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Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country in Central Asia, bordering Kazakhstan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It is “the most” landlocked state as it is farther away from the sea than any other country in the world. Also all Kyrgyzstan rivers flow into closed drainage systems, which waters do not reach the sea. Kyrgyzstan is a high lands country. The mountainous region of Tian Shan covers more than 80% of the country. For that reason Kyrgyzstan is often referred to as “the Switzerland of Central Asia.” 

The official capital and the largest city is Bishkek with population of about 1 million people. The second biggest city of Kyrgyzstan is Osh (500,000 people), which is also called the southern capital. 

Kyrgyzstan’s population is about 6.6 million people. The population of Kyrgyzstan is rather young. People under the age of 15 make more than 34% of total population. The country is mostly rural: only about one-third of the population live in urban areas. The average population density is 25 people per km2.

Major environmental problems in the country

Kyrgyzstan has numerous environmental problems. The country is rich in all sorts of mineral deposits, including mercury, antimony, lead, zinc, copper, uranium, etc. The wastes of the mining industry contaminated fragile mountain environment in more than 300 locations. It was assessed that there are over 250 million cubic meters of wastes at 92 currently inventoried mining sites. These wastes contain serve as the source of pollution, that in some cases contaminate populated areas and cause health problems related to toxic heavy metals and radioactive materials. Most of mining wastes are situated in river basins and since Kyrgyzstan is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes and landslides, these wastes pose high risk of trans-boundary pollution.

Another big national problem is contamination with obsolete pesticides in some location. The country does not have resources to clean up polluted areas and destroy remaining stocks of DDT, lindane, hexachlorinehexane, and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs). 

Other national problems include: scarcity of water resources in some areas, water pollution, city air pollution, household solid waste management, degradation of natural ecosystems, and other. Some global environmental problems also have a significant impact on the country, including: Global climate change, ozone layer depletion, desertification, and biodiversity loss.

Indira Zhakipova 

Kyrgyzstan Country Coordinator, Director of Communications

EHPMI Member Organization

Civil Society Association ‘Ekois Bishkek’ 

Civil Society Association ‘Ekois Bishkek’ has been operating since 2006, working on environmental issues in Kyrgyzstan and spreading information about environmental initiatives, projects, and events in Central Asia.

Ekois works on environmental and social assessments, environmental safety and risk management, awareness and education for sustainable development, involvement of stakeholders into solving problems of environmental pollution, and environment-related issues of poverty and gender.

During the last ten years Ekois has been a national partner for a number of international organizations, including UNEP, FAO, UNIDO, UNDP, Milieukontakt International, Green Cross, and Pure Earth/Blacksmith Institute.

In close cooperation with international partners, state agencies and local authorities, Ekois has implemented 20+ national projects on assessment and management of chemical wastes, obsolete pesticides, uranium tailings, and medical wastes.

Ekois is a member of the following specialized associations: IPEN, IHPA, Climate Action Network of Kyrgyzstan, Mountain Partnership, Alliance for Sustainable Development.

As a member of different expert groups and a partner of Kyrgyz Government, Ekois supports and promotes development of national policy on environment protection; Ekois represents societal interest in environment protection; develops recommendations and initiatives on improving climate change policies, develops analytical materials on toxic pollution.

Ekois website:

List of some implemented projects:
  • “Revival of the Kyrgyz Environmental Movement” 2005-2008, Hivos
  • “Green Agenda” 2006-2008, European Union
  • “Elimination of acute risk of Obsolete Pesticides in Kyrgyzstan”, 2006-2008, TMF
  • Pre-project stakeholder’s analysis “Demonstrating and Scaling Up Sustainable Alternatives to DDT for the control of vector borne diseases in Southern Caucasus and Central Asia”, January – June 2009, GEF/UNEP
  • “Obsolete Pesticides Technical Study in the Kyrgyz Republic” July– December 2009, World Bank
  • NGOs Capacity Building Aimed on Partnership with Local Authorities for Solving Ecological Problems February- November 2010, PSO
  • “Kyrgyz Political Parties Programs Compared / To Strengthen the Capacity of the Electorate to Distinguish Between Parties,” August – October 2010, ECCO
  • “Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) study course for universities of Kyrgyzstan,” 2011- 2012, OSCE office in Bishkek
  • “Demonstrating and Scaling Up Sustainable Alternatives to DDT for the control of vector borne diseases in Southern Caucasus and Central Asia”, 2011 – 2015, GEF/UNEP, Milieukontakt Intenational
  • Eliminating Adverse Effects of Medical Waste on Health and Security in Kyrgyzstan by Implementation of an Adequate Health Care Waste Management 2011-2013, Green Cross, Switzerland 
  • “Improving capacities to eliminate and prevent recurrence of obsolete pesticides as a model for tackling unused hazardous chemicals in the former Soviet Union”, EC/FAO 2012-2015 
  • “Promotion of the «Green Economy» concepts for universities and business community of Kyrgyzstan 2012- 2013,” OSCE office in Bishkek
  • “Development webinar for schoolchildren from remote mountain areas on Sustainable mountain development,” 2013- 2014, FAO, Mountain Partnership
  • “The reduction of hazardous impact of  the Suzak A burial site  of  prohibited  POP pesticides on local  residents  and  environment through by improving   the  system of  storage  and  conducting informational campaign for  population of  Jalalabad  oblast,” 2013- 2014, GEF/SGP, UNDP Kyrgyzstan 
  • “Remediation of a Legacy Lead and Zinc Mine in Sumsar, Kyrgyzstan”, 2015 –2016, FSD, Switzerland
  • “Sovetskoe, Kyrgyzstan Lead Health Risk Reduction Project,” 2016 –2018, Blacksmith Institute, USA
  • “Stakeholder Engagement for Uranium Legacy Remediation in Central Asia”, 2017- 2018, UNEP
  • “Conducting an advocacy campaign to exclude mercury-containing products that pose the greatest danger to human health and the environment in Central Asia”, May 2019- December 2019, USAID