Poverty is an unfortunate way of life for many people living in the South Caucasus, a region that includes the countries of Armenia and Georgia. As of 2018, about 23.5% of Armenia’s population was living below the poverty line. For Georgia, the most recent statistics from 2019 show that 13.3% of its population lived below the poverty line. However, despite the hardships that poverty brings for the people living in the South Caucasus countries, there is a glimmer of hope. Beginning in 1988, the Austrian Development Agency assists countries in the South Caucasus. With this assistance, Armenians and Georgians will have the tools they need for a better life.
Objectives of the Austrian Development Agency
The Austrian Development Agency follows three core objectives: fighting against poverty, working to guarantee peace and protecting the environment. The agency funds and oversees numerous programs intended to address these three objectives. The agency has used a total of 550 million euros to help fund current projects. However, the Austrian Development Agency does not carry out its objectives alone. Often, it partners with other institutions, such as the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs.
The Austrian Development Agency’s Work in Armenia
About 68% of the Austrian Development Agency’s funding for Armenia goes to the agricultural sector alone. The reason the agency provides so much funding to Armenia’s agriculture is that over a third of Armenia’s population has employment in that sector. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the agricultural sector of Armenia began to suffer. The agency is assisting Armenia by providing funding, knowledge and machinery to promote agricultural productivity.
The Austrian Development Agency’s Work in Georgia
The Austrian Development Agency assists the South Caucasus country of Georgia as well. The agricultural sector employed more than half of all workers in Georgia. The agency helps Georgia’s agricultural sector by providing modern agro-technologies and teaching agro-management techniques. In addition, the agency is trying to promote democratization in the country, using the standards of European institutions to promote democratic values.
The Austrian Development Agency is also working to preserve the forests that cover 38% of Georgia. Forests prevent erosion, maintain the climate and store necessary amounts of water. The agency is promoting sustainable forest and watershed management through education.
Progress in South Caucasus Countries
The Austrian Development Agency assists the South Caucasus countries of Armenia and Georgia in several different ways. It aims to boost residents’ productivity in the agricultural sector, in turn boosting the countries’ economies. Furthermore, in Georgia, it aims to protect forests and to circulate democratic values throughout the country.
– Jacob E. Lee