Water and Mountains
Sustainable Mountain Development in Armenia
Project symbol: TCP/ARM/3001
Photo © Eric Hutton/ Flickr
The Republic of Armenia is a mountainous country in the Caucasus region. Mountain ranges occupy almost 14 000 km2, or about 47 percent of the country’s land surface. Almost 40 percent of human settlements are at altitudes of 1 500 to 2 000 m above sea level.
Armenian mountains face a number of challenges that need urgent attention. These include: deterioration of economic potential, and food security problems; shrinking forest areas; soil degradation; limited access to drinking- and irrigation water; unsustainable agricultural production and cattle breeding practices; low living standards; restricted access to main trade routes and markets; restricted access to information and mass media; unemployment and outmigration; and lack of public and other funds to address these issues. All of these problems are interlinked and need to be addressed in the framework of a comprehensive sustainable mountain development strategy.
In Armenia, however, there was little experience of interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder and collaborative approaches to the development and implementation of such a strategy. Recognizing FAO’s experience in watershed management and sustainable mountain development, the Republic of Armenia requested FAO, through its TCP, to assist in filling these methodological gaps and initiating action on the ground. The TCP was implemented with a national and a field-level component, and formed the first step towards a larger programme on sustainable mountain development in Armenia.
The project’s main objective was to assist the Government of Armenia in its efforts to implement sustainable development in mountain areas. The following results were achieved at the national level:
Field-level project activities established two pilot and demonstration sites for building capacity on sustainable mountain development and experimenting approaches to improving the livelihoods of mountain people. These included strengthening local institutions and field testing the national strategy.
Although most of the project’s field-level impacts are clearly visible (particularly in Aragats), national-level impacts will depend largely on how effectively the national strategy is implemented and on how much support the donor community provides to the long-term investment programme developed in the framework of the TCP project. The project has certainly triggered broad discussion on mountain development in Armenia, involving students, teachers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), national experts, mayors, government officers and others. A long-term process has been initiated and many seeds have been sown for further work in sustainable mountain development.