FY 2008 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance
FY 2008 Foreign Assistance Goals
In FY 2008, United State Government (USG) support was provided to help Armenians achieve improvements in several key sectors. In the peace and security area, USG assistance worked to increase Armenia’s peacekeeping capacity, combat weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threats, protect its borders, and fight transnational crime, including financial crime and human trafficking. In the area of governance, broad objectives were to strengthen grass-roots civic participation, increase the effectiveness of the justice sector and local government, fight corruption, and promote democratic political processes. USG assistance sought to strengthen the foundations for economic growth by making improvements to the business and policy environment, introducing second stage economic reforms, improving key infrastructure and enhancing the competitiveness of key industries. To help foster regional integration, the USG supported cross-border programs aimed at developing positive economic, cultural and diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey as well as developing energy, tele-communications and trade linkages in the region. USG assistance worked to advance the Government of Armenia’s (GOAM) efforts to reform health and social welfare systems to make them more effective and sustainable. The goal of the humanitarian program was to conduct facilities renovation and the provision of medical supplies, medical equipment and other basic commodities to the most vulnerable citizens.
Total FY 2008 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance: $62.60m*
(*Foreign Operations appropriated assistance, excluding Peace Corps funds and centrally managed Foreign Operations funds that are not budgeted for specific countries. HA total does not include the value of donated humanitarian commodities transported by the Department of State, estimated at $9.77 million in FY 2008.)
Highlights of FY 2008 Performance by Area of Focus
Peace and Security
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Supported nuclear safety activities that provided essential equipment and a training center. These activities were conducted in cooperation with the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant (ANPP), International Atomic Energy Agency, European Union and other donors.
- Provided training and facility upgrades to the Customs and Border Guard forces. Training was on commodity identification, inspection and detection techniques, and equipment training. Equipment upgrades included passport readers and computer systems to augment the automated immigration system. Upgrades allowed the Armenian government to check Interpol and terrorist watch lists.
- Improved the Armenian Peacekeeping Forces through the delivery of transport equipment and radios, training for ordinance disposal, and the training and provision of equipment for the Armenian Level II surgical field hospital and the De-mining Center. This USG assistance directly supports tactical US/NATO peacekeeping/stability operations. In addition, USG support was provided for specialized military training, and English language training.
- Enhanced the technical ability of law enforcement, such as the Border Management Information System expansion project, which brought a modern, efficient immigration processing system to all Armenia’s main border crossing points. Also, the National Forensic Laboratory now has a modern, secure building, trained personnel and up-to-date equipment.
- Provided shelter to Armenian and foreign victims of human trafficking in Armenia and funded the only telephone hotline for victims in the country. USG assistance supported training for police and border officials to help them identify and assist trafficking victims. The number of reported trafficking cases declined in the past year.
- Implemented activities in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia that resulted in increased cross-border partnerships among citizen groups. These initiatives promoted economic and social ties among the neighbors to accelerate confidence building in the South Caucasus. In addition, USG assistance supported a cross-border program for the development of economic and diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey. This effort resulted in increased understanding at the grassroots level of the need to re-establish dialogue and cooperation between the two countries.
Governing Justly and Democratically
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Provided training to the Chamber of Advocates on legal writing and research, arguing motions, trial advocacy, and preparing appellate briefs. The Chamber took the lead in administering the 2008 written and oral bar examinations resulting in 83 new advocates being admitted.
- Resulted in the development of the Public Defenders’ Office, with many of its advocates trained previously at USG supported events. These former trainees are now defending the legal rights of “defendants” held under politically motivated charges stemming from the 2008 elections. Despite a political climate heavily tilted against demonstrators, public defenders and private advocates produced five acquittals after full trials and more than 20 pre-trial withdrawals of criminal charges.
- Helped strengthen the credit worthiness of seventeen cities, all of which now qualify to apply for private bank loans. Each of the 38 cities which received USG assistance increased own-source revenues, and 33 increased their capacity to sustain higher levels of solid waste service. Local Councils became more proactive, engaging communities at public hearings on local budget discussions and other key issues.
