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COUNTRY PROFILES

 


Armenia

Geography and population

With a total area of 29 800 km2, Armenia is the smallest country of the FSU. It is a landlocked country, located south of the Caucasus mountains. It is bordered in the north by Georgia, in the east by Azerbaijan, in the south by Iran and in the west by Turkey. A part of Azerbaijan is located to the southwest of Armenia and bordered by Turkey, Armenia and Iran. Until 1995, the country was divided into 37 districts. It is now divided into ten marzes (provinces) plus the Yerevan municipality, which is the capital of Armenia.

TABLE 1

Basic statistics and population

Physical areas:      
Area of the country

1994

2 980 000

ha
Cultivable area

1995

1 391 400

ha
Cultivated area

1995

408 147

ha

    - annual crops

1995

346 413

ha

    - permanent crops

1995

61 734

ha
Population:      
Total population

1996

3 638 000

inhab.
Population density

1996

122

inhab./km2
Rural population

1996

31

%
Economically active population      
engaged in agriculture

1996

15

%

    of which: - men

 

-

%

    - women

 

-

%
Water supply coverage:      
Urban population

1994

100

%
Rural population

1994

95

%

 

The average altitude of the country is 1 800 m above sea level, ranging from 380 to 4 090 m (Mount Aragat). More than 90% of the country lies above 1 000 m and 72% above 1 500 m. The landform in the centre and north of the country comprises rocky high mountain ranges separating narrow fertile valleys. Towards the south are the broad, flat and fertile Ararat valleys along the left bank of the Araks River forming the border with Turkey. To the west and north of Mount Aragat and around Lake Sevan in the east, the landform is generally rolling with rocky outcrops. In the southeast, a few small irregular-shaped valleys are surrounded by high mountain ranges.

Agriculture is greatly influenced by the topography, most of the cultivated land lying within an altitude range of 600-2 500 m. The cultivable area is estimated at almost 1.4 million ha, which is 47% of the total area of the country. In 1995, the cultivated area was estimated at 408 147 ha, of which 346 413 ha were occupied by annual crops and 61 734 ha by permanent crops.

Official figures on the progress of privatization indicate that by the end of 1993 about 87% of the land so earmarked had already been privatized. Individual private farms have become the dominant form of farming. At the end of 1994, there were nearly 300 000 private farms with holdings averaging less than 2 ha.

The total population is about 3.64 million (1996), of which 31% is rural. The average population density is 122 inhabitants/km2. In 1994, agriculture employed 15% of the economically active population and its contribution to GDP was 41%.

See map of Armenia

 

TABLE 2

Water: sources and use

Renewable water resources:      
Average precipitation  

526 

mm/yr
   

15.67

km3/yr
Internal renewable water resources  

9.071

km3/yr
Total (actual) renewable water resources

1997

10.529

km3/yr
Dependency ratio

1997

13.9

%
Total (actual) renewable water resources per inhabitant

1996

2 894 

m3/yr
Total dam capacity

1993

1 155 

106 m3
Water withdrawal:      

    - agricultural

1994

1 940

106 m3/yr

    - domestic

1994

865

106 m3/yr

    - industrial

1994

120

106 m3/yr
Total water withdrawal  

2 925

106 m3/yr

    per inhabitant

1994

825

m3/yr

    as % of total (actual) renewable water resources

 

27.9 

%
Other water withdrawal

1994

200

106 m3/yr
Wastewater - Non-conventional sources of water:      
Wastewater:      

    - produced wastewater

1994

817

106 m3/yr

    - treated wastewater

1994

415

106 m3/yr

    - re-used treated wastewater

1994

0.1 

106 m3/yr
Agricultural drainage water  

-

106 m3/yr
Desalinated water  

-

106 m3/yr

Climate and water resources

Climate

Depending on altitude, Armenia enjoys a variety of climatic conditions. The Ararat valley is characterized by hot dry summers and cold dry winters, with a total annual precipitation of 200-300 mm. Precipitation increases towards the mountains, up to 1 000 mm on Mount Aragat. It is highest from April to June and lowest from December to February. The average precipitation for the country is estimated at 526 mm/year.

River basins and water resources

Armenia lies wholly within the Kür (Kura) River basin. The basins of the tributaries flowing directly to the Kür River cover less than 25% of the country in the northeast. Here the outflow to Georgia through the Debet River is estimated at about 0.890 km3/year and the outflow to Azerbaijan at about 0.555 km3/year. The Araks River, which forms the border between Turkey and Armenia and further downstream between Iran and Armenia, flows into Azerbaijan where it joins the Kür River about 150 km before its mouth at the Caspian Sea. The total outflow to Azerbaijan through the tributaries of the Araks River (Arpa, Vorotan, Vokhchi) is estimated at about 1.791 km3/year.

