The USAID-funded Central Asia Media Program aims to develop a more balanced information environment in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to increase openness among youth and adults for differing ideas, opinions and perspectives, and, in turn, increase their civic participation. The five-year, $15 million program is implemented by Internews from October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2023.


The Central Asia Media Program works with partners from Central Asian media, academia and civil society to improve content quality and audience engagement across traditional and “new” media platforms; strengthen media outlets’ financial sustainability and the professionalism of journalists, bloggers and citizen reporters; increase the wider public’s media literacy; and strengthen the legal and regulatory enabling environment for the media in Central Asia. Local partners’ needs and feedback drive the design of program activities and offers a flexible and adaptive approach in a rapidly changing media, information and socio-economic landscape. The program also capitalizes on the region’s “youth bulge” by increasing production and consumption of digital media to spark innovation, help local media reach new audiences and build openness to pluralistic perspectives.


  • Improve local and national media’s capacity to provide balanced, informed and unbiased reporting on key policy and public interest issues; 
  • Increase media and information literacy among youth and adults so they become more critical consumers and producers of information; and 
  • Improve the legal enabling environment for the media.


Through the Central Asia Media Program, Internews and its partners have trained over 2,050 journalists and media professionals from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in the first three and a half years of the program and provided assistance to 160 non-state-funded news outlets and individual journalists and civil society organizations (CSOs) to produce over 3,900 pieces of local content in diverse and engaging formats which offered timely, socially-important information in Russian, Kazakh, Tajik and Uzbek. Nearly 6,100 people from the three target countries have participated in media literacy activities, media literacy schools, festivals and training courses at Media and Digital Literacy Houses (centers for media and digital literacy education, promotion and engagement), which help them to treat information critically. In the 2020-2021 academic year, 29 universities in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan used modules from Internews’ Media Literacy Manual in Russian, Kazakh and Tajik to instruct over 1,500 students in media literacy and journalism courses. Internews also provided capacity building and technical assistance to nine media support organizations in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan to improve their advocacy work, strengthen self-regulatory measures within the media community and ensure media representatives’ involvement in important relevant legislative decision-making.

The Central Asia Media Program’s direct support to local partners in Years 1- 4 includes:

  • Thirty-seven rapid-response projects for media and journalists to continue operating during the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis and to produce vital news content about the public health situation, with approximately 25.4 million total views across all projects. 
  • A total of 149 content production projects on important and under-covered issues such as youth issues, gender-based violence, poverty, education, the environment and people with disabilities. 
  • Major events that served as educational and networking platforms for hundreds of media professionals, CSO representatives, journalism teachers, media literacy educators and civic activists, including Regional Media Literacy Eduthons, Inclusive Content and Business Labs and the annual Central Asian Media Festival and Journalism Award. 
  • Creation of a network of more than 115 citizen reporters in 35 urban centers and rural areas across Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, who produced over 1,000 pieces of content on local issues for 24 partner media outlets. Some reports triggered action by local authorities to improve the situation or resolve problems covered in their articles. 
  • A total of 26 collaborative projects between media outlets and CSOs in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan which raised awareness about and stimulated involvement in socially important community activities such as participation in local governance, volunteering, mentoring of children from disadvantaged families and consumers’ rights. 
  • Promoting nine positive changes to legislation in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan and improving the capacity of four major media associations to serve as support networks for the media community, leading to improved self-regulation of the media through the development of the Basic Principles of Media in Kazakhstan (signed by almost 500 journalists and media representatives), and in Tajikistan the establishment of a network of 11 Ethics Commissioners (Ombudsmen) within 16 media outlets (now working for over two years) and the adoption of a revised Ethical Code of Journalistic Activities. 
  • Preparation of 18 analyses of changes to media legislation in Uzbekistan to promote awareness and monitoring of freedom of speech and expression issues.

Madina Kusmoldanova, Agreement Officer’s
Representative, USAID/Central Asia
Nurzhan Beisembaev, Regional Program Officer
Internews Network

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