- Facilitated consultative public meetings between the Armenian government and NGOs on the new National Anti-Corruption Strategy. As of the end of FY 2008, USG assistance helped the Prosecutor General’s Office begin to apply recommendations of the Internal and External Anti-Corruption Communications Strategy developed by the Prime Minister’s Public Relations Office, and the Government is aggressively pursuing a campaign to publicize its anti-corruption agenda.
- Provided support to an indigenous NGO to conduct an advocacy campaign to include more women on party lists, which contributed to a nearly doubling of the number of women in the Parliament. During the post–election period, assistance facilitated dialogue between pro-government and opposition camps, helped youth groups to conduct advocacy, and created opportunities for young citizens to discuss political issues with party leaders.
- Promoted free and fair elections through assistance to improve election administration and support for domestic observation. USG assistance helped to develop a Precinct Election Commission (PEC) training manual and PEC Registry Journal which reached over 15,000 poll workers, Territorial Election Commission members and international and domestic observer organizations, and served as the cornerstone of PEC training for all polling stations on Election Day. USG assistance also supported the efforts of a non-partisan domestic monitoring NGO to recruit and train election monitors, provide voter education, and observe Armenia’s 2008 presidential and local elections.
- Promoted civic activism and community development through support to 80 youth community clubs, including 20 newly enrolled in 2008. With USG support, more than 2,000 volunteers participated in 510 civic actions ranging from community clean-ups and tree planting to addressing larger systemic issues such as municipal solid waste management, water supply, road repair, public transportation, public services. Also, USG-funded grants provided through the Peace Corps helped rehabilitate infrastructure in 20 communities throughout Armenia, serving over 90,000 beneficiaries.
Investing in People
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Renovated and equipped 50 percent of the neediest rural health clinics throughout the country, with 20 percent of those completed in FY 2008. For every renovation funded, the USG leveraged in-kind or monetary resources from the community. Community nurse clinical skills training led to improvements in quality of care. Rural health infrastructure renovation and capacity building resulted in a five-fold increase in the use of health center services in selected sites.
- Directly contributed to reductions in maternal mortality by reducing post-partum hemorrhage rates - the primary cause of maternal death in Armenia - by over 60 percent; and supported the expansion of family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) services in five Southern regions that resulted in increased modern contraceptive use and a reduction of abortions in pilot sites. The USG trained obstetrician-gynecologists, pediatricians, family doctors, nurses, and midwives in FP/RH counseling and/or modern contraceptive technologies and provided newly developed FP job aids to healthcare workers. FP counseling is now integrated into the health services at five hospitals and is offered at an additional 52 primary healthcare facilities.
- Resulted in the development of a two-year action plan for achieving national goals of TB control and Directly Observed Treatment Short-Course (DOTS) treatment, as well as a framework for the reorganization of the TB laboratory system. USG programs trained 230 health care providers to implement a DOTS program.
- Provided eye care services -- eye screening, surgery, laser treatment or eyeglasses -- to over 51,000 needy Armenians in predominantly rural areas; trained over 500 health providers in ophthalmology.
- Worked closely with the State Employment Services Agency (SESA) to strengthen its capacity to address the needs of the unemployed, providing assistance in: developing of a long-term strategy and action plan; strengthening the SESA’s ability to forecast and publish data on labor market demand and supply; creating three model regional employment service offices; and introducing effective labor market measures such as job-search skill training, job clubs, job fairs, and employer services. As a result, use of SESA services increased by 20 percent last year.
- Helped reduce the number of abandoned, institutionalized, and neglected children, and improve services for disabled children. Fifteen community centers provided services to families that included: child abandonment prevention counseling, alternatives to institutional care, community integration for disabled children and orphanage alumni, and support for integration of disabled children into mainstream educational facilities. The community center is recognized as a model for community-based services for the GOAM and other donors.
- Continued to support an Armenian NGO, Mission Armenia (MA), to provide community-based nutritional, medical, and social services to vulnerable elderly and disabled. Through 27 soup kitchens and day care centers, approximately 8,000 persons received assistance. In FY 2008, the GOAM adopted this service model as a government standard, and licensed all MA facilities, clearing the way for state funding and greatly enhancing the sustainability of the NGO.