The RSWR originating inside the country are estimated at 6.271 km3/year and the internal renewable groundwater resources at 4.200 km3/year. The overlap between surface water and groundwater is estimated at 1.400 km3/year. This results in 9.071 km3 of total annual IRWR. The border flow of the Araks River between Turkey and Armenia is estimated at 1.929 km3/year; that of the Akhuryan River, also between Turkey and Armenia, at 0.986 km3/year. Half of these flows, or 1.458 km3/year, is accounted for in Armenia's water balance. The total ARWR are thus estimated at 10.529 km3/year, of which 7.729 km3 surface water, 4.200 km3 groundwater and 1.400 km3 overlap.

TABLE 3

Irrigation and drainage

Irrigation potential

1993

653 651

ha
Irrigation:
1. Full or partial control irrigation: equipped area

1995

285 649

ha

    - surface irrigation

1995

257 949

ha

    - sprinkler irrigation

1995

27 500

ha

    - micro-irrigation

1995

200

ha

    % of area irrigated from groundwater

1994

12.1

%

    % of area irrigated from surface water

1994

87.9

%

    % of area irrigated from non-conventional sources

1994

0.0

%
% of equipped area actually irrigated

1995

60.4

%
2. Equipped wetland and inland valley bottoms (i.v.b.)  

-

ha
3. Spate irrigation  

-

ha
Total irrigation (1+2+3)

1995

285 649

ha
- as % of cultivated area  

70.0

%
- increase over last 10 years

1985-95

minus 3.9

%
- power irrigated area as % of irrigated area

1995

45.0

%
Full or partial control irrigation schemes:      
Large-scale schemes  

-

ha
Medium-scale schemes  

-

ha
Small-scale schemes  

-

ha
Total number of households in irrigation  

-

 
Irrigated crops:      
Total irrigated grain production

1995

135 000

t

    as % of total grain production

1995

52

%
Harvested crops under irrigation

1995

172 578

ha

    - permanent crops: total

1995

55 000

ha

    - annual crops: total

1995

117 578

ha

    . potatoes and fodder

1995

32 600

ha

    . wheat

1995

31 000

ha

    . barley

1995

28 000

ha

    . vegetables

1995

21 000

ha

    . other annual crops

1995

4 978

ha
Drainage - Environment:    
Drained area

1994

60 400

ha
- drained area in full or partial control irrigated areas  

-

ha
- drained area in equipped wetland and i.v.b.  

-

ha
- other drained area  

-

ha
- area with subsurface drains

1994

11 620

ha
- area with surface drains

1994

48 780

ha
Drained area as % of cultivated area  

14.8

%
Power drained area as % of total drained area

1994

4.6

%
Area salinized by irrigation

1994

33 700

ha
Population affected by water-borne diseases  

-

inhabitants

Lakes and dams

Lake Sevan

The largest lake in Armenia is Lake Sevan, located in the east of the country. It lies at 1 925 m above sea level, which makes it a strategic source of energy and irrigation water. The level of the lake, originally with a surface area of about 1 414 km2 and 58 km3 of stored water, has fallen since the 1930s due to the lake's increasing use for irrigation, hydropower and domestic water supply. By 1972, its level had fallen by almost 19 m and its surface area had been reduced to 1 250 km2. Since 1972, unforeseen changes in the lake's ecology (loss of fish population), water quality (entrance of sewage) and microclimate (freezing of the lake in winter) have occurred. The government attempted to raise the water level of the lake again through reduced water take-off (for example, no water use for hydropower production during winter since 1978); the construction of pumping stations; and inter-basin water transfer: from the Arpa and Vorotan rivers, through the Arpa-Sevan link (constructed) and the Vorotan-Arpa link (under construction), and from the Debet River, through the Debet-Sevan link (planned). The measures met with initial success and the lake rose about 1 m between 1978 and 1990. However, demands on the water increased more rapidly at the beginning of the 1990s, when electricity was again generated during the winter. This resulted in the 1 m gained being lost again. Work has begun on the construction of more pumping stations and balancing reservoirs to raise the level of the lake. Especially because of the present energy shortages in the country, the construction of balancing reservoirs is both important and urgent, as year-round hydropower production from Lake Sevan is mining its water at an alarming rate without the possibility of winter water being stored for irrigation in the summer. If stored, some of this water would then allow summer releases from Lake Sevan to be reduced by some amount depending upon electricity requirements in the summer.

Dams

In 1995, the total capacity of reservoirs was estimated at 1 155 million m3, of which 1 108 million m3 was stored in reservoirs behind dams with a capacity of over 5 million m3 each. Most water is used for irrigation. About 145 million m3 is used for municipal and industrial purposes. The largest reservoir is on the Akhuryan River, which forms the border with Turkey. It has a storage capacity of 525 million m3, is shared with Turkey, and provides water for the irrigation of about 30 000 ha in Armenia. New dams, under construction or identified, could store an additional almost 1 000 million m3 of water.

