Armenian Water Sector Adaptability Program to Climate Change Being Developed

Armenian Water Sector Adaptability Program to Climate Change Being Developed

Armenia's Water Sector Adaptability Program to Climate Change (WSAP) is being developed within the framework of UNDP-GCF “National Adaptation Plan (NAP) to advance medium and long-term adaptation planning in Armenia” project. The regular workshop on the development of WSAP took place on June 29 this year.

UNDP Climate Change Program Coordinator Diana Harutyunyan noted that as a result of the work carried out, a program approved by the Government aimed at adaptation of water resources, climate risks and long-term climate impacts will be developed.

In reply to the question asked by EcoLur, what the obstacles are or can arise on the way of the program implementation, Diana Harutyunyan said, "I see the main obstacle in the fact that making new amendments to the legal documents is a rather difficult process. Based on the results of these studies, we need to provide factual data to decision makers, to those who are developing policies to incorporate these data, to take climate change into account whenever they make amendments or develop new regulatory documents.

That is, when you know what risks lie ahead, you need to adjust your policy. That is the problem. Climate risk deepens the problems that we see, but which still need to be assessed, analyzed and predicted. There are gaps in political willpower, financial resources, technology, knowledge and capacity that need to be addressed in stages. This is like a prescription that you can use or not.

Responding to EcoLur's question on the extent to which the development of the program will help increase the efficiency of water resources management, Vahagn Tonoyan, National Advisor on Water Resources and Adaptation of the UNDP- GCF NAP project, said: "I think it will help a lot, because in different sub-sectors of the water sector we have more or less well-developed strategies, programs, measures, short-term and long-term plans, basin management plans, hydropower development concept, perspective reservoir program ...

We include the climate change component in these programs to consider that we have a vulnerability to water resources due to climate change and need to use water resources more economically. "If the program of adaptation measures is adopted, in 3-4 years we will see certain results in which direction we are moving," he said.

Touching upon the issue of cost-effectiveness of the implementation of "green" programs in the water sector, Vahagn Tonoyan noted that it is an investment for the future. "There are two different approaches to expenditures. In order to be able to justify the implementation of this measure by the Government, we must show what the costs the country will incur if it is not implemented. This assessment gives us a basis to better substantiate the measures already proposed. "We should consider this not expenditure, but an investment to avoid further costs," he said.

Florence Pintus, Team Lead at French International Office of Water said, “In carrying out the work, we must consider the 8 principles of the National Adaptation Plan, which apply to all areas. According to the first, climate vulnerability and social equality are interrelated.

The second is to promote gender approaches, the third is to take a multi-risk approach, the fourth is to balance risk reduction and development, the fifth is the ecosystem approach, the next is participation and inclusion, and then the transparency and knowledge transfer. "The last principle concerns financial decision-making and management, taking into account climate requirements," he said.

Under Florence Pintus, the overall goal of the water sector adaptation plan is to ensure that natural environmental flows are compatible with a reliable, affordable and sustainable public water supply for Armenian citizens.

National Expert at French International Office of Water Olympia Geghamyan when presenting the legal aspects of the plan development, mentioned, "Adaptation measures should be implemented on the basis of legality, transparent and accountable activities of state bodies, public involvement, non-discrimination, balancing the interests of water users, clear definition of their rights and responsibilities, effective control" as a means of guaranteeing human rights.”

Touching upon the protection of Lake Sevan, Olympia Geghamyan mentioned that an ecosystem approach can be demonstrated to improve the ecosystem of Lake Sevan and mitigate the effects of climate change. Regarding the tax legislation of the water sector, she mentioned that the water use fee rates are not adequate and substantiated.

Climate Change and Water Sector Adaptability Expert at French International Office of Water Alexander Araqelyan touched upon the technical gaps discussed within the framework of the water sector adaptation program. "The quality standards of irrigation water and treated wastewater are not defined in the country. The lack of hazard maps, digital models, operational information, early warning systems greatly hinders the effective management of disaster risks," he said.

According to Arakelyan, there are a number of scientific and educational gaps. "University programs do not include subjects on climate change and its effects. The existing scientific potential in the country is not effectively used for the development of water sector adaptation measures," he said.

Gender Expert at French International Office of Water Armenuhi Burmanyan outlined that women are the main users of domestic water and it is necessary to increase the participation of women in the water resources management system and decision-making. Regarding the issue of access to drinking water and sanitation services, the expert suggested identifying vulnerable groups, assessing their needs at the regional and community levels, and at the same time providing improved sanitation services for girls and boys in all public schools.

Under Water Resource Management Expert at French International Office of Water Liana Margaryan in the development of the water sector adaptation program in the field of agriculture it is necessary to increase water use efficiency, reduce water intake, look for alternative sources of water for irrigation, including wastewater (fish, domestic, etc.), rainwater use, fogging, water intake, as well as the definition of irrigation water quality norms.

In the field of reservoir construction, according to the expert, there is work to be done. The design packages of the constructed and planned reservoirs should include the results of the ecosystem approach and assessment of the potential vulnerability of water resources to climate change," Liana Margaryan said.

Under to the speaker, it is necessary to rehabilitate sewerage systems, collect wastewater, clean and reuse. Construction of energy-saving, affordable, easy-to-service treatment plants (as a pilot project in Sevan Basin Management Area) are based on natural solutions.

According to Liana Margaryan, changes are needed in the field of hydropower as well. "It is necessary to review "Strategic Development Plan of RA Hydropower Sector (2011)" considering the vulnerability of water resources under climate change. It is also necessary to review long-term water use permits for hydropower considering the potential impact of climate change on water resources. "As well as the introduction of innovative water-saving, energy-efficient systems for hydropower plants, the introduction of pilot hydropower plants based on the idea of ​​'minimum water intake-high energy,'" she said.

During the workshop, a special e-program evaluated the activities on each topic presented by the participants, according to priority.

July 16, 2021 at 10:49