AFUSA Negotiates World Bank Grant for Armenia to Preserve Culture

NEW YORK–As a result of the direct negotiations between Armenia Fund USA and the World Bank–the bank has made a grant of $371,000 to assist Armenia in preserving and promoting its cultural heritage. The program designed under this initiative will now be implemented by Hayastan All-Armenian Fund in Yerevan.

The announcement was made by Hagop Kouyoumdjian–AFUSA Board Chairman–who explained that Executive Director Mary Ann Kibarian–on behalf of HAAF–was the liaison with the Bank in setting up the negotiations. In compliance with the grant agreement–he explained–"AFUSA will continue to act as liaison with the Bank–thus facilitating logistics."

"What is so unusual about this grant–Kouyoumdjian said–"is that usually World Bank gran’s are implemented by governmen’s only. However–he went on–"the Bank was particularly impressed by HAAF’s structure and its past achievemen’s." The grant document says that "HAAF has demonstrated its ability to raise funds efficiently and use them effectively. It runs its operations in a transparent and reliable manner–in accordance with NGO (non-government organization) standards. The concrete results of its programs have proven that it has the capacity to implement a variety of projects."

Executive Director Kibarian added "This grant is a demonstration of the visionary administration of World Bank President James Wolfensohn–which understands that economic development in Armenia can be enhanced by supporting the restoration/conservation of landmarks. The preservation of the country’s heritage will enrich the tourist industry and facilitate scholarly exchange. This is an uncommon commitment for a vast global organization–and it manifests a willingness to not only provide more than the basics–but also an environment that will deliver a higher quality of life."

The two-part grant–crafted under the aegis of Alexandre Marc–Sector Manager for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development for the Europe and Central Asia region of the World Bank–and Marina Djabbarzade–Cultural Heritage Consultant–will be used for the improvement of Armenia’s institutional and legal framework for cultural heritage preservation and management and also to build the capacity of cultural institutions. Additionally–Armenia will set up a Cultural Rehabilitation Fund in order to attract Diaspora and private-sector funds to further cultural preservation as well as to develop a cultural-tourism pilot project.

Among the components of the grant are plans to update existing inventories of cultural institutions–provide computers–set up a program to train professional staff–review existing legislation and upon the Government’s approval–revise it in accordance with international standards for managing cultural properties.

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