Local Governments Ready to Incorporate Component of Socio-Ecological Policy in Strategic Development Programs of Vardenis and Martuni Communities

Local Governments Ready to Incorporate Component of Socio-Ecological Policy in Strategic Development Programs of Vardenis and Martuni Communities

On June 23, 2022, at 11:00 am, a press conference was held on "Qyavar" TV Company in Gavar Town, Gegharkunik Region, Armenia, on the findings of "Social and Ecological Responsibility" project implemented in the target communities of Vardenis and Martuni, Gegharkunik Region. The speakers were Inga Zarafyan, President of "EcoLur" Informational NGO and Anahit Gevorgyan, President of "Martuni Women's Community Council" NGO.

The aim of "Social and Ecological Responsibility" project is to establish principles and requirements aimed at sustainable community development, nature protection, human health, raising the living standards of the population, ensuring social and ecological security of the community, protection of a person’s socio-ecological rights.

To achieve the goal, a socio-ecological policy has been developed for 6 affected communities. In Gegharkunik region, Vardenis and Martuni consolidated communities, which are under the influence of mining and alternative energy, have been selected. In particular, the impact of Sotq gold mine, a small hydropower plant, was studied, and the opinions and suggestions of local residents were collected.

"Pastures and grasslands pass under Sotq mine. After the last Artsakh war, 2/3 of the pastures passed to Azerbaijan. Residents have no other source of income, there is a risk of emptying communities. Moreover, the settlements in the territory of "Argitchi" SHPP are deprived of water, the SHPP affects the agricultural and, consequently, economic development of the villages.

Local governments are ready to include these proposals in the community's environmental, socio-economic development strategic plans. "Although those programs have already been adopted, the communities are ready to make amendments," Anahit Gevorgyan said.

"Based on the collected database, a socio-ecological policy has been developed, which will bring the relations between the affected communities, business and government to a new level. No risk reduction is carried out and no proper financial support is provided. The community has a clear position in its relations with business, it must definitely get that position and present its demands," Inga Zarafyan said.

The following questions were asked during the press conference.

To what extent have the residents been active in drafting the document?

Anahit Gevorgyan: “At the beginning of the project, we set up active support groups in the affected communities, involving people familiar with the community's problems. They have been very supportive, especially in developing the proposals."

Whether local governments are ready to include this document in community development programs?

Anahit Gevorgyan, "From the very beginning, local self-government bodies participated in the implementation of all our functions. They made proposals at roundtables and expressed their willingness to make amendments to the community's strategic plan."

What issues have the residents raised and the solution of which issues they consider to be a priority?

Anahit Gevorgyan, "The residents of the community have raised many different issues. The instrument envisages that all actions in the communities should be aimed at reducing socio-ecological risks.”

Inga Zarafyan, "Number one issue in border communities is security. There is a high level of emigration. This issue should be considered in order to consider what can be done to alleviate this issue when developing an action plan. Next is the problem of water. People live in the area of Lake Sevan basin but have no water or it is polluted."

To what extent is the problem of preserving the ecosystem of Lake Sevan presented in the draft socio-ecological policy? How can communities contribute to the preservation of the lake ecosystem?

Inga Zarafyan, "We have always raised the issue of preserving the ecosystem of Lake Sevan. When we ask that question, we get different answers. People understand how important Lake Sevan is to them."

Anahit Gevorgyan. "When Sevan rises, our houses get wet, when it decreases, our springs dry up. This is our sorrow and pain, our care and joy, our pride and happiness.”

Khosrov Khlghatyan, Editor-in-chief of the Geghama Ashkharh regional newspaper, raised the issue of the need to build reservoirs in Lake Sevan basin.

In response, Inga Zarafyan said, "The issue of reservoirs is very important for our country. We hope that our proposals will contribute to solving these problems. People must first get enough water for drinking and irrigation, only then the water must be used for energy purposes. When there is a water problem, people are put under pressure, it is already a violation of democracy. We must eliminate these violations, and for that we need political will."


"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.

June 28, 2022 at 11:15