Water withdrawal and wastewater

In 1994, the total water withdrawal for agricultural, domestic and industrial purposes was 2 925 million m3, of which 66% for irrigation purposes (Figure 1). Since the mid-1980s, there has been a decrease in the total water withdrawal, mainly due to a decrease in agricultural and industrial water withdrawal (Figure 2). Around 200 million m3 of water was estimated to be necessary for fisheries, recreation and power generation.

The total quantity of produced wastewater in 1994 amounted to 817 million m3, of which 415 million m3 was treated and only 0.1 million m3 re-used.

 

Irrigation and drainage development

Irrigation development

Irrigation in Armenia started about 3 000 years ago. Clay pipes were used to transport water to orchards and fields and some are still intact. In the fourth century A.D. the total irrigated

area was estimated at about 100 000 ha, in 1920 it had dropped to 61 000 ha, and in 1988 the area equipped was almost 316 000 ha. At present, the area equipped for full or partial control irrigation is estimated at almost 286 000 ha (Figure 3). The reason for the decrease in recent years has been, on the one hand, the earthquake of 1988 that destroyed part of the area, and on the other, the difficult economic situation due to the transition period, that has made it difficult to keep or maintain the irrigation infrastructure. The major irrigation schemes are located on the left bank of the Araks River.

On over 90% of the area equipped for irrigation, surface irrigation is practised. This surface irrigation can be divided into four categories: furrow irrigation; borderstrip irrigation; flooding; and irrigation using hydrants and flexible hose systems (Figure 4). Flooding is used where soil depth does not permit grading of either furrows or borderstrips. The water is let out over the land by cutting an irrigation head canal at intervals. In the case of irrigation using hydrants, the hydrants are generally spaced in a 50 x 50 m grid and discharge water onto the ground, from where it is distributed by any of the surface irrigation methods. Conveyance of water to the hydrant is by buried steel pipes, but may be by open canals further upstream. Sprinkler irrigation and micro-irrigation are practised on the remaining 10% of the area equipped for full or partial control irrigation.

On 12% of the equipped area, groundwater is used for irrigation. The remaining part is irrigated from surface water through reservoirs, river diversion or pumping in rivers (Figure 5).

The irrigation potential has been estimated at 653 651 ha. Figure 6 shows the irrigation potential by province, the area equipped for irrigation, and the irrigated cropped area. In 1995, 44% of the irrigation potential had already been equipped for irrigation in the country, while a little over 60% of the area equipped for irrigation was actually cropped. In 1994, the area salinized by irrigation was estimated at 33 700 ha.

In 1995, almost one-third of the irrigated area was occupied by permanent crops, mainly grapes. Cereals, mainly wheat and barley, covered a little over one-third of the irrigated area (Figure 7).

Drainage development

The total drained area increased from 6 900 ha in 1975 to 60 400 ha in 1994, with a major increase from 1989 onwards (Figure 8). Most of the drainage is surface drainage.

Institutional environment

The most important institutions involved in water resources development and management are:

· The Ministry of Food and Agriculture with:

· The Ministry of Environment and Groundwater:

· The Ministry of Urban Development:

The Administration of Hydrometeorology is involved in the study of the water bodies (rivers, lakes, ponds, etc.).

Trends in water resources management

Much of Armenia's agriculture is based on irrigation. At present, 70% of the cultivated area is equipped for irrigation. However, the irrigation systems are in a deteriorating condition, which may lead to extreme environmental damage. Almost 70% of the equipped area needs rehabilitation. In addition, the management of irrigation systems requires adjustments to meet the needs of the recently privatized farms. According to a World Bank country study, the rehabilitation of critical water infrastructure facilities and the adjustment of irrigation management practices should receive very high priority.

The overall water use efficiency, from water source to crop, is estimated to be less than 35% for gravity systems. Potentially, with large savings along the existing irrigation systems and the development of new, non-utilized water resources, much more land could be irrigated. The World Bank has proposed several measures to increase the efficiency of the irrigation system: the setting up of pilot projects to test alternative delivery unit sizes; water meters and field distribution systems; and the organization of WUAs to be responsible for operating and maintaining facilities associated with their members' farms. All institutions related to irrigation use should then be directed to improving their services to the water users.

From an environmental perspective, the restoration of Lake Sevan's ecosystem is very important and should take priority.

Main sources of information

Department of Statistics of the Republic of Armenia. 1995. Summarized data.

FAO. 1993. Irrigation subsector review and project identification report. FAO Investment Centre/ World Bank cooperative programme. Report No 79/93 CP - ARM 2. 66p. + 3 annexes.

Hayjirnackhagits Institute. 1993. The program of utilization of water resources within the Republic of Armenia. Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Ministry of Food and Agriculture of the Republic of Armenia. The annual reports of `Hayjirthyt' 1975, 1980, 1985, 1988, 1994, 1995.

World Bank. 1995. Armenia: the challenge of reform in the agricultural sector. A World Bank country study. Washington, D.C. 198 p.

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