Water Quality in ArmeniaArmenia is a landlocked country west of Turkey and is one of the world’s earliest Christian civilizations, with churches dating back to the fourth century. Armenia has been controlled by various nations and empires over the centuries despite periods of independence. It most recently gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and joined the Eurasian Economic Union in 2015.

There were large investments in water projects during the Soviet era, but because of poor workmanship and irregular maintenance, the water quality in Armenia suffered. Additionally, a lack of funding after the Soviet-era necessitated major repairs, and upgrades were almost entirely halted. Decades of neglect of the water and wastewater systems caused water to leak and be wasted. Citizens had limited access to water, and the water they had access to was often unhealthy.

Despite this, between 2003 and 2013 significant legislation and institutional reforms were introduced to improve water quality in Armenia. Two projects financed by the World Bank have improved the water quality in Armenia as well as access to it. Thanks to these projects, 332,000 households have gained access to running water 21 hours a day.

The World Bank reported that the Armenian government has partnered with the private sector, and today the country’s water is well regulated and more efficient as a result. Water quality in Armenia began to improve after a private company was placed in charge of the utility company.

In the city of Yerevan, most of the pumping stations are new and efficient, using 40 percent less energy, which saves on electrical costs. Rebuilt wells have reduced operating costs and losses. Nine water sources have had new chlorination stations built or the old ones fixed. Improvements like these have helped resolve issues with the water quality in Armenia, which has bettered the lives of many residents.

Fernando Vazquez

Photo: Flickr

Education in Armenia
In Armenia, the law requires schooling from the ages of six to 16. Education plays a central role in the lives of Armenian families, with students receiving abundant amounts of homework and classes lasting between four and six hours. Teachers are said to become a type of extended family, as parents give them a lot of respect for working with their children. Despite being a fairly small country, there are 25 higher education institutions with a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs. While education is an important facet of childhood in Armenia, it is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many families.

Education in Armenia is officially guaranteed for all citizens, but the education system is becoming more and more privatized. Some parents have trouble affording textbooks and other supplies for their children, and the system is also very corrupt, creating additional unnecessary expenses. There have been cases where parents are forced to provide supplemental income for teachers or large sums of money to ensure that their children will pass examinations. This corruption has lead to a significant decrease in the number of students enrolling in Armenian higher education institutions.

Another issue facing Armenian education is the disparity between male and female secondary school enrollment rates. Unlike many other parts of the world, there are many more females than males enrolled in secondary education. In 2014, about 112 percent of females were enrolled in upper secondary education, while only 89 percent of males were enrolled.

While Armenia does need to reduce the corruption in its education system and should increase funding to make education more accessible to low-income families, the quality of the education provided here is very high. Of Armenians who are age 15 and over, 100 percent are literate, placing Armenia near the 99th percentile for access and literacy across the world.

Armenia has clearly done something right by providing good quality education to all, but it needs to work on making that education equally affordable with less corruption. Despite their favorable statistics, there is much work to be done, but with the implementation of better standards and increased funding, the education system in Armenia can surely become one of the best in the world.

Liyanga De Silva

Photo: Flickr

As one of the earliest Christian civilizations, Armenia holds steadfast to countless traditions, including those rooted in dance, music, art and cuisine. Disappointingly, Armenia’s customs come with a bleak history of deficiency and shortage. 32 percent of Armenians live an underprivileged lifestyle. Non-government organizations have been working to decrease this large percentage and address many other issues within the country. These three NGOs offer more insight into learning how to help people in Armenia.

KASA Swiss Humanitarian Foundation
For almost 20 years, KASA has been supporting impoverished Armenians through the contribution of material aid, training opportunities and developmental tools. Education alongside communication allows KASA to promote a civil society and sustainable growth. This NGO is currently involved in three projects, with their most popular one titled Sponsored Families. Every year, 20 to 25 Armenian families struggling with illness, unemployment and inadequate housing are supported through Sponsored Families. KASA strongly encourages others to help people in Armenia by funding these families. The organization also prospers via volunteer efforts, organizing collaborated events and spreading the word.

Full Life
Originated due to civic responsibility, Full Life works for equal rights for the 6.2 percent of Armenians struggling with disabilities. Their involvement goes beyond advocacy and public awareness through the implementation of multiple programs. A recent project included employment of people with disabilities in the livestock sector. This project is certainly a priority when one considers the 35.2 percent poverty rate among Armenian households with no employed members. Full Life seeks most of its support through volunteer work and contributions. They also build awareness through various campaigns and encourage the public to join their mission of equal opportunity.

