One Year of Velvet Revolution – Time to Bridging the Gap

Poverty1

The problem of poverty that has already seized hundreds of thousands of Armenia’s population continues to remain one of the major problems that past governments didn’t tackle for many years.

Fighting poverty in the rural areas of Armenia is still a big challenge for the government   after the Velvet Revolution in April 2018. The core question to be asked is the following:  What should be done for a real rural development?

Visiting this part of the country, you will feel hopelessness in the eye of the young population. For them the solutions are as follows:  either move to the capital Yerevan to find a job or, leave to work to Russia or one of the Eurasian countries.  This creates a real problem for a country fighting for population growth.

The latest official statistics say that currently, the poverty rate in Armenia is approaching 30 percent of the total population. This equals to some 900,000 people, including 300,000 in very poor situation, while 55,000 people are in extreme poverty.

Those numbers are really scary and worrisome for a small country like Armenia. The cabinet should immediately reinforce the socio-economic programs of the villages with the contribution of the private sector as well as the intervention of the civil society accompanied by the NGOs that can build a solid coalition for a real change in  different time frame and projects delivery.
Villages in Armenia are emptying and aging, and the program to integrate communities only aggravates the situation. Bad agricultural policies and management for many years had negative impact on villages. As a result villagers’ are abandoning lands and migrating. The absence of the Civil Society caused a dramatical situation in these areas. We should support farmers to gain access to local and international markets and secure fair prices for their product and work to empower people to influence decisions affecting their lives.

In this circumstance, we should shed light on the situation of children in these areas. Many of them, instead of studying in regular schools, have to work every day to provide food for their poor families. According to statistics, about 30 percent of working children in Armenia are under 14. This unacceptable in a country that has a remarkable income from the mining sector income and represents the biggest part of the revenue from export.

The mining sector in Armenia could lead to sustainable development. But this sector needs to be developed and take into account environmental and social responsibilities, and the benefits have to be equitably shared. Economic growth is the most powerful instrument for reducing poverty and improving the quality of life in developing countries like Armenia.

Obviously, poverty creates obstacles for a decent life. Constant promised are given by different Armenian governments in power, for a better lifestyle and bright future, to the population. Currently, “My Step” party and Nikol Pashinyan’s cabinet are working strongly on significant changes and  the prime minister himself promised different occasions about tackling poverty. During 2019 he announced many statements and notifications about reforms and more recently launched an investigation into violations of Armenian law and environmental regulations by mining companies. These are, without question, positive developments. But such initiatives need more participation and cooperation from all of us. Apparently, the country is on the right track but what we need is a tangible contribution of  all stakeholders to penetrate deeply into rural areas and poor communities in all Armenian villages. This issue currently requires additional effort, contribution, and communication from all of us for a sustainable and strong Armenia.
It’s time to “Bridging the Gap“.