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Pan-Armenian: What is the best way to help Armenia?
Posted: Friday, December 28, 2007
Ashot Vardanian, the Head of the Department of Territorial Administration in the Ararat Region wrote a message in which he is asking financial help for 11 communities in the Ararat Region.
With the suggested financial aid he promises to secure bedclothes, blankets and other items to these communities.
See complete text here. 

This might remind us of some earlier practices which - eventually - did not lead to the development of the countryside. What about the sustainable development? Shouldn't we adopt this kind of development? Are there any guidelines that we can follow or any experts who can show us how to utilize our contribution in the best possible way?
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Comment 4

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Posted by: lina   on Thursday, July 02, 2009

Comment 3

Auditing Funds to ensure transparency
The Republic of Armenia is as small as the State of Maryland in U.S.A., with the borderline of 3.0 million people living in the entire country, even though this figure is escalated by the government to show economic growth, however the latest figures from the World Bank and European Council demonstrated that majority of 3.0 million are seasonal residence who return home for few months after working in Russia/George/Dubai and other neighboring countries to earn a living and support their families in Armenia. 
A small country DOES NOT require billions and millions of dollars to meet Mazlow's basic living theory.  What have we got to show for? our villages are  disappearing one after another, due to poor roads, infrastructure, health, education, lack of employment and a sustainable income,  villages are in the worst  shape than the soviet years, our education is at the lowest quality with non competent  students entering institutes by bribes to avoid army, health is deteriorating, people die for no life threatening cause, a 5 year old boy died due to "bee sting", a 22 year old woman loses her  precious life during child birth,  women die on regular basis due to breast cancer and other simple women related illnesses which can easily be prevented if there is proper health care facilities in rural areas. A human life has no value in  rural Armenia. Thank God for an International Non-Profit organization, "doctor's without borders" to provide health care to rural areas, only ONCE a month.
How does Armenian government watches over widows, mothers, children of war victim in villages sharing a border with Azerbaijan? families live under the most horrifying condition, with no running water, no sewer, no electricity, no telecommunication, their loved one, husband or son sacrificed his life in the line of duty and now they should suffer for having a hero in their household......strange how we command our forces in Armenia. Security is lacking in border villages, children are shot on regular basis while walking to school, family of four walking along the side of the border with Azerbaijan are shot to death.These people are forgotten and gone from the face of the earth and certainly diminished from Armenia's map.
Corruption is a multi-dimensional phenomena, it's a growing disease that effects people of all ages, race and social levels.  Diaspora community members contribute to corruption through their million dollar donations to funds such as "Armenia Fund". Donors never ask for checks and balances or conduct an independent audit to ensure transparency.
To answer Socrates question, if we need a park across from the President's palace? ABSOLUTELY NOT......what we need is to provide basic living to our villages; water, irrigation, decent roads, give them tools to stand on their feet, not building a park for bunch of unemployed young crowd, smoking cigarettes, polluting the grounds with sun flower seeds and trash, what exactly does this project contribute to, except to add a view to the President's palace?
When asked from a donor of 1.5 million dollar to Armenia Fund if he will be willing to audit the books, he said "ABSOLUTELY NOT", amot e......there you have it, ignorance is an absence of mind.  Armenia Fund collected millions of dollars during the past few years, if they had a  solid leadership in place, they should have been sustainable by now.....but then again, money is spent on traveling business class, weeks of staying at the Marriott and wine and dine the diplomats and religious leaders.for publicity. A question should be asked if the funds are allocated to the high priority projects, do we need to build more dysfunctional roads, trees and parks, or should we focus on economic growth through helping small, medium business, promote small women business owners, provide finance to the poor, teach a farmer the state- of- the art agriculture methodology to export products and increase our GDP.
It is a pity that countries across Africa are upgrading their status from "conflict/under developed" to "developing" country, however, Armenia still remains as a "transiting country".
At the end, we are a CONFUSED country by default, in one hand we fall into Millennium Challenge Corporation  (www.mcc.gov) as one of the poorest and under developed country, sharing a list with Uganda, Gambia, Ghana and other third national country, then we have a lavish life style in Yerevan with expensive cars, CHIC European boutiques and top of the line restaurants.  SO WHAT EXACTLY IS OUR STATUS? a POOR country, in desperate need of millions of U.S. tax payers money,  or a CONFUSED, NON STATUS country.
To put an end to corruption, each one of us should demand checks and balances for our contribution, even if it's $5.00. Don't make any contribution to satisfy your self conscious and guilt feeling, make a contribution to the source......HUMAN DEVELOPMENT.
Make Armenia a better place for our youth, put an end to poverty through sustainability.
Happy New Year

