Armenia Fund Experts Visit Lori Region

Hayastan All-Armenian Fund
Governmental Buiding 3, Yerevan, RA
Contact: Lusine Mnatsakanyan
Tel: 3741 56 0106
Fax: 3741 52 15 05
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.himnadram. org

22 August, 2007

Armenia Fund Experts Visit Lori Region

Today, as Armenia Fund’s projects in Tavush villages are entering the
implementation stage, the Fund is dynamically working on expanding the Rural
Development Program to the rest of Armenia’s regions. Part of that process
is defining the potential clusters of villages which are to maximize the
impact of the implemented projects. As part of that process, Vahe
Aghabegians, Armenia Fund executive director, and a group of experts from
the Fund visited Lori region which includes Armenia’s northern border.

The first stop was Vanadzor, the administrative center of the region, where
Mr. Aghabegians met with deputy regional governor who introduced the current
situation in the region’s rural communities. Once the biggest supplier of
yellow cheese in all of the Soviet Union, Lori suffered a sharp economic
decline during the first years of independence. Potato cultivation was once
also big in the region but this was when there was irrigation and when the
villages had tractors, proper roads and natural gas. Now, in average, each
family has one cow, saws only enough wheat and potato to get through the
year and lives off money relatives send from abroad.

Next stop was the town of Tashir and the meeting with local entrepreneur
Khachig Doumigian, the owner of the Village Group cheese and meat
manufacturing enterprise. Mr. Doumigian says there is great potential in the
region for both industries but people need certain economic stimulus.
In the village of Norashen, Armenia Fund was able to find out about Lori’s
current problems firsthand. In line with many other issues, a major concern
for the Norashen community is the poor quality of telecommunication. "Why
pay the monthly fee if we can’t make or receive calls?" complained the

With a population of 271, the village of Ardzni was one of the smaller
communities Armenia Fund experts visited. The village shares many of the
problems of other villages in Lori and Armenia’s rural communities in
general: severed trading links, absence of infrastructure and investments.
"In our present situation the villager has no reason to stay", said the head
of the village.
With no cultural center and library Ardzni has almost no social life. Many
have left the village for Russia, others are looking to sell their houses
and join their relatives abroad.
"The Rural Development Program has undertaken the task of revitalizing
Armenia’s villages by integrating them into the country’s economy", says
Executive Director Vahe Aghabegians. "Only by doing so can we prevent
hopelessness and emigration."