Measuring Social Cohesion in the Kyrgyz Republic: The Social Cohesion Index
This paper details the development of a Social Cohesion Index for the assessment of social cohesion in the Kyrgyz Republic within the framework of the “Social Cohesion through Community-Based Development” project. A concept of social cohesion was applied which understands cohesion to be made up of close social relationships, intensive emotional connectedness, and a strong orientation towards the common good. Using baseline survey data from 30 sub-districts (Ayil Aimak), exploratory factor analysis and scale standardization were carried out to calculate social cohesion scores for each sub-district and their respective villages. The results show that social cohesion generally appears to range from moderate to moderately high, however the dimensions of social networks and solidarity and helpfulness in particular can still be improved. Furthermore, correlation analysis revealed relationships between social cohesion and a number of potential determinants and outcomes, hinting at areas where the intervention project could concentrate efforts or advocacy to indirectly impact social cohesion (e.g., through paved routes into communities, improvements in the power supply, encouraging communication in multiple languages). Suggestions for future assessments of social cohesion at the project’s midline and endline are also outlined.