During a public event on May 22, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company Armenia (CCHBCA), and the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme in Armenia (implemented by UNDP) marked the successful completion of a joint water project in Hayanist, Ararat. This is part of USAID’s broader efforts to curb the rate of groundwater abstraction in the Ararat Valley to sustainable levels.
Studies show that the groundwater reserves of the Ararat Valley are quickly disappearing. More than 30 communities are facing a shortage of water for drinking and irrigation. Reduced irrigation hits farms hard, negatively impacting the rural economy of Armenia and the nation’s food supply.
Hayanist is the first village in Armenia to practice an unconventional method of irrigation by reusing the water from a nearby fishery to meet the community’s irrigation needs. The project helped address a longtime irrigation issue by building a new pumping station at the water discharge point of the fishery, while conducting a quality analysis to ensure the water meets necessary quality standards for irrigation. The project also installed a new, more efficient irrigation pipe network as well as provided community training on sustainable farming practices.
Thanks to these efforts, the new system now benefits roughly 120 local households and irrigates 40 hectares of land that were left idle for two decades due to insufficient water supply. The project has also assisted the community in establishing a public-private partnership with the fish farm to support the more responsible use of groundwater in the Ararat Valley in the years to come.
U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills, Jr. joined local residents and other dignitaries – including Ararat Governor, Aramayis Grigoryan, Hayanist Mayor, Babken Sargsyan, USAID Armenia Mission Director, Deborah Grieser, CCHBCA General Manager, Christoph Speck, and UNDP Resident Representative a.i. in Armenia, Dmitry Mariyasin – for the celebration event in the village.
“The residents of Hayanist should feel proud,” Ambassador Mills said at the ceremony. “They are pioneers, the first community to put in place this method of irrigation using water from a nearby fishery. The project not only increases the water available for irrigation, but makes water use by the fisheries more efficient. Due to this effort, the community will not require additional water be pumped from the ground to irrigate their fields. It will also save electricity and help reduce soil degradation. Your actions will safeguard Armenia’s vital water reserves, allow the development of the region’s agriculture sector and serve as an example of the innovative solutions we can develop when we work together as partners and friends.”
Guests visited the new pumping station at the fishery and walked through the fields to see the new irrigation system in use.
“This pilot initiative contributes to environmental sustainability by reusing discharge waters from fish-farms. It not only prevents land salinization and water-logging, caused by the excessive volume of discharged water in the Ararat Valley, but also returns abandoned farmlands to cultivation, becoming a major source of income for community residents. We hope that this demo project will serve as an example for reforms in the water management sector and be successfully replicated in other communities of Ararat region,” Dmitry Mariyasin, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. in Armenia, said during the opening event.
CCHBCA supported the implementation of the water project as part of the Memorandum of Understanding it signed with USAID and the Ministry of Nature Protection of Armenia in July 2016. Under the Memorandum, partners committed to improve water stewardship across Armenia and contribute to the conservation, efficiency, and management of the depleting water resources in the Ararat valley.
“Giving back to the community and contributing to its socio-economic development is an important part of our corporate culture. We are proud to be a part of this essential initiative. This project is particularly important for us, as water stewardship is one of the key pillars of Coca-Cola Hellenic’s sustainability commitments. I was very glad to see that some of the inhabitants have already managed to renew cultivation of their lands and I believe further improvement of life conditions of Hayanist community will follow, thanks to this partnership,” General Manager of Coca-Cola Hellenic Armenia Christoph Speck noted.