The problem of water is one of the obstacles to the development of the villages of Qarahunj, Khndzoresk and Verishen in Goris Community, Syunik Region, Republic of Armenia. Irrigation water does not reach the soil, and drinking water is useless. These and other issues were presented to EcoLur by the local residents within the framework of "Social and Ecological Responsibility" project.
Borderline Qarahunj has two irrigation springs - the water of Vararakn River and the water of Shran waterfall. Those who use the water of the waterfall experience no problem, where the villagers who rely on the river water, are given water for only a few hours, which is often dirty. Qarahunj SHPP also draws water from the river.
Arus Hayrapetyan, a leading specialist in Public Relations, Education, Culture, Sports, Youth and Social Affairs Department at Goris Municipality, said that the orchards in Qarahunj have started to dry up due to SHPP operation. "People have to choose trees that require less water or hope for rain," she said. In reply to the question whether they had ever tried to apply to the relevant bodies regarding the lack of water, the employee of the community municipality said, "We tried to talk about why water is not sufficient. The reaction was that the company offered to buy the garden from a villager and privatize it for a penny," Arus Hayrapetyan said.
Qarahunj secondary school teacher Arman Mkrtchyan mentioned that because of "Qarahunj" SHPP operatioj, there is almost no water in Vararak River.
According to Qarahunj residents, SHPP pipelines pass through their lands, but no compensation has been paid for that. The location of some districts of the village is such that the irrigation water does not reach there at all. "Many orchards are irrigated with drinking water. If the irrigation problem is resolved, drinking water will not be used for that purpose," they said.
Another problem is that due to the lack of sewerage in the village, sewage is flooded and then irrigated. In addition, the river is polluted by household waste. According to Qarahunj Administrative Head Lusine Avetisyan, the problem can be solved by building a treatment plant.
In addition to irrigation water, the village experiences a problem with drinking water. "There is a need to rebuild the internal inter-household network and change the drinking water pipelines," Lusine Avetisyan said.
Speaking about agricultural problems, the head of the settlement mentioned that the pastures were reduced after the 44-day war, due to which the number of cattle was reduced. "On the other hand, we have a problem with the degradation of pastures – no stone collection and no fertilization is carried out to preserve at least the existing pastures.
About Qarahunj Landslide
Qarahunj Administrative Head Raised the issue of another potential landslide in the village. According to her, tree planting can mitigate the further impact of the landslide.
Perspectives of Qarahunj Development
Qarahunj has a great potential for development in parallel with all these problems, which, according to the locals, is the existence of historical and cultural monuments and the reputation of mulberry vodka.
The annual mulberry festival can be an impetus for the development of tourism in Qarahunj. "Qarahunj community has a very beautiful nature. It is especially distinguished with the cultivation of mulberry and the production of vodka. The festival is organized on the river bank, " Qarahunj resident Ani Sargsyan noted.
Speaking about the development of other branches besides agriculture, Arman Mkrtchyan mentioned the idea of creating small business programs. "Employment centers for women, a sewing workshop should be established. We need to develop strategies, special programs to be able to live, work and create in our region,” he outlined.
Qarahunj resident Suzanna Avagyan emphasized that the presence of a factory in the village or community will increase the production of mulberry vodka.
The problem of drinking water is acute in Verishen. Not only is drinking water insufficient here, it is also of very poor quality. Levon Sahakyan, Head of Syunik branch of the Writers' Union of Armenia, supposes that the drinking water is of poor quality because it comes from swamps.
Verishen residents mentioned that the water is not filtered, and the internal network needs to be repaired. "The water is very dirty, it is in a deplorable state. Our catchments are very dirty, if you want a glass of water, you can find dirt in it, especially after rain. We boil the water and drink it only in that way," the residents said.
Khndzoresk Village in Goris also experiences a water problem. Hasmik Manvelyan, a resident of the village, mentioned that the drinking water is given only for a few hours during the day, which is again dirty. "In Khndzoresk, the water is given for an hour a day, at least that hour should be clean and usable," she said. According to the resident, they often applied to the local government representatives, and the latter tried to solve the problem, but in vain.
Roza Julhakyan, an expert of "Social and Ecological Responsibility" project, said during the meeting with the residents that the development of the villages will be facilitated by the cooperation with the organizations operating in the villages, using natural resources, as a result of which it will be possible to receive support from those organizations. "It is possible for companies to sign corporate social agreements with the community to provide some assistance," said the expert.
According to Roza Julhakyan, there is also a legislative gap, due to which the community is not entitled to demand any compensation from those companies for the use of natural resources available in the administrative territory of the community. Roza Julhakyan mentioned that in the law "On targeted use of environmental tax paid by companies" it is necessary to add the provision on nature use taxes. "It can be used in the future to rehabilitate irrigation water systems," she said.
“Social and Ecological Responsibility” project is carried out by the NGOs involved in "Social-Ecological Consortium” - “Center for Community Mobilization and Support”, “Martuni Women’s Community Council”, “New Horizons”, “EcoLur” and “Forests of Armenia” NGOs within the frameworks of The Data for Accountable and Transparent Action (DATA) project.
“Data for Accountable and Transparent Action” (DATA) project is implemented by Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) in a consortium with SOCIES Expert Centre NGO (Socies), Boon TV Foundation (Boon TV), Youth Cooperation Center of Dilijan NGO (YCCD) and Sose Women Issues NGO (Sose) co-created with and supported by United States Agency for International Development.
The Data for Accountable and Transparent Action (DATA) project is made possible by the generous support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of DATA Project are the sole responsibility of “Center for Community Mobilization and Support” NGO and project partners and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, EPF, and DATA Consortium.
May 10, 2022 at 10:25