Peace Dialogue
Like many other countries around the world, Armenia has experienced its fair share of conflict. A prime example is a disagreement with their neighbor Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Ethnic clashes date back centuries, with tension between the two countries still existing. Peace Dialogue studies conflict and unites experienced human rights defenders to promote peace-building initiatives. Over the course of 2015-2016, Peace Dialogue has been involved in seven projects. The programs ranged from reducing corruption risk in public transportation to using artistic means for human rights protection. Much of Peace Dialogue’s assistance is generated through sponsors, but they accept help in the form of donations as well. Involvement is also stimulated by their online presence where they feature articles, research and annual reports.

Helping people in Armenia begins with looking at what the country needs. Many of Armenia’s goals relate to poverty reduction, equal rights and peace. Successful NGO outcomes require more than subsidies to see results. Management and large-scale immersion are also crucial to successful function. Each NGO mentioned offers three methods of participation: funding, volunteerism and public understanding. If you are unable to share your money or time, exchanging thoughts on Armenia’s issues over social media is an excellent way to get the ball rolling.

Emilee Wessel

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in ArmeniaArmenia is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe that saw a steady decrease in poverty after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. However, Armenia was hit quite hard by the recession in 2008, and the economy is still trying to right itself. Many families in Armenia struggle to find work and affordable necessities. The poverty rate in Armenia is 29.8 percent. The main causes of poverty in Armenia are a lack of jobs within the country, a high unemployment rate and a weak agricultural system.

Migration of Workforce

One of the main causes of poverty in Armenia is a lack of jobs. This is demonstrated through the number of workers who emigrate. The majority of men leave the country to earn wages in Russia. Some researchers estimate that almost 14 percent of the Armenian population has emigrated to find employment elsewhere.

In order to combat this problem, Armenia needs to create more job opportunities within the country. Currently, one-fourth of jobs in Armenia are low-paying jobs; thus, Armenia needs to create more middle-income positions. Formal businesses want the government to impose more regulations so that informal employers do not have advantages. If the Armenian government intervened, these businesses could create many more jobs.

Poverty and Unemployment

Unemployment and poverty in Armenia are closely linked. In 2010, when the head of the household was unemployed there was a 50 percent chance they lived below the poverty line. The reported unemployment rate in Armenia is 16 percent. The average job search is 20 months. Unemployment benefits in Armenia are minimal, so a large percentage of the unemployed do not register. The number of unemployed people in Armenia is estimated to be closer to 30 percent.

There is low labor force participation in Armenia. Around 70 percent of women in Armenia are unemployed and only 55 percent of women who are of working age are active in the economy. One way to solve this aspect of unemployment is for the government to create incentives to encourage women to join the workforce. The Armenian government can also work to remove barriers to working such as transportation or household responsibilities.

Weak Agricultural System

The agricultural system in Armenia does not create enough jobs or affordable food. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Armenia had to replace some of its industrial economy with agriculture to feed its people. The government rapidly created small farms and sold them to citizens. Many of the newly minted farms were created in mountain regions with difficult terrain. Farmers often lack agricultural knowledge. In addition, many of the small farms do not have adequate infrastructures or access to farming technology. Government policy has not bolstered the efficiency of farms; instead, changing regulations and policies have damaged the agricultural sector. If Armenia can develop its agricultural sector through education, infrastructure and policy, the country will be able to produce more of its own food and improve the standard of living.

While over one-quarter of Armenians live in poverty today, this number can be reduced. Creating more attractive jobs within Armenia will encourage citizens to work in their country. In addition, the development of programs to help people join the workforce will help decrease the unemployment rate. Finally, as Armenia improves its agriculture system, the price of food in the country will decrease.

Sarah Denning

Armenia Poverty RateFollowing a sharp economic downturn in 2009, Armenia is finally seeing a slow but steady decline in its poverty rates. As the country continues to find ways to increase wages and create jobs to stimulate the economy, Armenia’s poverty rate will maintain its decline.

Although Armenia has been experiencing a decline in its poverty rate in recent years, this decline comes after a six-year period of high poverty rates. In fact, in 2008 Armenia’s poverty rate was reported at 17.4 percent and had virtually doubled to 32.4 percent at the end of 2012.

This increase comes directly from the sharp economic decline in 2009 coupled with extremely low salaries that did not compensate for the cost of living in Armenia, despite it already being 54 percent lower than the United States.

