After Almost Two Decades of Successful Programs
YEREVAN, October 24, 2012 – “Evolution Perspectives of the Social Investment Funds of Armenia and Moldova”, a two day workshop, on October 24-25, initiated by the Government of Armenia and the World Bank, with participation of Government officials from Armenia and Moldova, practitioners from Georgia, Ukraine, Russia, local authorities, experts from the World Bank and other donors will share practices, present international experiences, and brainstorm on the perspectives of the Funds.
The Armenian Social Investment Fund (ASIF) was established with the technical and financial support of the World Bank in the mid-90s and since then has provided significant assistance in rehabilitation of social and economic infrastructure of the country, contributing to the development of the needy communities. Since 1996, three projects have been designed and implemented including the ongoing SIF III project that will be closed in June 2014 with the total amount of $US 83 million.
The ASIF has supported about 850 community-driven micro-projects. Community-cultural centers; schools, kindergartens, health care centers; potable water supply and irrigation systems, etc. have been implemented in over 40 urban areas and about 330 rural communities.
“The main strength of ASIF is in its approach to enable local communities to identify their own investment needs,” said Mr. Jean-Michel Happi, World Bank Country Manager for Armenia. “While this creates much needed jobs in the short, the success also in the long run will depend on how well local communities are able to sustain their operations and maintenance and generated additional investments for new projects.”
Due to close collaboration between the Government, Local Authorities and the ASIF, the micro-projects are attracting new resources from Diaspora organizations/individuals, private sector and others. Besides, different donors are interested in collaboration with the ASIF for implementation of community development and social assistance programs which are beyond the Fund’s current agenda. Those programs would take advantage of the ASIF’s strong capacity with extensive experience and accumulated skills in community work, ability to attract resources and utilize them efficiently in the short period of time, availability of fiduciary, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.
“We think that the frame of Fund’s further activities should include new sectors based on the long-lasting experience, tested mechanisms of project implementation, image of a trusted social partner. This will help the communities to establish participatory and continues mechanisms of solving existing social problems, as well as develop and implement development programs focused on creating employment, boosting businesses, organizing community life and improving living standards of communities,” said Armen Gevorgyan, Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia.
The key outcomes of the ASIF’s projects include:
- Strengthened capacity of the local authorities, community councils and beneficiaries in management of micro-projects;
- Enhanced community involvement in decision making through ensuring community members active participation by introduction of two-stage promotion and monitoring mechanism of the micro-project’s identification and implementation;
- Promoted activities aimed at equalizing communities’ chances to benefit from the SIF projects through community mapping followed by decision on fair distribution of funds on the basis of communities’ vulnerability.
- Mitigated the effects of the financial crisis in target communities through implementation of the rapid response projects, and as a result of the latter to create temporary and permanent new jobs. The last study showed that 50 percent of individuals temporary recruited under the ASIF’s micro-projects have managed to be got a permanent job afterwards.
It is expected that group discussion and brainstorming sessions of the workshop will in the end advise on possible scenarios for Fund’s evolution perspectives, promote cooperation and constructive dialogue between the different players, as well as create solid background for development of a strategy on the future of the SIF.