EcoLur has sent the complaint letter of 40 residents of Astghadzor community, Gegharkounik Region, to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Human Rights Defender protesting against “Infrastructure and Rural Finance Support Programme” implemented with IFAD’s loan funds. The complaint letter by Astghadzor residents say, “The residents of Astghadzor community, Gegharkounik Region, are demanding to recognize “Infrastructure and Rural Finance Support Programme” implemented with IFAD’s loaning funds as non compliant with the policy and objectives of the fund, particularly in regard to safe access to water and soil, transformation of rural communities in economic and social aspects, non compliant with the policy on gender equality and inclusion and are demanding to return the water at the expense of the IFAD.
In 2016, the water of Astghadzor river basin was directed to Zolaqar Village, Gegharkounik Region in the frames Republic of Armenia Infrastructure and Rural Finance Support Programme (IRFSP) Loan No. 2000000779 Grant No. 2000000780. As a result, the residents of Astghadzor community, who also used to use the water of the Astghadzor River, were left without water. Currently, the village us using the water from the wells, which had been drilled in the Soviet years in the course of the geological prospecting of the uranium raw materials in Armenia. IFAD assessed the project as satisfactory (see Supervision Report: https://operations.ifad.org/documents/654016/db7801b3-a3cf-43ac-aa3a-1f5862c3d1d8 ).
Nevertheless, the problem with Astghadzor Village having arisen as a result of this project implementation, witnesses that not only has the project not supported the village but just the opposite: it violates fundamental human rights, corruption risks and bears social conflicts. No public hearings have been held in the village, the risks of project impact on the socio-environmental situation of Astghadzor village residents haven't been assessed and the negative impact of the project was apparent only after its implementation when the loaning funds had already been spent.
Violation of Social and Environmental Rights:
Risks having emerged as a result of water redistribution:
· The water from the wells used by Astghadzor residents for drinking and irrigation can be dangerous for health,
· Lack of irrigation water
· Social tension
· Activation of desertification processes
As a result of water redistribution, the following green rights have been violated
• RIGHT TO LIVE IN A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT - people have been deprived of water
• VIOLATION OF ACCESS TO NATURAL RESOURCES AND VIOLATION OF RIGHT TO SUSTAINABLE USE – PRESERVATION OF WATER, SOIL, FORESTS, FLORA AND FAUNA, ECOSYSTEMS, AND LANDSCAPES - people have been deprived of water. Article 7 of Armenian Independence Declaration “The national wealth of the Republic of Armenia - the land, the earth's crust, airspace, water, and other natural resources, as well as economic and intellectual, cultural capabilities are the property of its people.”
• VIOLATION OF RIGHT TO HEALTH – good-quality water has been replaced with poor-quality water,
• VIOLATION OF RIGHT TO DAMAGES – the damage caused as a result of depriving people of water hasn't been compensated,
• VIOLATION OF RIGHT TO CHOOSE ONE'S OWN ACTIVITIES – people can't deal with agriculture because of the absence of water,
• VIOLATION OF RIGHT TO PARTICIPATION IN DECISION-MAKING PROCESS - water redistribution has been carried out without holding any discussions with Astghadzor residents and asking for their opinions,
• VIOLATION OF RIGHT TO ACCESS TO INFORMATION – water redistribution has been carried out without notifying Astghadzor residents.
As a result of project implementation, Astghadzor Village has been left without water, human rights have been violated, the main objectives and principles of the IFAD have been violated, we are demanding to recognize the project in terms of Astghadzor village as non-satisfactory and to return water to Astghadzor at the expense of the funding.'
19:08 September 03, 2018