The Republic of Kazakhstan is an ethnically diverse country located in Central Asia with a population of 19 million people.
Following a period of economic growth, the country has experienced significant internal migration to urban centres with around 56% of the population now living in cities and the remaining 44% living in rural communities.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Kazakhstan since 1997.
Around 5% of the population lives under the nationally defined poverty line. However, children constitute more than 40% of all Kazakhstanis living in poverty, this is currently, almost 1 million children. Families with many children are most likely to live in poverty, partly due to the inadequate social support for families with children.
Without well-resourced services to support families that face difficult situations, children run the risk of ending up in institutions, deprived of opportunities to grow in more caring environments.
There are large differences in living standards between regions and among rural and urban areas. Rural poverty levels are twice as high compared to urban levels.
As a result, more than 3% of children between the ages of five and 14 are forced to work. Many work more than13 hours a day, missing school and being exposed to chemicals that damage their health.
Child labour deprives children of their rights and often exposes them to physical and mental harm.
While the prospects of young people seem to have greatly improved in recent years, with, for example, better educational opportunities, young people are struggling in Kazakhstan.
Death by suicide remains a leading cause of adolescent mortality, at a rate higher than the Eastern Europe and Central Asia regional averages.
Professional services for children and young people who require mental health support are often inadequate.