along with fifteen other organizations from twelve countries. This is the first time when a non-governmental organization from Kazakhstan is receiving this honorary prize, the UNDP in Kazakhstan reported.

The Equator Prize was founded fifteen years ago by the United Nations Development Programme to honour outstanding indigenous and local community initiatives, advancing local nature-based solutions for sustainable development.

Zhassyl Azyk is a public foundation consisting of five farming communities of Kazakhstan working to restore the productivity of low-fertility lands by sustainably cultivating alfalfa. Alfalfa cultivation using simple technologies and limited financial resources serves as an entry point to restore soil fertility, counter the effects of monoculture, promote efficient use of limited water resources, and improve smallholder farmers’ incomes by 20 percent in one year alone.

Zhassyl Azyk is an example of how grass-roots foundations can expand economic opportunities for their communities and help save the environment. More than 200 jobs have been created to date through the initiative’s work, and the Government has integrated these practices into the National Programme for the Development of the Agro-industrial Complex thus allowing for countrywide scaling up of alfalfa cultivation.

“The 2030 Sustainable Development agenda is truly a ‘people’s’ agenda with the focus of leaving no one behind. In this context, it is very rewarding to see initiatives like Zhassyl Azyk transform into movements that ultimately empower people and help tackle climate change effects at local levels,” said Mr. Norimasa Shimomura, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan.

Sergey Kwan