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Life in Limbo: Inside Bishkek's Illegal ‘New-Builds’

Hundreds of thousands fled their villages for novostroika slums on the edge of the Kyrgyz capital when the collapse of the Soviet Union killed collective farming. Twenty five years on, the government has reluctantly connected some to water and electricity – but few have sewerage systems or schools. (Photo: Danil Usmanov)

A Eurasianet partner post from The Guardian

Hundreds of thousands fled their villages for novostroika slums on the edge of the Kyrgyz capital when the collapse of the Soviet Union killed collective farming. Twenty five years on, the government has reluctantly connected some to water and electricity – but few have sewerage systems or schools.
 
It is a sharp descent from Kurbangul Kyrgyzbayeva’s ramshackle home into the narrow pit where she grows corn, tomatoes and chives. Crooked steel bars and smashed bricks line the shallow, hand-hewn mud steps.
 
When Kyrgyzbayeva bought the plot on which she lives, on the northern edge of Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, there was little there other than a mound of earth and piles of building site refuse in a disused quarry.
 
It was 2007, two years after illegal squatters had claimed the surrounding area, now a neighbourhood called Ak-Zhar.
 
Kyrgyzbayeva immediately set to work on her own, building a home of clay and hay for herself and three children. For a couple of years, the family lived between bare walls under a tarpaulin.
 

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A Eurasianet partner post from The Guardian

Life in Limbo: Inside Bishkek's Illegal ‘New-Builds’

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