However, the country quickly found a solution at the end of 2013 that gradually decreased the poverty rate and increased salaries and pensions.

ARKA News Agency noted that in 2014, 900,000 people were poor, with 310,000 very poor and 60,000 extremely poor. These accounted for 19.4 percent of the population as poor, 8.4 percent as very poor and 2 percent as extremely poor. But by 2015, Armenia had returned to a 29.8 percent poverty rate, just 12.4 percent more than the poverty rate in 2008.

Despite a still inflated poverty rate, the country continues to see improvements in its poverty rates. In 2015, Armenia ranked second to its neighbors in poverty rates at 29.8 percent, but now in 2017, at the same rate, it is ranked fourth.

With the poverty rats continuing to fall, the GDP has reflected the trend by increasing. Last year, the GDP climbed to $10.547 billion, a $0.018 billion increase from 2015.

As the country continues its substantial improvement, Armenia’s poverty rate will sustain its reduction while its GDP and salaries increase.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in ArmeniaThe Republic of Armenia is a mountainous, landlocked country between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea in the Southern Caucasus. It is densely populated, with more than three billion people. The country is known to battle several diseases and health risk factors. Below are four common diseases in Armenia and how the country is working to combat them.

Cardiovascular Diseases

Current data reveals cardiovascular diseases affect 50.5 percent of the population in Armenia. The majority of people affected by cardiovascular problems have ischemic heart disease, which affects 80 percent of males and females between 30 and 34 years of age. Between 1990 and 2013 alone, ischemic heart disease killed about 317 people out of every 100,000, and its mortality rate increased by 53 percent since 1990. Stroke is the second most common cardiovascular disease, which claimed 129 lives out of every 100,000 between 1990 and 2013. Hypertensive heart disease is the third most deadly cardiovascular disease, as its mortality rate has increased by 75 percent since 1990. These diseases make up 94.3 percent of all years of healthy life lost in Armenia in 2013. A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that at least 80 percent of cardiovascular risks like heart disease, stroke and diabetes could be prevented by eating healthy and exercising regularly, as more than 60 percent of both Armenia’s male and female populations were overweight as of 2015.

Cancers

The next most common illness in Armenia is cancer, specifically lung, breast, stomach, colon, liver, pancreatic, bladder and prostate cancers. A report from 2013 shows that 20.8 percent of deaths that year were from cancer in both males and females. The deadliest were lung, bronchial and tracheal cancer, which claimed the lives of 42.5 people out of every 100,000. Cancer made up almost one-third of deaths between 2000 and 2012. Fortunately, according to a WHO statistical report in 2012, the death rate for breast, colon and stomach cancers had decreased since 2000, each claiming less than two percent of lives. Because Armenia is a WHO European region – which designates at least $2,000 total expenditure on health per capita – continued funding for the health sector could rectify the problem of high rates of diagnosed cancers.

Tuberculosis

Another prevalent disease in Armenia is tuberculosis (TB). Data show that in 2015, about 1,104 total cases of TB were diagnosed. Most people diagnosed with TB also have HIV; when paired together these are more deadly than a TB diagnosis alone, as HIV causes a lowered immune system which can spread TB faster throughout the body. In 2015, all noted TB cases were in patients with HIV status, and 41 out of every 100,000 people who died were both TB and HIV positive. Despite these concerning numbers, Armenia is taking practical and effective steps in TB treatment and funding for the disease. More than 60 percent of HIV-positive TB patients received successful treatment between 2012 and 2014, and new and relapse cases of TB saw an approximate 80 percent treatment success rate. In 2015, about 14 percent of HIV-positive people were enrolled in TB preventative treatment. Further, Armenia is currently financed in 55 percent domestic and 45 percent international TB treatment as of 2016.

Influenza

In 2011, WHO European Region in partnership with Influenza Division International Activities released an annual report detailing Armenia’s implementation of influenza surveillance systems. The U.S. CDC noted that Armenia completed all five years of the Surveillance and Response to Pandemic and Avian Influenza agreement in order to combat rampant annual flu outbreaks in the country. Armenia achieved a number of goals under this agreement, including adding laboratory and diagnostic means of detecting active avian and human influenza, running sentinel surveillance of outbreaks, doing appropriate specimen testing during the influenza season and updating a small library with relevant scientific documents and participating in regional and international conferences and workshops. Influenza surveillance sites have been established in three hospitals in the capital city of Yerevan, and in five hospitals in the cities of Vanadzor and Kapan. As of 2011, all but one surveillance lab was completely functional, proving influenza prevention and treatment may be on its way to becoming more successful.