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Supported the State Tax Service (STS) adoption of the first Triennial Tax Modernization and Strategic Plan, paving the way forward for change and ambitious tax/GDP goals.
- Increased the sustainability of industry trade associations. Membership of industry trade associations increased by 16 percent and association revenues from non-USG sources increased by nearly 100 percent, thus bringing them closer to financial sustainability.
- Resulted in the development of a cadre of capable bank risk management professionals. Banks were able to extend their credit portfolio and provide services at more affordable, risk-adjusted prices. Technical assistance was also provided to develop and deliver new financial products that are tailored to needs for short- and long-term financing. USG assistance was also provided to introduce longer-term financial instruments. As a result commercial bonds were issued by two banks, which allowed them to secure longer-term financing necessary for small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) lending. USG assistance in the mortgage sector contributed to an increased volume of mortgage lending of 35 percent in FY 2008.
- Provided expert advice to help Armenia improve its energy efficiency. In addition to completing market analyses, the development of business models for commercialization of energy efficiency, and trainings of businesses and banks, agreements have been signed with four banks and privately funded projects with commercial financing should start next year. The project also completed six energy efficiency projects improving energy services for 14,500 people and garnering a 50 percent cost share from USG partners. Finally, the regulatory framework was strengthened last year with USG assistance, by improving the regulations for network expansion and new customer connections.
- Continued to support the establishment of Farm Credit Armenia with a board of directors elected and 20 staff members hired and trained. To date, over 45 loans have been made for a total of approximately $450,000 with an average loan size of $10,500. In addition, USG assistance supported the creation of a private agriculture sector NGO that has provided more than 267 trainings and small grants in five agricultural sectors. As a result, 13,300 farmers have improved their linkages to markets and improved farm productivity, production and crop yield; over $7 million has been generated in rural communities via milk marketing cooperatives and milk collection units; and over 136 new rural small and medium size enterprises and food processing companies have improved production technologies, marketing practices, and food safety and sanitary conditions.
- Resulted in the improvement of water legislation, resource monitoring, and water planning and allocation processes. Forums to cover issues of water legislation reform and public participation mechanisms in environmental decision making were conducted and rehabilitation of groundwater monitoring points was completed in all nine clusters and 69 monitoring points.
In FY 2008, USG assistance:
- Supported the completion of four rural reconstruction projects benefiting 2,370 people. The humanitarian program also completed delivery and distribution of 30 containers of humanitarian aid containing medicines, medical supplies, equipment, clothing, household supplies, and hygiene and school kits. The program also continued its vaccination program in cooperation with national and international agencies, providing services to more than 3,300 people. In FY 2008, 513,479 people benefited from the humanitarian assistance program.
Success StoriesIncreased Municipal Collaboration with Civil Society – Five cities and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs approved social partnership frameworks for collaboration with civil society organizations in decision making and service provision. Two of the five municipalities provided funding to civil society organizations through competitive processes and three added earmarks to their 2009 budgets for activities.
Armenian Community Based Initiatives Helps Thousands – In FY 2008 the USG rehabilitated 29 facilities prioritized by local communities and municipalities, including schools, kindergartens, water systems, cultural centers and more, providing vital community infrastructure. In addition these projects provided short-term jobs, increased community and local government capacity for project management, and provided on-the-job vocational training. The USG leveraged resources by requiring a community match, and collaborated with other donors, partners, and international organizations to maximize project impact. Renovations supported improved services to 105,000 vulnerable beneficiaries, increasing access to social, medical, and public services. Through one project, 162 unemployed, mostly young adults received vocational training, of which 112 graduates gained full-time employment in the construction sector. Over the life of the USG’s Community Self-Help Fund Program (2003 -2008), USG assistance supported completion of 66 community-based projects resulting in upgraded rural infrastructure: kindergartens, schools, art and music centers, health facilities, irrigation and drinking water systems. Over 78,000 people directly benefited from the program. Communities contributed an average of 38 percent of the projects’ total cost.