By Emil Danielyan
The British government has allocated 4.5 million pounds ($7 million) to improve governance and spur economic development in Armenia’s two poorest regions, officials on Tuesday.
Details of the four-year community development program encompassing the northeastern Tavush and Gegharkunik provinces were discussed by the Armenian minister for local government, Hovik Abrahamian, and the British ambassador in Yerevan, Timothy Jones. The Armenian government’s press service quoted Jones as saying that the donated funds will be spent on the reform of local government bodies and battered infrastructures that have not seen major investments since the Soviet collapse.
Abrahamian, who will coordinate the program’s implementation, said that particularly important is assistance to be given to the provincial educational and cultural institutions.
Tavush and Gegharkunik are also due to receive $16 million in environmental grants and loans from the World Bank and other Western donor agencies over the next six years. The assistance is aimed at restoring the ecological systems of the two mountainous regions by creating new jobs that will discourage local residents from resorting to illegal logging, fishing and extraction of natural resources. It will go to pay for the construction of roads, water lines and the planting of trees.
Much of Gegharkunik is covered by the ecologically endangered Lake Sevan.