Living in Uncertainty: Agro-pastoral Livelihoods and Institutional Transformations in Post-Socialist Rural Kyrgyzstan
Speaker: Bernd Steimann
Date: 9 June 2011, 4 PM
Venue: University of Central Asia, 138 Toktogul Street, Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic
(The views presented in this lecture are those of the presenter and not necessarily those of the University of Central Asia or any of its staff)
Rural Kyrgyzstan experiencing widespread poverty and a considerable divide between the wealthy and the poor, despite twenty years of independence and sustained efforts to reform the rural economy. Drawing on an innovative livelihoods perspective with a focus on institutions, this lecture describes how Kyrgyz agrarian reforms of the 1990s have fundamentally altered rural property relations. Based on a study analyzing quantitative and qualitative empirical data from 2006-2009 in Naryn oblast, the lecture will discuss how the reforms have redefined the economic value and social significance of land and other resources, and the livelihood prospects of the rural population. Existing disparities between the asset-rich and the asset-poor have been reinforced, and their social relations are increasingly embedded in a poorly regulated economic system. Wealthy and powerful households have extended their property rights over land, pastures and other resources, while the less powerful struggle against various uncertainties which undermine their prospects of escaping the vicious cycle of short-term coping and resource depletion. The lecture willprovide vivid examples of the long-term effects of agrarian ‘shock therapy,’ demonstrating how the introduction of seemingly ‘robust’ institutions runs the risk of widening the existing gap between the rich and the poor.
Bernd Steimann is a Research Fellow with the Development Study Group at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. His research interests include rural livelihoods, institutional change, and governance of natural resources, including aspects of decentralization and participation. Before completing his PhD on agro-pastoral livelihoods and institutional change in Kyrgyzstan, Dr. Steimann conducted research on rural livelihoods and the role of forest resources in Northern Pakistan.
The presentation will be conducted in English. Russian translation will be provided upon prior request.