YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Officials revealed on Tuesday that the British government allocated 4.5 million pounds ($7 million) to improve governance and spur economic development in Armenia’s two poorest regions.
Details of the four-year community development program encompassing the northeastern Tavush and Gegharkunik provinces were discussed by the Armenian minister for local government–Hovik Abrahamian–and the British ambassador in Yerevan–Timothy Jones. The Armenian government’s press service quoted Jones as saying that the donated funds would be spent on reforming local government bodies as well as battered infrastructures that have not seen major investmen’s since the Soviet collapse.
Abrahamian–who will coordinate the program’s implementation–said that particular importance will be given to educational and cultural institutions.
Tavush and Gegharkunik are also due to receive $16 million in environmental gran’s and loans from the World Bank and other Western donor agencies over the next six years. The assistance is aimed at restoring the ecological systems of the two mountainous regions by creating jobs that will discourage local residents from conducting illegal logging–fishing and extraction of natural resources. It will go to pay for the construction of roads–water lines and planting of trees.
Much of Gegharkunik is covered by the ecologically endangered Lake Sevan.