Tavush has always been one of the most productive regions of Armenia in terms of agriculture. However, the country’s difficult transition to free market economy, geographical remoteness, poor roads and infrastructure severely affected the area’s agricultural development, resulting in widespread poverty.
To build the capacity of rural communities to manage their assets and agricultural resources, as well as help them secure increased income Building Sustainable Livelihoods in Tavush (BSLT) project was set up in 2004 as a 3-year initiative funded by the European Union, World Vision Germany and World Vision Ireland.
The project targets rural families and farmer associations in 40 communities located close to Armenian-Azeri border, on the highlands or remote areas, as well as refugees, internally displaced and landless people.
The overall objective of BSLT project is to build the capacity of local farmer associations, businesses and community based organizations in promoting diversified and market-oriented agriculture as well as support off-farm income generating activities and community initiatives in infrastructure rehabilitation in order to improve people’s living conditions.
Communities often remain divided and inactive due to the lack of the necessary knowledge and skills to make any changes to their present situation. BSLT project supports business initiatives throughout Tavush to create jobs and conducts vocational training for the participants from rural communities.
In mid-August 2006 Vocational Education and Training, a pilot project in Ijevan, Dilijan and Noyemberyan districts of Tavush marz, was launched in cooperation with BSLT and VET -Armenia project to provide communities with employable skills for their sustainable development. Over 195 participants from different communities of Tavush benefited from three months’ training. By the successful completion of the training course participants received state certificates that would enable them to find a job later on.
A total of 55 members from 11 farmer associations participated in training of trainers with the topics ranging from bee keeping and animal husbandry to modern agricultural technologies. Training materials were developed and distributed to the participants to disseminate the knowledge among other farmers in their communities.
The project also provides selected associations with assets and animals to promote and strengthen their abilities to produce and process agricultural products. Since the beginning of the project 6 demonstration farms have been already established with an emphasis on animal husbandry, a prevailing agricultural income source for the region.
Within the scope of the BSLT project gravity based drinking water and irrigation systems have been newly installed or renovated in over 30 communities. Environmental projects have been initiated to raise awareness amongst the rural population and especially in village schools.
These activities are coordinated with other projects implemented in the scope of Tavush Area Development Program, which helps to increase the whole impact of World Vision’s work in the region.