These common diseases in Armenia are clearly being met with much action and compassion from both inside the country and outside. With continued efforts to alleviate the burden of disease and educate the population, Armenia is headed in the right direction.

Olivia Cyr

Photo: Flickr

Why Is Armenia PoorLocated in West Asia, Armenia is a landlocked country with approximately 3 million people. From 2004 to 2015, the poverty rate in Armenia declined by 44 percent. Unfortunately, the country continues to struggle despite this improvement. The Asian Development Bank reports about 30 percent of Armenians are still surviving below poverty lines. Below are statistics that might answer the question: “Why is Armenia poor?”

  1. The first answer behind “why is Armenia poor?” has roots in the global economic crisis of 2008. This disaster delayed Armenia’s progress towards ending poverty. During the crisis, the country suffered a 5.9 percent economic recession and only 6.9 percent annual GDP growth. It wasn’t until 2013 that Armenia began to see small improvements with economic development. Today, growth exists, but it is very slow, with a GDP gain of about 3 percent.
  2. According to the Armenian Poverty Profile conducted from 2008 to 2015, the risk of poverty appears to be directly related to household size. This is because larger households have more children. In Armenia, homes with three or more children below 6 years of age have a 60 percent risk of experiencing poverty.
  3. In comparison to male-headed households, female-headed households are more likely to be poor. Almost 30 percent of the poor population resides in a female-headed home. This simply means that women can not support their families when they are the only source of income.
  4. People with higher education are less likely to be poor in Armenia. The poverty rate is the lowest among those with tertiary education. The rate was around 1.8 times lower than the national average for the population over 16 years of age in 2015.
  5. The final answer to “why is Armenia poor?” relates to labor markets. Lack of employment increases the risk of being poor or extremely poor. In 2015, the poverty rate among households with no employed members was 35.2 percent. This was 6.5 percentage points higher than the national average.

Armenia is in an endless battle to defeat poverty due to five main facts. These include the global economic crisis, larger households, female-run homes, lack of education and high unemployment rates. The country has been working with the World Bank to identify key challenges and opportunities associated with reducing Armenia’s poverty rates. Participation from this organization provides hope for sustainable growth, shared prosperity and poverty reduction in Armenia.

Emilee Wessel

Photo: Pixabay

Human Rights in ArmeniaHuman rights is an internationally discussed topic, with the issues spanning from free speech to the rights of detained suspects. International councils have long harbored an interest in building alliances to eradicate violations of human rights in as many nations as possible. Human rights in Armenia are of special interest now. In June 2017, a human rights defender, Artur Sakunts, received death threats.

Sakunts is the director of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor Office (HCA-Vanazdor). HCA-Vanazdor is a high-profile defender of human rights in Armenia. Sakunts received a highly specific death threat via Facebook, which illustrates that the issue of human rights is hotly debated in Armenia. The Armenian government’s record with respect to human rights is somewhat uneven. In 2008, the government pledged to combat violence against women. However, no legislation was passed since. For example, there is no law criminalizing domestic violence.

LGBTQ populations also do not have anti-discrimination protection or legal protection against hate speech. The lack of legislation makes it difficult for women and LGBTQ groups to find a legal solution to advocate for their rights. Peaceful protesters are sometimes met with excessive force and with ill treatment in custody.

Founding Parliament, a radical group opposed to the government, seized a police station in the capital of Armenia, Yerevan, killing a policeman and taking several others hostage on July 17, 2016. The gunmen eventually surrendered on July 31. Yet the seizure of the police station proved to be a catalyst for protest movement against the government.

In late July, peaceful protesters were showing their support for Founding Parliament in the same neighborhood of the seized police station. Without warning the protesters, police fired stun grenades into the crowd. The protesters sustained first and second-degree burns and fragmentation wounds. Other protesters were beaten with clubs.

Journalists covering the protest were warned by the police, but some journalists suffered the after-effects of stun grenades fired specifically at them. Protest leaders and participants were detained, with the authorities citing criminal charges leveled against them. Detainees were held up to 12 hours without documentation. Authorities relied primarily on police testimony to press criminal charges. Detainees were also denied access to lawyers and were not permitted to inform relatives about their detentions.

