While Kazakhstan has had considerable success in reducing its prison population over the last few years, this has led to increased pressure on the limited services supporting former prisoners. In 2011, responsibility for support services for former prisoners was decentralised from the Prison Service to the ‘akimats’ or municipalities, many of which had little knowledge about their new role. Services were often and continue to be provided by small NGOs with limited capacity to cope with increasing demand.
From 2012 to 2013, PRI Central Asia implemented a two-year project funded by the Norwegian Embassy in Kazakhstan to develop a rehabilitation system for former prisoners after release by working with central government, local municipalities and civil society.
Evaluated in late 2013, this impact evaluation assesses the project’s success against three target outcomes:
- increased awareness and access to evidence at central Government and regional municipality level
- increased capacity of government officials, akimats, NGOs and journalists on rehabilitation issues
- rehabilitative, educational, social and vocational services provided to prisoners after release.
Key findings from the evaluation, together with an assessment of PRI’s contribution, include the following.
- Evidence suggests that awareness among central government and regional akimats about the need for rehabilitation and reintegration of former prisoners increased. In particular, PRI developed a strong relationship with the Prime Minister’s Office which put pressure on municipalities to fulfil their new responsibilities and support rehabilitation services in their districts.
- Interviews by the evaluator with key informants suggest that training for journalists, municipalities, NGO service providers and staff of rehabilitation centres was of a high standard and raised awareness of the need for re-socialisation.
- While the development of sufficient and effective rehabilitation services across the country is a long-term outcome, the evaluation found that PRI’s small grants programme successfully enabled NGOs to provide important and relevant rehabilitative services to former prisoners.
This evaluation forms part of a series of evaluations being undertaken by PRI in an effort to test and develop methods to rigorously assess and effectively communicate the medium-to-long-term impact of PRI’s projects and programmes.
The evaluation was carried out by PRI’s Evaluation and Learning Adviser in October 2013 using a qualitative research methodology known as Process Tracing. Process tracing identifies target outcomes and then focuses data collection and analysis on determining the extent to which these targeted outcomes were realised and the importance of the project’s contribution to those outcomes.
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