About 185,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Azerbaijan will have better access to infrastructure, services, housing conditions and livelihood opportunities with help of a new World Bank-financed project.
The World Bank’s Board of Directors today approved a US$ 50 IBRD loan for the Azerbaijan IDP Living Conditions and Livelihoods Project. With the US$ 28.5 million Government contribution, the total financing for the project is estimated at US$ 78.5 million. The goal of the project is to improve living conditions and increase the economic self-reliance of the beneficiary internally displaced persons.
At present Azerbaijan has one of the highest concentrations of IDPs per capita in the world with seven percent of its population remaining displaced as a result of the conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh region. Up to 50 percent of IDPs still live in harsh conditions. "Recent research and analysis by the World Bank and Government of Azerbaijan showed that despite much investment IDPs still remain vulnerable, are more likely to be poor than non-IDPs, have worse living conditions, lower employment rates than the non displaced and rely heavily on state transfers as their main source of income”, says Joanna De Berry, head of the World Bank team which prepared the project, “The project is designed to respond to those challenges and to complement the considerable state funded programs for IDP housing provision. The project draws on experience gained from the World Bank Program on Forced Displacement and on supporting the livelihoods of rural poor globally."
The new project will build on the successful implementation of the previous IDP support projects funded by the World Bank under which more than 400 micro-projects were implemented benefiting more than 120,000 IDPs throughout Azerbaijan. This project will expand the community micro-projects, while strengthening the focus on improving housing conditions of IDPs living in public buildings and providing sustainable job opportunities to increase self-reliance of this group of population.
“The Government of Azerbaijan (GoA) and the World Bank have a twelve year partnership in promoting the development of IDPs in the country," said Asad Alam, World Bank Director for the South Caucasus, "This partnership succeeds due to the high level of commitment shown by the Government of Azerbaijan to addressing the needs of IDPs. I am pleased that this new project represents a significant scale-up in our joint work and will support not only the provision of improved housing and services, but also promote jobs and improved incomes for IDPs.”
Objectives of the project will be achieved by a number of means. This will include investing in small infrastructure and services micro-projects which IDP communities identify as their priorities. An estimated 200 micro-projects will reach a beneficiary population of between 120,000 – 150,000 persons. The project will also help rehabilitate up to 95 collective centers and thus improve housing conditions of about 30,000 persons. About 1,400 young people will receive vocational training and grants to start-up their own business. Some 200 community groups will be supported with the training and resources to establish small enterprises. As part of the income generating activities approximately 1500 micro-credits will be extended to IDPs to start up or expand their businesses.
Since joining the World Bank in 1992, the commitments to Azerbaijan total approximately US$ 2.9 billion for 43 projects.