U.S. Embassy Small Grants Program

The U.S. Mission Public Affairs Section (PAS) is pleased to solicit proposals for grants from Kazakhstani civil society and independent media organizations that focus on one of the three priority areas specified below. Applicants should pay close attention to the Public Affairs Section’s goals and target audiences when developing their proposals.

TOPIC 1: Countering Vaccine Hesitancy and COVID-19 Disinformation

Disinformation represents an existential crisis for Kazakhstan, particularly with regards to health. In a 2020 Gallup poll, only 25% of Kazakhstani citizens indicated willingness to take a COVID-19 vaccine when available, the lowest score in the world. As of December 2021, vaccination rates in Kazakhstan are only 45%, which remains low compared to comparable countries, in spite of strong scientific evidence supporting vaccine efficacy. Vaccine hesitancy remains strong even as WHO and FDA-approved vaccines become increasingly available in country.  In addition, COVID-related disinformation appears stronger in rural areas, and in Kazakh-speaking communities.  Kazakhstan’s emergence from the pandemic and longer-term stability will be dependent on access to accurate information to support health security.

Previous Mission-funded projects include the creation of an informational platform about COVID-19 in Kazakhstan, providing the most recent science-based information and guidelines for medical professionals and the general public. The Mission has also supported a social media campaign, collaborating with influencers to encourage caution before sharing possible disinformation on social media.

This funding opportunity seeks projects that will increase access to accurate information on COVID-19, discuss and promote the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and highlight how each person plays a role in helping Kazakhstan and the world overcome the pandemic.

Project Goal:  Counter disinformation by increasing access to accurate information on COVID-19 and vaccines, focusing specifically on rural and Kazakh-language communities.

Possible Project Audiences: 

  • Groups in rural areas
  • Kazakh-speaking communities

Project Objectives (Applicants may choose to address one or more of the objectives below in their proposals):   

1.     Raise awareness in at least 5000 target audience members of proper public health practices and the importance of vaccinations in combatting COVID-19

2.     Increase availability of accurate Kazakh-language materials regarding COVID-19, available vaccines, and general public health measures through a campaign with local and regional influencers

TOPIC 2: Addressing Climate Change through Methane Reduction

Climate change is a global challenge.  In particular, methane is a potent greenhouse gas and, according to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, accounts for about half of the 1.0 degree Celsius net rise in global average temperature since the pre-industrial era.  Reducing methane emissions is complementary to action on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and regarded as the single most effective strategy to reduce global warming in the near term, keeping the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach. This is why the United States and the European Union created the Global Methane Pledge, committing to a collective goal of reducing global methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.

Despite certain positive changes in legislation in recent years and a desire to move to renewable energy sources, greenhouse gas emissions in Kazakhstan are still high. Kazakhstan is the largest CO2 emitter in Central Asia and is ranked in the global top-20. The main sources of methane in Kazakhstan are from its large fossil-fuel based energy sector, specifically oil, gas and coal, from its large agriculture, and animal husbandry sector, and from waste and other anthropogenic and natural sources. Methane and CO2 emissions are sizeable, but can be addressed as many solutions that can reduce methane emissions already exist and can do so at no net cost. Nevertheless, public awareness of methane sources, impacts, and solutions in Kazakhstan are low. As of now, Kazakhstan has not joined the Global Methane Pledge.

Previous Mission-funded projects have focused on areas such as air pollution and renewable energy, but not specifically on methane.

This funding opportunity seeks projects that will develop climate-conscious behavior and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Kazakhstan, specifically addressing methane.  This approach is expected to engage citizens, academics, opinion leaders, officials, and energy, waste and agribusinesses to produce positive changes through methane emission reduction, more accurately quantify local methane levels, as well as to encourage and incentivize the Government of Kazakhstan to join the Global Methane Pledge.

Project Goal:  Decrease methane emissions in Kazakhstan by increasing the understanding of the role methane plays in climate change, supporting programs to help business reduce emissions, and increasing public support for Kazakhstan to join the Global Methane Pledge.

Possible Project Audiences:

  • Civil society activists and researchers.
  • Media professionals and opinion leaders who can amplify key messages.
  • Members of energy, agricultural/animal husbandry, and waste industries; public officials.

Project Objectives (Applicants may choose to address one or more of the objectives below in their proposals):   

1.     Raise awareness of methane emissions through outreach and training to one of the proposed project audiences

2.     Increase public understanding and support for methane reduction policies and Kazakhstan’s participation in the Global Methane Pledge through an informational campaign

3.     Increase substantive engagement between Kazakhstani civil society and local and regional authorities, as well as energy, agricultural, and waste industry representatives, on reducing methane emissions. This could include support for the development of a policy implementation framework, commitments, or pilot projects to reduce methane emissions

TOPIC 3: Strengthening Civil Society Efforts in Rural Areas

The January 2022 protests and related unrest in Kazakhstan highlighted the continued importance of supporting civil society development as the country’s democracy evolves and matures.  In particular, civil society helps to advocate for marginalized groups, a core tenet of human rights principles shared by the United States and Kazakhstan.  As concerns about income inequality have led the Government of Kazakhstan to announce ambitious economic reforms, civil society can play a key role in engaging rural communities regarding their concerns, and communicating with the government on how best to address ongoing issues.

Given this extraordinary start to 2022, the Mission is seeking projects that will engage rural communities, to help understand local challenges and identify ways to peacefully, pragmatically, and productively advocate for their needs.  Specific topics can be determined by applicants.

Project Goal:  Support rural communities in Kazakhstan through civil society efforts, to help better understand local challenges and how to pragmatically address them.

Possible Project Audience: 

Marginalized and underserved communities, specifically in rural areas of Kazakhstan.

Project Objectives (Applicants may choose to address one or more of the objectives below in their proposals):   

1. Engage specific target populations in rural communities on identifying solutions to local challenges through raising awareness and promoting advocacy

2. Increase understanding of specific economic or social challenges and concerns across rural areas in Kazakhstan through an informational campaign, and provide resources, training, and opportunities for development as appropriate

Link to Additional Information: See Related Documents

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Grants Coordinators