YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–A delegation from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development was in Armenia early this week to review the progress of UK funded regional development program that has been carrying out activities in two of Armenia’s rural provinces.
During the three-day working visit that began on Monday, the delegation met with Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration Vache Terteryan. The delegation also traveled to the Tavush and Gegharkunik provinces, where they met with the regional administrations, local NGOs and the media. A meeting was later held with Head of the European Commission Delegation to Armenia Ambassador Raul de Luzenberger.
Since its establishment in 2003 by the UK DFID, the Armenian Regional Development Project (ARDEP) has focused on developing regional administrative capabilities in Armenia’s Tavoush and Gegharkunik provinces. The ARDEP, which falls under the framework of the Armenian Government’s Poverty Reeducation Strategy has helped the regional administrations of the two provinces increase their capacity to develop and implement poverty reduction programs. It has also worked to influence national policy on the regions.
The UK-Armenia Memorandum of Understanding Steering Committee held a meeting during the working visit to evaluate and sum up the overall activities, and future plans of ARDEP.
According to the ARDEP, it is unique among other rural development programs in Armenia because it listens to the needs of the local population to assess existing problems and formulate development policy. In order to find the right way of reducing poverty it is important to understand its nature and roots, which are inevitably more visible for the population with the lowest living standards.
The most significant achievement of the Armenia Regional Development Project, according to its press office, is the RDP monitoring and evaluation system implemented by the structural departmen’s of the two provinces’ regional administrations. In addition, an important role in the process is assigned to local NGOs as they are involved the in the monitoring process.
The first phase of ARDEP ended with the completion of Regional Development Programs for Tavush and Gegharkunik, which were launched by the Armenian Government in February 2005. Under the second phase of the project, DFID has provided funding to the Armenian Government of ?1 million per province to act as seed money for the implementation of the regional development programs. Currently the project is in its 3rd phase. The development plans are in the processes of review and revision for the next strategic period (2008-2010).
The ARDEP is finalizing its activities for 2008 and discussing the implementation of similar regional development projects in Armenia’s other provinces. This project is being undertaken by the Ministry of Territorial Administration through the development of the "Strategy for the institutional structure of planning and implementing regional development projects," already presented for discussion to the Armenian Government, as well as through negotiations with the EU and other donor organizations, such as the EU "New Neighborhood" project and Asian Development Bank projects.