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Armenia Fast-Track Projects Work and Bring Results

June 11, 2009


Spartak Mkrtchyan from the village of Haykavan: "Renewed roads will allow us to take our produce to the market quickly and in a better state. Besides, young people will be more inclined to go to the city for their education, and even seek employment." Open slideshow...

Photo by World Bank Staff

A package of three projects for Armenia was approved under the Fast-Track Facility in late February as an immediate response to the global economic and financial crisis: US$25 million for a Lifeline Road Improvement Project (LRIP), US$8 million and US$2 million for additional financing for the Social Investment Fund III (ASIF III) and Rural Enterprise and Small-scale Commercial Agriculture Development (RESCAD) Projects.

The Bank and the Government managed to design, negotiate, and complete all the loan arrangements within seven weeks of receiving the request. The Government then prepared and bid 25 different contracts in a record time of three months. Implementation is now underway, and results are already being seen on the ground, providing much-needed jobs during this time of crisis.

" I heard about the project not long ago, and am very glad that I was immediately hired to do work on the project. I am not only building the road that will link our village to the town, but I am also able to stay employed for the coming months, and sustain my family. "

Artem Hakobyan

from the village of Meghrashat

Akhuryan is a community of villages, including Meghrashat, outside of the city of  in the Shirak region of . Despite being in close proximity to the main highway and to Gyumri, the second largest city in the country, Akhuryan’s villages are almost isolated – roads connecting them to the city and the main highway had been left in desperately poor condition since the devastating earthquake of 1988. As a result, the villagers are often forced to live a self-sustained life, having minimum contact with the city or other parts of the country. The produce they sometimes risk to take to the city market to earn a day’s living would spoil on the barely drivable roads, where seven km per hour was the maximum travel speed.

With the  project already under implementation, by November this year Akhuryan’s villagers will be connected to the city and the main highway, via safe, speedy, modern roads. In addition, the community members have been actively involved in the works – over 400 people are currently employed as community workers on the roads in Akhuryan.

Like Artem, Spartak Mkrtchyan from the , was unemployed before the launch of the project – agricultural produce was the only source of sustaining his family. "Renewed roads will allow us to take our produce to the market quickly and in a better state," said Spartak. "Besides, young people will be more inclined to go to the city for their education, and even seek employment."

Works under the  project have started in all of the planned seven regions of, and the number of people employed in community works is growing day-by-day. An estimated 7,650 people per month will be involved in the community works. By November, a network of over 100 km of roadways will connect 39 rural communities and some 71,000 people to main highways and towns.

The additional financing for RESCAD will add seven rural communities to the original 134, to scale up the Community-focused Economic Development (CED) component. Of these seven communities, two will benefit from gasification, and five from water supply system improvements. Works on the ground in all these seven communities will already start next week.

Moreover, the additional financing has made it possible to cover the gap created by the exchange rate fluctuations. Otherwise, 35 out of the overall 134 communities would have been left out of implementation. As a result, works are already underway in all 35 communities. By the end of the year, all of them will have their priority infrastructure – drinking water, gasification, irrigation, and sewerage – built or their income generating projects – agricultural machinery, rural bus service, milk collection coolers, flour mills – completed.

Vahagnadsor is a small isolated village community of 365 people in the Lori region of . A community settled around a former rail station, Vahagnadsor lacks agricultural lands, and has no means of income. The village school building for 64 students dates back to 1930, and is virtually in ruins. Works have already started under the additional financing for ASIF III, to rehabilitate the building with the direct involvement of villagers, giving them jobs for the medium-term, as well as the satisfaction of building the school for their own children.

Owing to the additional resources, it is now possible to add 32 micro-projects in 24 communities, for social and economic infrastructure rehabilitation ranging from renovation of schools with heating, specialized schools, sports facilities, community centers, and potable water in homes, to the rehabilitation of irrigation systems. Work has started in 16 communities, the other 16 soon to complete the tenders – already generating 68,000 job days of the 86,000 overall job days planned.