To arm the rural communities with necessary tools to generate alternative sources of income, UNDP in Armenia with the support of Russian Federation, implements “Integrated Support to Rural Development: Building Resilient Communities” project in borderline communities of Tavush region, as according to the National Statistical Committee, approximately 37 percent of Armenia’s population is living in rural communities.
Among the many initiatives implemented through this project, a scheme of energy-efficient greenhouses was introduced by UNDP. Through rounds of consultations and needs assessments with women and men of Tavush region, the potential beneficiaries of the project, it was apparent that providing the necessary technology would assist the local households to become self-sufficient and more sustainable, by growing vegetables in low-risk conditions, guaranteeing a better harvest.
These greenhouses are 135 square meters each and operate with drip irrigation system adding to sustainability in scarce water resource environment. Expert estimates show that during the high season of production and sale, the greenhouses will provide up to 20 percent increase of household income.
In the initial year of the programme, 24 households and 6 communities started producing vegetables, this number has now grown to 86 households, out of which 44 are women-led (51 percent), and the other 42 have considerable involvement by women. As a result, over 112 beneficiaries received safer access to income-generation measures, which has helped them become economically more sustained and independent.
The selection of applicants has gender-sensitive criteria and aims to empower single-women households, or households where women are the main caretakers. Such is the case of Anna Virabyan, a hardworking mother of three underaged children. Anna has a degree in finance but was unable to find suitable employment as she had to take care of her children. She’s taken up agriculture for the past 10 years, however not having a greenhouse she could only harvest seasonally. With her greenhouse Anna is now able to have stable income all year round, even during the cold months of winter. This project has also given her flexibility to be near her children and not only to continue being a great mother, but also a great entrepreneur.
Anna is hopeful that this winter she will be able to generate income, as the greenhouse is now complete, and the planting has taken place in October, ready to be harvested before winter. She is optimistic that this will bring her stable income in the long run as well. Her community has also benefited a great deal, as her village and neighbouring communities were given a combine harvester which has encouraged and enabled many of her peers to take care of their land and create alternative sources of income for their households.