The Azerbaijan Rural Investment Project (AzRIP) empowers rural communities in Azerbaijan to come together, identify and find solutions to the challenges they face. Launched in 2005, the project was designed to address the rapid decline in rural infrastructure and services for people living in rurual areas, about 50% of the population. It supported the government’s programs for reducing disparities in rural areas and for improving access to and quality of rural infrastructure. These programs emphasized the need for increased local responsibility in managing infrastructure and service delivery.
AzRIP drew on the resilience and strength of the community, working in partnership with the municipalities and rayon executive authorities to rehabilitate rural infrastructure - including roads, drinking water supply, irrigation and drainage, schools and kindergartens, and health facilities. In the second phase of the project (2012 -2018), livelihood pilots were introduced to provide additional income to communities.
Aynur Huseynova, head of a newly built kindergarten
AzRIP has so far benefitted over 3.5 million people in rural areas, 51% of whom are women. To date 2,000 community and livelihood projects have been implemented in 1,453 villages in fifty-six rayons. This covers 90% of municipalities and one third of the villages in the Azerbaijan. Strong working relations have been built among the three stakeholders that are key to rural development: communities, municipalities, and local governments. Local leadership has been enhanced and 430 AzRIP community leaders have been elected to municipalities.
A Geographic Information System (GIS) Map has been developed as a multifunctional tool through a three-way partnership between the World Bank, the AzRIP Project Management Unit, and the firm Blue Raster. The GIS Map is a geo-located visual presentation of the database of 2,000 community projects completed from 2005 to date. It is a user-friendly interface that is searchable by location (rayon, village and community), year of construction and infrastructure type.
The GIS Map is first and foremost a tool for communication, citizen engagement, transparency and accountability. Any citizen of Azerbaijan, or any other country, can access the Map and check out the information regarding projects in their community or in other communities of interest.
The GIS Map will be developed even further. In the next phase, more geospatial solutions for operational effectiveness will be added. This includes real-time remote supervision and monitoring and evaluation of project implementation. Engineers in the field will be able to send information, including pictures, to the AzRIP website so that it can be incorporated into the GIS Map database. The map will be overlaid with infrastructure gap and poverty data. It will also be a tool for spatial planning by local governments, which will be piloted under the new phase of the project AzRIP-3.