Turkmenistan has so far not played a major role in international development cooperation. The main reason for this is the deep-rooted distrust of the Turkmenistan government towards the interference of international organizations in internal affairs. As a result, very few organizations were active in the country during Niyazov’s presidency. Since President Berdimuhamedov came to power, their number has decreased further. Doctors Without Borders and the US Peace Corps are among the most famous organizations that have left the country since then. In a detailed analysis of the possible strategies for action already prepared in 2006 The development cooperation with Turkmenistan deals with the problems, risks and possible starting points of work in the country as well as the successes and deficits of previous projects.
The sum of the funds of international development cooperation spent annually for Turkmenistan is around 5 dollars per capita (for comparison: in Kazakhstan this figure is around 90 dollars and in Uzbekistan it is around 12 dollars).
According to health-beauty-guides, Turkmenistan describes itself as highly developed and therefore sees no need for measures to reduce poverty.
International development cooperation
The locally active donor organizations work primarily in the areas of agriculture and environmental and nature conservation. These include:
- The World Bank with around US $ 30 million per year (for comparison: Kazakhstan around US $ 1.25 billion per year; Uzbekistan: around US $ 310 million per year).
- USAID (US Agency for International Development) between 1992 and 2005 with a total volume of around US $ 34 million (for comparison: Kazakhstan: around US $ 275 million; Uzbekistan around US $ 85 million). The few and comparatively small projects pursued in Turkmenistan expired in 2017.
- Due to ongoing difficulties in cooperation the number stagniet of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Turkmenistan pursued projects for several years at very low levelsa result of these Persistent difficulties, since 2003 no turkmenistan specific report on the Millennium Development Goals or the Sustainable Development Goals published.
- From the Freedom Support Act dollars were supported in Central Asia in the period 1992 to 2005 Projects worth a total of about 1.15 billion US. Turkmenistan accounted for about US $ 60 million of this.
- The Asian Development Bank has been operating in Turkmenistan since 2000. However, the work of the bank was in fact largely suspended from 2000 to 2012. Only since Turkmenistan has become increasingly dependent on loans from the bank and a certain compliance is necessary in order to obtain them, has Turkmenistan shown willingness to approve bank projects (particularly in the areas of infrastructure and energy).
- As part of the Development Cooperation Instrument (EZI), the European Union made a total of 5.5 million euros available for activities in Turkmenistan in 2017. For comparison: between 2007 and 2010, of the 321.5 million euros made available for Central Asia, around 23.5 euros (around 7.3%) went to Turkmenistan. For the period 2011-2013, the value had increased to 31 million euros (from 321 million euros, corresponding to 9.6%).
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is not involved in projects in Turkmenistan (the only country in Central Asia). Cooperation is currently limited to occasional visits by the IMF to Turkmenistan and Article IV missions to study the country’s economic and financial policies. As far as is known, Article IV of Turkmenistan has not yet hindered IMF consultations.
An overview of the international organizations active in Turkmenistan can be found in the corresponding Resource Guide of the US Embassy in Ashgabat.
German development and aid organizations
Turkmenistan is one of the countries with which the BMZ cooperates within the framework of focused regional or thematic cooperation. There is no bilateral country program.
According to the latest available figures on the total volume of German development cooperation with Turkmenistan, a total of 136 projects with a total volume of around 13.5 million US dollars were financed between 2000 and 2011. The focus was on projects for tertiary education and forestry (especially along the Kopet Dag Mountains), which together are responsible for more than 99.5% of the expenditure. Only Equal Guinea, Belize, Bhutan, Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Suriname and Swaziland had a lower total in the comparison period.
GIZ is one of the few German organizations currently active in Turkmenistan – for example with its project on cross-border water management in Central Asia (including Turkmenistan, 2009-2017) on behalf of the Federal Foreign Office. This is still represented with an office in Ashgabat. Due to its long-standing activities in the country of the wide range of previously pursued projects and regional plans, GIZ is one of the organizations with the greatest wealth of experience in successfully initiating and implementing projects under local conditions. A current project to promote the rule of law in Central Asia, which will run until 2018, includes Turkmenistan.
In addition, the Succow Foundation is one of the most active and committed organizations involved in international development cooperation in Turkmenistan. This supports the development of the national parks and is represented with a project on site.
Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Development in Transition Economies carried out a research project on the development of agricultural reforms in Turkmenistan, which touched all Central Asian countries. The follow-up project (2017 – 2019), which is partly based on this, is also funded by the BMBF – again as the only project of the ministry with the participation of Turkmenistan partners.
The German Chamber of Commerce (delegation of German business for Central Asia) maintains a Turkmenistan- focused website, on which it regularly publishes information on economic cooperation with Turkmenistan as well as news with business-specific content.
The Sparkassenstiftung has also been active in Turkmenistan for a number of years. In addition to the bank-focused intercultural exchange of experience, the main focus of the work is on training programs for the introduction of dual vocational training for customer advisors in Turkmenistan banks.