Following the political turmoil in Kyrgyzstan with interest, the only proper but still fragile democratic republic in Central Asia. I worked in Kyrgyzstan during a few years, 2014-2016, and met a people fiercely proud of their democracy. A democracy that is not easy to maintain in a country where poverty is significant (22% below the poverty line last year), and where Soviet era aspects still echo in the legal framework and in the attitudes towards power of some. We worked on using open data to overcome some of those hurdles, and I encountered hihgly motivated people everywhere, from the then prime minister and the state secretary for economic affairs, members of parliament, officials in data holding government institutions, to the local IT companies, a struggling free press clamoring for access and transparency, NGO’s, and all the way to local primary school teams wanting to use open data to better show parents which schools still have space for more pupils in their free lunch provision programs (remember, poverty). All of those I met want Kyrgyzstan to be better. To function better and more equally, to reduce corruption, to provide agency to people, to provide better public services, to get out of poverty. It seems from afar they are at a new inflection point on their still young path of democracy. Reading the headlines I think of the many people I met and their energy and intentions. I just got a message from Kiva I have room to provide more micro credits again, and will, like I do frequently for countries I’ve worked in, spend it on supporting underbanked (budding) entrepreneurs and students in Kyrgyzstan.
And then think of the fragility in democracies elsewhere, here in and adjecent to the EU.