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April 14, 2017
Integrated Social Services Deliver Efficiency and Effectiveness for Citizens in Need
For Murat Nurgozhin of Pavlodar, Kazakhstan, a health issue trig-gered a downward spiral into social vulnerability. “In 2007, I had a heart attack, which left me with a Class 2 disability, unable to work. As a result, my family fell apart, and now I spend one-third of my pension on child support.” Murat lived at the train station for years, until the local government allocated him a room on the fifth floor of a local dormitory, where he struggled to climb up and down the stairs. On his small pension, Murat had barely enough money for medicine, food, and child support, and amassed hundreds of dollars of debt in utility costs.
Last year a pilot inter-agency team of social support specialists heard about Murat through his social worker, and team members reached out to offer assistance. The team coordinator in the city of Pavlodar, Bakhyt Kalinovna Aktayeva, describes the compounded challenges Murat faced at that time. “Marat was in a very difficult place financially. Because of his utilities debt, the bank card with his pension had been blocked and his electricity had been turned off. For several days he sat in the dark without food or groceries.”
The team went to work to get Murat back on his feet. “The special-ists provided consultations on all of the issues which concern me, and explained different benefits available to me due to my disability. They gave a full answer to each of my questions, and provided ad-vice on how to best move forward,” said Murat.
Through their coordinated efforts, the team was able to reduce the utilities debt, purchase groceries, and even buy Murat a mobile tele-phone to help him stay in contact with his social worker. “Most im-portantly, I was finally able to take the steps I needed to solve these issues”, says Murat. “This new approach is certainly better!” The team is working to help Murat become financially independent - in January 2017, they registered him with the Center for Employment to find a job which best meets his needs.
The pilot team for integrated social services in Pavlodar is a project of the non-profit community foundation “ZUBR”, which has estab-lished a total of 13 inter-agency teams in Astana, Almaty, and five regions of Kazakhstan. Each team brings together representatives of the Departments of Social Protection, Education, Public Health, and Law Enforcement to ensure that vulnerable citizens receive coordi-nated, efficient, and effective public support when they need it most.
The new approach to integrated special social services for people in difficult life situations brings together specialists from diverse spheres to provide comprehensive and coordinated services with re-duced bureaucratic barriers. The integrated approach not only results in quicker access to services and solutions for people like Murat, but also ensures that recommendations and referrals from specialists directly respond to a diverse range of social and economic challenges.
The project is made possible by the Good Governance Initiative Fund, implemented by the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia, with the financial support of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The Fund awards grants to traditionally underserved CSOs in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan to improve governance practice through improved public service delivery, public policy, and legislation.