Astghadzor villagers in Gegharkounik Region are fighting for the restitution of their right to water.
In 2016 the water of Astghadzor river basin were distributed to Zolaqar Village in Gegharkounik Region in the frames of 'Infrastructure and Rural Finance Support Programme' funded by IFAD. Before the implementation of the project in 2016, the water of the Astghadzor River used to be provided to Zolaqar Village for 5 days and to Astghadzor for 2 days.
As a result, Astghadzor Village has to rely on the water flowing out of the wells drilled for uranium prospecting still in the Soviet years.
Water redistribution has been carried out without informing Astghadzor villagers and taking their opinions into consideration. The grounds of the redistribution were the permit issued by RA Nature Protection Ministry, the results on the quality of drinking water in Zolaqar issued by Health Ministry and the application of Gegharkounik Regional Municipality.
Risks emerged as a result of water distribution are as follows:
• The water of wells used by Astghadzor villagers for drinking water and irrigation can be harmful for health,
• Lack of irrigation water,
• Social tension,
• Activation of desertification processes.
The following 'green' rights have been violated because of water redistribution:
• VIOLATION OF RIGHT TO LIVE IN HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT - people are 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 - 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 – high-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 PARTICIPATION IN DECISION-MAKING PROCESS - water redistribution has been carried out without holding any discussions with Astghadzor residents and without asking for their opinions,
• VIOLATION OF RIGHT TO ACCESS TO INFORMATION – water redistribution has been carried out without notifying Astghadzor residents.
The following actions have been carried out for the protection of residents' rights:
- Increase in awareness of green rights among the population carried out by "EcoLur" Informational NGO and "Martuni Women's Resource Center" NGO,
- Legal consultation,
- EcoLur's correspondence with "Rural Areas Economic Development Programme Implementation Unit" of the Government Staff of the Republic of Armenia,
- Preparation of letter-applications of Astghadzor residents with the support of EcoLur" Informational NGO and "Martuni Women's Resource Center" NGO and dispatching to RA Nature Protection Ministry, RA Health Ministry, RA Gegharkounik Regional Municipality demanding to recover the rights of Astghadzor residents to water,
- Holding a protest demonstration through blocking a state highway,
- Publicizing the problem through www.ecolur.org website and social media.
Bodies in charge of this project:
- RA Nature Protection Ministry
- RA Health Ministry
- RA Gegharkounik Regional Municipality
- "Rural Areas Economic Development Programme Implementation Unit" of the Government Staff of the Republic of Armenia
- Local Self-Government Body
Astghadzor residents started getting united to protect their rights to water. People in charge of water redistribution have been identified, as well as the reasons for water redistribution. Astghadzor residents have launched a dialogue with the bodies in charge.
19:45 April 04, 2018