The explosive events of July 2016 demonstrate the palpable tensions between Armenian citizens and the government.  Fortunately, groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch continue to report violations of human rights in Armenia. Generating awareness for human rights issues can pave a path towards finding legal, political and more permanent solutions for such human rights violations.

Smriti Krishnan

Photo: Pixabay


In 2014, water quality in Armenia was less than satisfactory. Some of the water infrastructures had not been touched since the Soviet era, but after governmental efforts and investments from entities like the World Bank, today water quality in Armenia is now abundant and clean.

Before the investments transformed the water quality in Armenia, the head of the National Water Cooperation, a non-governmental organization, indicated that water pollution and supplying people with clean water were the two biggest challenges. Compared to a decade ago, added Arevik Hovsepyan, who heads the NGO, the level of water pollution had grown because of lack of governmental control.

After years of neglect, the government finally stepped in to improve leaking municipal water and wastewater systems and extend hours of delivery for running water. The cost to upgrade the water infrastructure, which had deteriorated over time and resulted in water losses of over 85 percent — one of the worst in the world — was estimated at $179 million.

The World Bank stepped in with assistance that resulted in 330,000 homes having 21 hours of running water a day, an increase from six hours, as well as improved water delivery and quality, and new pumping stations that decreased the amount of energy used by 40 percent. Other improvements included rebuilding and minimizing operation costs and water losses, as well as, refurbishing chlorination stations.

With these new improvements to water quality in Armenia, the country now has adequate water for drinking, irrigation, and industrial use throughout the country. In addition, the issues that had arisen from poor workmanship during the Soviet era have been improved. More than half of water loss from leaks were fixed, 70 percent of the distribution system was replaced, and the availability of running water increased to nearly 24 hours a day. In addition, the drinking water pollution and inaccessibility is at 28.91 percent while general water pollution comes in at 35.48 percent, both considered low on the scale.

With improving water quality in Armenia, the country will continue to find solutions to give all citizens access to adequate water, improve water delivery and maintain city pipelines.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Flickr


The country of Armenia, or the Republic of Armenia, is a sovereign state in the South Caucus region bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, Azerbaijan to the east and Iran to the south. The Armenians are a rich and storied people dating back to antiquity.

Armenia has acted as a purely autonomous region since regaining independence from the Soviet Union after the fall of the communist party. Since the dissolution of the USSR, Armenia has had difficulties in maintaining quality healthcare for certain diseases due to a difficult transition from a centrally planned to a market economy. Due to this new economic redirection, the current healthcare system skews more toward funding hospital interventions, leaving little funding for community projects. Because of this, various communicable and non-communicable diseases have had a major impact on the people in this region. Here is a list of the top diseases in Armenia.

Non-communicable diseases

Like many countries in Europe, the most common cause of death due to illness is non-communicable diseases. Some of these diseases include cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and musculoskeletal conditions. These all add up to a substantial fatality rate in the nation. Approximately 50 percent of deaths were caused by cardiovascular diseases and 74 percent resulted from combined symptoms (cardiovascular, neoplasms and diabetes mellitus) in 2013.

Malaria

Malaria is a disease spread by infectious mosquitos. It exhibits symptoms such as fever, vomiting and fatigue and can be fatal. Armenia was given malaria-free status in 2011 but has had a difficult time fighting the disease throughout the years. Thousands of people were infected between 1920 and 1930, and 200,000 cases were reported in 1934. Armenia was given malaria-free status in 1963 after years of fighting the disease. After the dissolution of the USSR, however, malaria resurfaced in 1994 and numbers peaked at 1156 in 1998. Cases have steadily decreased since, but malaria and yellow fever are still the top diseases in Armenia to look out for on the Center for Disease Control travel page.

Familial Mediterranean Fever

One of the top diseases in Armenia, Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF) is hereditary and only affects individuals from the region. This disease is most common in people with Sephardic Jewish, Armenian, Arab and Turkish backgrounds. People infected generally exhibit recurrent cases of fever, abdominal inflammation, lung inflammation, swollen joints and a characteristic ankle rash. Severe cases of the disease can cause inflammation surrounding the heart (pericarditis) and swelling of the membrane surrounding the brain or spinal cord (meningitis). According to a report from the National Human Genome Research Institute, approximately one in every 200 people with one of these particular backgrounds has FMF. There is currently no cure for the disease.

Though there is still much work to do, Armenia has made significant strides in retooling its healthcare system. With the implementation of positive reforms, these top diseases in Armenia could be controlled or eliminated in the future.

Drew Hazzard

Photo: Flickr