UNDP in Armenia’s “Integrated Support to Rural Development: Building Resilient Communities” project with the financial support of the Russian Federation, has been greatly involved in bringing stability to the rural communities of Armenia. According to the National Statistical Service approximately 37 percent of Armenia’s population is living in rural communities, therefore it is of utmost importance to ensure that people living in rural communities have access to equal opportunity and resources. This is usually not the case, as for most people living in borderline communities of Armenia, the main source of income is agriculture, which without the right technology can only provide seasonal harvest. This is especially harder for women, as they do not have the physical build that men do to carry out the physical activities intended for men, which presents a big problem as the 40 percent of 50 percent economically active women (aged 15-64) are employed in agriculture.
Therefore, in Tavush with the help of UNDP 12 non-formal agricultural groups established 40.1 ha of new fruit orchards, three of which are entirely women-led. These women oversee 9.224 ha of land. They used semi-intensive and intensive sorts of seedlings ensuring faster investment turnover and sustainable income for fifteen households. The orchards come with an added value of reduced maintenance cost, high productivity of seedlings adapted to the characteristics of the local soil and climate, as well as drip irrigation and other water-saving systems.
When we spoke to one of the female beneficiaries - Silva Arakelyan, it came to our attention that this was a great way to prove to the women of the community that they too can generate income. She said, “most men were surprised that I worked harder and better than them”. This is an important step towards empowering women in the regions of Armenia and pushing them to become more independent by making a living for themselves. Silva also mentioned that the orchards require a lot care and attention, so the work is never ending. Nevertheless, she is optimistic that with her continued hard work and efforts, as well as with the support of UNDP, these orchards will prove to be very fruitful in the long run.
Marieta, a native of Voskevan, is also a beneficiary of the project. Her husband has a second-class disability and they have three underaged children. Her husband was unable to find employment due to his disability and Marieta found it very hard taking care of her entire family. Now thanks to UNDP and their hard work and investment, both financially and emotionally, they hope to grow sustainable income and harvest the fruit from their orchard. They hope that in few years’ time this will turn out to be an invaluable step towards guaranteeing the bright future of their children.
The project has not only helped the direct beneficiaries but also the community as a whole. It has created many employment opportunities and paved a way for a better sustainable future not only for women but for all.