Op-Ed by USAID Armenia Mission Director
Partners and Friends,
It is my great honor to lead the USAID Mission in Armenia.
Since 1992, USAID has partnered with the Government of Armenia and its citizens to address a variety of challenges. Over 25 years, USAID assistance and USAID’s partnership with Armenia has evolved to respond to Armenia’s changing needs in its transition to a modern democratic society and a free-market economy. USAID has provided over $1 billion USD to improve the lives of the Armenian people, supporting their efforts to strengthen democratic, economic, and social governance.
Following Armenia’s devastating earthquake in 1988, USAID contributed to an international response to provide food, shelter, medicine and fuel to those in need. Upon Armenia’s independence in 1992, the USAID Mission in Armenia was established, and the USAID-Armenia partnership formally began with programs providing humanitarian assistance.
In the late 1990s, USAID assistance transitioned from humanitarian assistance, or “relief,” to long-term, sustainable development. USAID partnered with the Armenian Government through programs implemented by international organizations to implement macro-economic reforms and liberalize markets to foster private sector growth, and rebuild the energy sector. Together we developed democratic institutions, supported the growth of civil society, strengthened the rule of law and implemented reforms to increase the quality of healthcare, improve the social protection system, and enhance the protection of vulnerable children.
As Armenian institutions, public and private, have developed, the USAID-Armenia partnership has evolved. USAID programs are now largely implemented by local organizations and support Armenian-led initiatives. USAID works directly with the Armenian Government, Armenian organizations and private sector, and coordinates closely with other international donors and organizations to address remaining development challenges. Together we promote economic growth through rural development in agri-business and tourism, and provide support for civil aviation, energy independence, and information technology. We promote democracy and improved governance through local governance reform, anti-corruption efforts, and support for civil society, independent media, and the protection of human rights. Together we promote child welfare reform, an inclusive education system, and work to reduce the burden of tuberculosis and maternal and child mortality.
The long-term goal of the U.S. Government is to transition its relationship with Armenia from one of aid to one of trade. USAID is proud of its partnership with Armenia, and of its evolution over the past 25 years. We are committed to building on our successes in working towards a more engaged, prosperous, and well governed Armenian society.
USAID’s partnership with the Government of Armenia, its citizens, international and local partners has yielded impressive results. Together we have:
· Provided permanent housing to 7,000 families who lost their homes following the 1988 earthquake.
· Established a competitive private sector by implementing macro-economic reforms and liberalizing markets including the creation of a viable financial sector, the Central Bank of Armenia, legal and regulatory systems, and improved access to finance.
· Supported the transformation of the energy sector through the privatization and metering of electricity generation and distribution, the creation of the Public Service Regulatory Commission to regulate the energy, water and telecom sectors, and the Least Cost Energy Plan used to guide strategic development in the sector.
· Transformed tax regulations and administration of the tax code to increase transparency and modernize Armenia’s tax collection infrastructure, offering better, more efficient services to businesses and prospective investors.
· Strengthened rural economies and increased jobs by promoting rural entrepreneurship, facilitating trade and improving access to local and regional markets for rural businesses.
· Established democratic institutions such as civil society, political parties, local government, independent media, and rule of law and built their capacity to engage citizens in decision-making and provide better public services.
· Improved access to quality health care for Armenian citizens by extending free primary health care and maternity services, strengthening the Ministry of Health institutionally, improving provider skills, and equipping and renovating two-thirds of Armenia’s neediest rural health facilities.
· Strengthened social safety nets and improved efficiency and transparency in social protection systems, including establishment of the “114” hotline to provide assistance to citizens regarding all social service resources.
· Launched the American University of Armenia and supported its growth to an institution that trains Armenia’s future leaders, encourages civic engagement, and promotes democratic values.
· Modernized the Armenian American Wellness Center to become a state-of-the-art diagnostic facility now providing a host of health services to men and women.
· Transformed a variety of public and private institutions into leading innovation, entrepreneurial, educational and research hubs: the Microsoft Innovation Center, the Armenian National Engineering Laboratories and the Innovative Solutions and Technologies Center.