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Sida's work in Armenia

Until 1991, Armenia was a republic of the Soviet Union. Since independence, many Armenians have chosen to leave their homeland due to poverty and lack of belief in the future. The goals of Sida’s development cooperation with Armenia are to strengthen democracy, increase respect for human rights, reduce the country’s climate impact and improve the opportunities of the people to earn a living.

Sida's support to Armenia 2020

Progress has been made

New political leadership

The country’s new political leadership has expressed a willingness to address major obstacles to development such as corruption, weak rule of law and lack of respect for human rights and gender equality. It remains to be seen if the Armenian Government can deliver any concrete results.

Increased revenues from tourism

Before the coronavirus pandemic, economic growth was healthy, a situation that can be linked to increased revenue from, among other things, tourism, as well as the modernisation of sectors such as information technology. This economic upturn has improved the living standards of many Armenians.

Ceasefire – but the conflict remains unresolved

In the fall of 2020, an open war over Nagorno-Karabakh broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Since 10 November, there is ceasefire agreement. In the aftermath of the war, there are a number of unresolved issues that are manifested through expressions of dissatisfaction in the country.

Challenges remain

Widespread impunity

The Armenian judiciary is criticised for a lack of independence, including widespread impunity for the police and military.

Political turbulence

Political turbulence, expressions of discontent and demonstrations have erupted since the signing of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace treaty. Major challenges remain with regard to human rights, both in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

High youth unemployment

Youth unemployment is high and the Armenian economy is notable for its inequities.

Development cooperation in Armenia

Armenia is located in the Caucasus Mountains that run between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. The country is in an earthquake zone and was badly hit by a severe earthquake in 1988. Following this devastating earthquake and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict during the 1990s, living standards plummeted until, by the middle of the decade, it was estimated that half of the country’s citizens were living below the poverty threshold. Although conditions have improved significantly since then, there are still major differences in welfare between urban and rural areas.

Economic development

While the Armenian economy is still dominated by the agricultural sector, the IT sector is growing year by year. Unemployment is high and one in every four Armenians in rural areas lives in poverty. Corruption is a major problem in the business sector, the judicial system and public administration.

More jobs for vulnerable groups

High unemployment, especially among young people, is one reason why so many Armenians choose to leave the country. In a new collaboration with the Swiss aid agency Helvetas, Sida supports women, young people and other disadvantaged groups to obtain the necessary qualifications to enter the labour market.

Helvetas web page

Human rights, gender equality and democratic development

Democratic development in Armenia is slow-moving, respect for human rights is lacking and women are systematically discriminated against. Armenia is ranked 98th out of 146 countries in the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index. What exactly the new government’s reforms mean for democratic development in Armenia remains to be seen.

Increased transparency in politics

The Armenian Government has expressed its willingness to get to grips with corruption and the weak judiciary. Through support to the UNDP, Sida contributes to efforts to achieve greater political transparency, an independent judiciary and an approach that includes the country’s entire population, even groups previously excluded.

UNDP:s web page

Stronger rights for women

Women are systematically discriminated against in Armenia, especially in rural areas. Sida supports the work of the UNDP to promote gender equality and respect for human rights, both in parliament itself and in the work of parliamentarians and the laws they enact.

UNDP:s web page

Support for NGO:s

Generally speaking, civil society organisations are relatively free to go about their business, as long as they steer clear of issues deemed controversial, such as LGBTQI rights. Together with the Euroasia Partnership Foundation, Sida supports organisations working for human rights, nondiscrimination, nonviolence, anti-corruption and environmental issues.

Euroasia Partnership Foundations web page

Improving the environment and reducing climate change

Armenian waste management is substandard and the country lacks a functioning recycling system. The economically vital mining industry is not managed sustainably from either an environmental or a work environment perspective. A large proportion of Armenia’s energy needs are met by imports of Russian gas and oil.

Reduced energy consumption

The Armenian energy sector is underdeveloped and the country’s electricity grid is heavily dependent on the Medzamor Nuclear Power Plant – often referred to as the most hazardous nuclear power plant in the world. Via the Eastern European Energy Efficiency and Environmental Partnership (E5P) , Sida supports a number of projects aimed at reducing energy consumption and improving the environment in Armenia.

E5P:s web page

Better waste management

Waste management is a major problem in Armenia. Sida supports an investment project in the capital, Yerevan, aimed at improving waste management in the city and surrounding region. This project is being conducted in collaboration with E5P, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

European Investment Bank (EIB) web page

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) web page

Reduces energy consumption with LED lights

The energy efficiency and technology in street lighting is substandard in several Armenian cities. In Armenia’s second city, Gyumri, Sida and the EBRD are contributing to the renovation of the city’s street lights, replacing old mercury lamps with energy efficient LEDs to reduce energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

EBRD:s web page

Governance of Sida's development cooperation in Armenia

Sida resumed development cooperation with Armenia in 2019. After the ‘velvet’ revolution of 2018, a new and more reform-minded government came to power, which made it possible to extend Sweden’s reform cooperation strategy for Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans and Turkey for the period 2014–2020 to include Armenia. The aid budget for 2020 is SEK 35 million.

Updated: 28 April 2021