Climate Study Predicts Water Shortage in Armenia

Cicer et cetera Blog

The UNDP Armenia has released a thorough and alarming study conducted by the Stockholm Environment Institute on The Socio-Economic Impact of Climate Change in Armenia. The 130-page report was written by Elizabeth A. Stanton, Frank Ackerman, and Flavia Resende, who are highly respected experts in the field of environmental economics. [Download the report here]

The study points out that climate change will have far-reaching effects on social and economic life, and the ability for people to adapt will depend on whether or not funding will be available to support adaptive policy measures and how quickly these policies can be implemented. “Armenia’s future economic development will depend on the decisions that the current generation makes about investments in adaptation [to climate change],” warns the report.

According to this UNDP study, national scenarios forecast an increase to Armenia’s average annual temperature to be 4.5 degrees C in the lowlands and 7 degrees C in the highlands over the next century. Average annual precipitation is expected to decrease by as much as 9 percent, with the biggest reductions predicted for Yerevan and the Ararat Valley, which can expect 30 percent less precipitation by 2100. Higher temperatures will lead to more evaporation which means less soil moisture and reductions of up to 24 percent in river flows, which will reduce the availability of water for agriculture and power generation.

On an optimistic note, the experts from the Stockholm Environment Institute point out that many of the best available climate adaptation policy measures can be important for Armenia’s economic development. These include improving water and power generation infrastructure, integrating climate adaptation in plans for economic development and energy production, planning for more efficient use of resources in the context of growth and higher rates of consumption, and considering the needs and vulnerabilities of rural and low income households.

“Unless quick action is taken on large-scale adaptation measures, it is unlikely that Armenian families, their livelihoods, or their economy will be unscathed by climate change. Armenia’s poor and especially its rural poor populations will be particularly vulnerable,” warn the authors. “Social impacts will include an increased incidence of illness from heat waves as temperatures rise, a shortage of water and an increase to electricity tariffs as competing needs collide, food shortages or increased food prices as agricultural productivity falters, and an increased incidence of dangerous and damaging landslides, mudflows, and floods as dry soil and deforestation coincide with extreme storms.”

UNDP representative Dirk Boberg points out that this report is a pilot process undertaken by UNDP in only a few countries. He indicates that the priority sectors for adaptation to the impacts of climate change are water, agriculture, energy, and forests. “[This study] provides economic analysis and recommendations for decision-makers that need to manage the impacts of climate change by minimizing negative impacts and maximizing adaptation opportunities,” he writes in the foreword to The Socio-Economic Impact of Climate Change in Armenia.


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  1. Arshak Davidian said:

    A 4-5 degrees centigrade increase would indeed be a catastrophe and Armenia is sure to turn to a mountainous desert. Why not organise nation-wide forest planting campaigns? Why not give credit and advantage to students, for example, who submit proof of having planted a certain number of trees in such campaigns? Why not make a tradition of selling potted trees for Christmas and then going out for a picnic sometime in March and planting it in designated areas… A lot could be done… What’s lacking is desire and loving the homeland…

    A few days back, while shopping in Stepanakert, I saw smoked Siga (a type of white coloured fish intorduced into Lake Sevan in Soviet times) being sold. While I scolded the shopkeeper a policeman shopping by my side intervened and asked the reason for my anger. When I told him that Siga is being sold, the fishing of which is illegal (banned for many years, to restore the fauna in Sevan), what do you think he answered? “Fishing is illegal is selling illegal too?”. Well, go ahead and explain to a chicken-brained policeman that if robbing a jeweler is illegal then selling the stolen jewels is also illegal… Or am I too naive to believe in such things…

    The best is yet to come. When I told a colleague of mine about this incident… he ran immediately to buy some… When I chastised him too, he said “well, I love them”…

    Well, Armenians, I love Siga too. But I would rather not have a tasteful bite on it and give my children a chance to try it too… Not to read about it in future encyclopedias as a fish which USED TO BE there … and not available any more because their fathers were too egoist to think of them too…

    Well, as the Armenian saying goes “One does not shit in the plate where he eats from”… If our public will not understand this then we’re doomed!

    • Kevork Babayan said:

      Although I applaud your objections to selling and purchasing the threatened fish, if it was introduced to Lake Sevan (according to your statement), and is therefore not native to those waters, then let them eat all they want. I realize the ban helps protect not only our native species, but also our non-native ones at the same time. However, if we put the non-native species into the environment, then they have few natural predators and their population will remain unchecked and further hinder recovery of the native species.
      Besides the severe reduction in Lake Sevan’s water levels during Soviet times (which are on the rise again thankfully), introduced species pose one of the most significant threats to the stability of the ecosystem.  More aggressive and opportunistic non-native species out compete our native ones that have spent millions of years evolving in cohabitation.

  2. Arshak Davidian said:

    I rarely return to a page where I’ve dropped a comment. I am glad I did this time.

    Dear Kevork, yes the Siga is not native to Sevan and it has already done what harm it could do. Its quantities could be controlled by organised (scientific) fishing but not by total annihilation.  Let’s not forget about its value as a food source. Sevan can accomodate (both by weight and head-count) a lot more Siga than Ishkhan or Gegharguni (of which only the name remains).  What matters is not just the  ecological side of the question but that we are, once again, drifting in the classical Armenian mentality… I know better than you! NO I know better than YOU and THEM! The answer is that there are special state bodies assigned with the task and many specialists who have concluded that the Siga is to be protected. AND even if we think we know some things better than they do, we should abide to the law. If it’s forbidden then it is forbidden… If one has a different point of view, there are other civilised means to make oneself heard and exert influence on public opinion and laws etc. Buying Siga encourages poaching and poachers do not throw the Ishkhan back into the lake…

    Dear Jason, I am acquainted with what ATP is doing and am glad (and dare say proud) that there are at least SOME people who care. But unfortunately it seems that those who really care enough to do something are from without and not within Armenia as ATP seems to be run mainly on diaspora donations… I wonder what percent comes from Armenia or how many people have volunteered to grow a few saplings in their yards without financial expectations. How much financial aid the government of Armenia provides to NGOs on this matter?

    I believe that planting trees should have a compulsory element in it as in the “subotniks” of Soviet times. No room for playing democratic games about rights, freedoms etc. A certain category of the population should be deprived of some benefits and rights if they have not participated in such activities as planting trees… Students is one option. I know this sounds eerie, but enough is enough. Trees have been cut all over Armenia for centuries (not only in the 1990’s) but we can count on the fingers of one hand when any significant attempt was made to restore the forests.

    I too have experienced the harsh winters of the early nineties in Yerevan. I too would have cut trees if I had children or a family to warm! Though I manged without cutting trees I do not blame those who did. But if people know how to cut trees they should also know how to plant and restore. It works both ways. Otherwise, when our children or granchildren experience a similar episode in the future (and believe me, it is sure to happen), this time there will be no trees to cut…

  3. elaine gartner said:

    Dear People of Armenia, Do not fear. This climate warming is a hoax, purpetuated by the leftist academia who enrich themselves from government grants while seeking to control through fear. We hear the same lies in America.

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