USAID Launches New Water Project in Ararat Valley

Ararat Valley, more than anywhere in the country, is facing a severe depletion of groundwater reserves.
Ararat Valley, more than anywhere in the country, is facing a severe depletion of groundwater reserves.

Ararat Valley, more than anywhere in the country, is facing a severe depletion of groundwater reserves.

YEREVAN—More than anywhere in the country, Armenia’s key agricultural hub and breadbasket, the Ararat Valley, is facing a severe depletion of groundwater reserves. But working with a number of Armenian partners, USAID Armenia is hoping to turn the situation around and ensure Armenia has enough water for years to come.

Studies show that Armenia’s water loss is being caused by many issues, including the exponential growth of fish farming, the continued use of inefficient and outdated fish farming techniques, corruption permitting illegal wells, weak enforcement of water saving policies, and low levels of environmental awareness among the Ararat Valley’s citizens. Today, more than 30 communities and 260,000 Armenians have limited access to drinking and irrigation water.

To help Armenia address this critical water scarcity, USAID has launched the Participatory Utilization and Resources Efficiency of Water (PURE Water) project, which will promote responsible water management in the Ararat Valley through public awareness and increased civic participation. The three-year project will engage local residents, civil society organizations, local government leaders, state agencies, and policy makers to increase water productivity, efficiency, and quality. The program will also promote water stewardship as a way to help reduce groundwater abstraction in the Ararat Valley.

Recognizing the importance of involving individuals and civil society in addressing the issue of water loss, USAID aims to increase public awareness of the water issue and facilitate dialogue on needed regulatory changes among the many communities touched by the issue. Through the PURE Water program USAID will also promote the design of small-scale water infrastructure projects to support the water needs of impacted communities.

The project will be implemented by the Urban Foundation for Sustainable Development in partnership with the Country Water Partnership NGO, and the Environmental Law Research Center at Yerevan State University.

PURE Water will complement USAID’s ongoing activities aimed at curbing the rate of groundwater abstraction in the Ararat Valley. The USAID Advanced Science and Partnerships for Integrated Resource Development (ASPIRED) project helps introduce efficient water management systems and technologies to the Ararat Valley, support environmentally-friendly fish farming, and encourage investments in clean energy.

Efficient management of water resources is critical to a strong business climate, sustainable economic growth, and regional stability. USAID has been supporting Armenia’s water sector for nearly two decades, helping the country to achieve measurable progress in the planning, management and monitoring of its precious water resources. Among many macro-level reforms, USAID achievements include the publication of the Water Resources Atlas for Armenia, the adoption of the Water Code of the Republic of Armenia, and the establishment of the Water Resources Management Agency.

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