Kazakhstan’s previous capital city, Almaty, lies in the south-east of Kazakhstan at the foot of the Tien Shan Mountain range and remains the largest city with a population exceeding 2 million people.
While most people in the city work in financial services or in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector, the surrounding area is rural, where half of the population lives off agriculture.
Salaries paid in the city are amongst the highest in the country, but the benefits of the economic development are not equally distributed throughout the city´s population.
Since 1997, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Almaty.
The majority of Kazakhstan’s unemployed population - that is 58% - lives in cities. In Almaty, the unemployment rate is estimated to be above the national average, exceeding 6%. This is thought to be the result of urban migration where rural families move to cities in search of better prospects. But, in many cases, they do not have the skills that are needed, and they cannot find employment.
As a result, children in families living in poverty survive precariously on the margins of society, in, or at risk of falling into, poverty where their basic needs can no longer be met.
Around one quarter of all children who live in institutions in Kazakstan have biological parents. But, for a variety of reasons, the children cannot live with them.
Children with disabilities are particularly at risk: social norms and a lack of support mean these children are often not well cared for at home. They are therefore placed into state institutions. But here they at risk of isolation, physical violence, forced sedation, and neglect. Receiving little education, as well as facing poor treatment, these children are left without adequate skills and support for life outside of the institutions.