Posted by: A well wisher   on Friday, January 11, 2008

Comment 2

Its about time that hand outs should stop as 100% of money contributed by hard working members of Armenian communities in Diaspora does not reach its destination and if anyone does not agree with this comment can see that for themselves by simply visiting Armenia, talking to people directly and looking at the lifestyles of those in charge of administering/managing these funds. Not all come under this umbrella, but majority see charity/fund raising as a quick route to easy cash. I personally looked at establishing a charitable association and majority of people I spoke in Armenia had only one interest what's in it for us financially, when the whole purpose of being involved in charity is to help people voluntarily.
Over inflating invoices, awarding contracts to associates, direct embezzlement of funds, creating false beneficiary identities, assigning family/relatives/friends to receive the funds for a %  return,  are just some of the ways prohibiting the funds reaching those in real need.  This destroys confidence, motivation to contribute and trust (the key to contribution) amongst members of the Diaspora in such fund raising initiatives.
Sustainable development is a must and this comes as Hilda correctly points out by teaching people to 'fish for themselves' train people specific to every region/community and local needs, however, this goes hand in hand with, creation of jobs, creating favourable conditions for new/existing businesses, creating incentives to accelerate foreign  direct investment, providing small business loans, removing business obstacles such as corruption/red tape (this is what contributes to the failure of sustainable development in Africa,) rural infrastructure development etc. A short term solution to this issue is accountability/transparency, independent audits conducted by members of Diaspora of charitable institutions, compliance with corporate governance, independent/unbiased elections of those managing charitable funds, direct management of these institutions by Diaspora (or NGO's) directly and creation of second hand/charity shops which will generate the much needed income by themselves. In addition to this projects have to be prioritised e.g. Hayastan All Armenia Fund is (in addition to other great development projects it is involved in) is re-developing a park/theme park opposite Presidents Office approx cost $1m (if I'm not mistaken) is that a necessity when 48.5% are living below the poverty line?
We constantly hear about Diaspora contributions, is there an estimate of contributions made by our counterparts in Armenia e.g. the wealthy sections of the society?   
As for the request from Ararat Marz, can Ashot provide the basis of his calculation i.e. how many people exactly will benefit from this initiative, who are these people, what exactly will be purchased, where from and at what prices (i.e. have they done a research to purchase the goods from the cheapest source, can they provide some evidence of this?)
Happy New Year and Best Wishes to you all for 2008!
Socrat Arakelyan

Posted by: Socrat   on Saturday, December 29, 2007

Comment 1

For the past 15 years, Armenia has received humanitarian aid and "hand-outs" from the Diaspora community throughout the world. This hand out resulted in dependency from the people in Armenia and lack of motivation and ambition to generate a sustainable living condition in Armenia. 


Since the horrifying earthquake of 1988 through September 2003, per government facts and figures, Diaspora community has contributed 1.5 billion dollar worth of funds, grants, in-kind contribution, materials and other humanitarian aid, this is for a small country of 3.0 million people, yet we still suffer from 48.1 percent of people living under poverty line of making $1/day for family of four (The World Bank).


Armenia has reached a milestone to switch strategy from "humanitarian" to "sustainability" and concentrate on development of a National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS). The central government should work in partnership with state and local governments, as well as private and NGO sectors to build a strong and united consortium to develop a solid NSDS.


While "hand-outs" are short term solution, sustainable development is the LONG TERM and KEY to alleviate poverty, generate income and employment and prevent migration. 


For the past five years, I have been traveling to Armenia on a volunteer and consultant basis to work with NGOs and other sectors.  I established an NGO to contribute to economic growth, sustainability, income and employment generation through community development, COMMUNITY BUILDS COMMUNITY, there are absolutely NO HAND OUTS, but to provide necessary tools, technical resources and materials to build a better community in rural areas of Armenia.


My message to the Marzbed of Ararat is to create a system, such as "capital revolving funds" to develop sustainability and stop asking for hand-outs, build your villages through teaching and motivating people to stand on their feet and learn, it's about time for us to take a step and TEACH A MAN HOW TO FISH TO FEED SELF FOR LIFE.


Yours for Armenia

Posted by: Hilda Grigorian   on Saturday, December 29, 2007

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