USAID’s Earthquake Zone Recovery Program

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director–Keith E. Simmons–and Deputy Minister of Urban Development–Andranik Andreassyan–as well as Urban Institute representatives will distribute the first batch of housing certificates to eligible households in Shirak Marz participating in the new Earthquake Zone (EQZ) Recovery Program on Friday–October 5–at 4:00 pm–at the Marzpetaran (Governor’s Office) in Giumri. The first certificates in Lori Marz were issued on September 28. This $20 million Earthquake Recovery Program is co-financed by USAID and the Government of Armenia.

Under this program–some 4,000 families in Lori and Shirak Marzes who lost homes in the 1988 earthquake will be able to find safe–permanent homes. They will be awarded either certificates to purchase housing anywhere in Armenia–or gran’s to complete or repair unfinished or damaged houses. As beneficiary families give up their temporary and scant homes–local governmen’s are going to remove these structures and reclaim the sites for public or private use.

This program builds on the success of the USAID Pilot Housing Certificate Program in Gyumri–in which–to date–92 percent of the 312 certificate holders found apartmen’s–89 percent of them in Gyumri. The pilot site is also home to a new playground–with a park and recreation fields expected in the near future–which are all part of the USAID-funded–Save The Children public works program.

Eligible families are those who lost permanent homes in the earthquake–who have not been compensated–and who live in temporary shelters on sites selected for inclusion in the program. These sites will be ones which local authorities or private investors seek to reclaim for public uses such as parks–playgrounds–schools–or for commercial uses.

Plans are to issue approximately 2,400 housing certificates in Gyumri and 600 in Lori Marz. In addition–an estimated 650 rural and 350 urban households in Shirak and Lori will be given gran’s to repair or finish permanent homes. As well–gran’s will be made available to a number of condominium/homeowners associations in Lori and Shirak Marzes for repairs to their buildings.

The Earthquake Zone Recovery Program is part of a broad range of activities supported by USAID to help the recovery of this region and the rest of Armenia. These activities include nutrition programs–health programs to increase access to primary health care–and programs to strengthen local capacity through support of community–local government and non-governmental organization (NGO) development. Other programs focus on reform of social service delivery and social insurance systems–and support of micro–small and medium enterprises–including agribusiness.

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