Society 20:27 23/11/2020 Armenia

Switzerland and Germany to extend support to Armenian communities in response to COVID-19

The governments of Switzerland and Germany are extending their support to the communities of Armenia in addressing challenges to local economic development in times of COVID-19. In the context of the ongoing “Improvement of the Local Self-Government System” program, additional funds amounting to CHF 460,000 will be committed to the municipalities for the delivery of public services to the population in a more efficient and participatory manner, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure reported on Monday.

Now more than ever, the reality created by the COVID-19 pandemic, with its negative effects on the economic situation in the regions, amplifies the need for further action. To tackle the immediate needs of the Armenian communities Switzerland and Germany respond to this backdrop by jointly contributing CHF 230,000 each. Focusing on a better use of the existing economic development potential, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) use these additional resources to set up a “Small Grants Scheme”.

Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure Vache Terteryan, Deputy Regional Director of Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus Werner Thut and Deputy Head of Mission of German Embassy Klaus Wendelberger launched the initiative on November 18.

Vache Terteryan, greeted the colleagues and confirmed the interest of the Ministry and their participation in the implementation of the grant scheme. " Because of the coronavirus it is a very difficult period, but we must do everything possible to overcome the difficulties." He noted that together with GIZ they have previously implemented projects contributing to the economic growth in communities. Taking into account the previous experience they will do their utmost in activating communities to promote local economic development.

“We believe that the time is right to start with the implementation of the "Small Grants Scheme", which will assist the municipalities of Armenia in the ongoing process of the Territorial and Administrative reforms in times of COVID-19 pandemic. We attach great importance to investment work and are very satisfied that we can have our share in it,” said Werner Thut.

Klaus Wendelberger pointed out that taken the difficult situation Armenia is at the moment, the initiative can have especially high significance. “We all know the situation, and this is especially true for the communities, who are carrying a big part of the burden induced by the Corona pandemic and know the impact of the war comes on top of this. This new grant scheme, that became possible with the joint efforts of the German and Swiss governments, gives a chance to municipalities to overcome local economic issues.” He especially highlighted that the funds will allow investments in smaller infrastructure measures to stimulate economic activities that were idle after the Corona crisis.

“The fast investment and implementation will be felt immediately by the citizens,” Wendelberger added.

The grants should enable municipalities to improve social and economic infrastructure in respective communities, as well as create jobs, promote self-employment, address household income issues, ensure diversification of local production, and more. The scheme will incentivize small and medium-size projects, initiated by the municipalities in partnership with local (non-state) economic actors.

Katrin Schaefer, team leader of the “Good governance for local development South Caucasus Programme” implemented by GIZ, explained that the information will be announced in two stages, with the launch of the grant program, and then with a wider public announcement for the local self-governments, NGOs and the private sector to be informed. She noted that joint applications from the local self-governments and the private sector are expected, as the opportunity to participate in the programme will not be limited to the participation of local authorities only.

Municipalities and/or public-private consortia can present their project proposals to the Small Grants Scheme Core Group. The application process will be curated by GIZ. Project proposal budgets can range between 5.000 EUR and 20,000 EUR which will be granted through GIZ. In exceptional cases amounts up to 50.000 euros can be granted, notably for inter-municipal projects.

Since 2015 Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) have been assisting the government of Armenia in the implementation of territorial and administrative reform and supporting the local authorities. The implementing partners of the “Improvement of the Local Self-Government System” program are GIZ, the Council of Europe (CoE) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

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