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Sida's work in Armenia

In Armenia Sida works to strengthen democracy, increase respect for human rights and reduce the country’s climate impact. The work also aims at improving the opportunities to earn a living.

Progress has been made

New political leadership

The country’s new political leadership is addressing major obstacles to development such as corruption, weak rule of law and lack of respect for human rights and gender equality.

Increased revenues from tourism

Before the COVID-19-pandemic, economic growth was healthy,1 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.

Reduced corruption

Even if the level of corruption is still high, the development is going in the right direction. The country has gone from place 105/180 in 2018 to place 60 in 2020 in Transparency International’s corruption index.2

Challenges remain

Environment needs more protection

Armenia lacks a well-functioning national waste management system, which means the presence of many unregulated landfills. In addition, the country’s mines are operated in an unsustainable manner.

Lack of rule of law

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

Economic downturn

The economic recovery after the covid-19 pandemic is hampered by an aging population, high emigration and tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan that make investors hesitate.3

Reform 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. Total exports have increased by 70 percent since 2015.4 Unemployment is high5 and  in rural areas many people live below the national poverty line. 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,6 is one reason why so many Armenians leave the country. In a 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’ website

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 114th out of 146 countries in the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index 2021, which is a great deterioration in only one year. It remains to be seen what the new government’s reforms will mean for democratic development in Armenia.

Support for the 2021 election

In June 2021, a by-election was held in Armenia, following the political crisis in the aftermath of the war in Nagorno Karabach. Sida provided support for the election process through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Through observers from the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA) among others, Sweden was able to monitor that the election went democratically correctly.

The FBA website

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 and an independent judiciary. The program also promotes equality and respect for human rights in Parliament and in the laws that are enacted.

UNDP website

Stronger rights for women and hbtqi people

Political developments have contributed to the continued exposure of LGBTQI people in Armenia. Sida therefore supports civil society organizations that work for the rights of women and LGBTQI people in various ways, including by influencing public opinion and politicians. They also provide legal aid to people who have been subjected to violence and attacks.

UNDP website

Support for NGO:s working with human rights

Human rights are to some extent neglected in Armenia. Together with the Euroasia Partnership Foundation (EPF), Sida supports organisations working for human rights, nondiscrimination, non-violence, anti-corruption and environmental issues.

Euroasia Partnership Foundation website

Improving the environment and reducing climate change

Armenian waste management is substandard and the country lacks a comprehensive functioning recycling system. The economically vital mining industry needs to be managed in a more sustainable way both from an environmental and 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. To reduce the country´s dependence on energy from nuclear power, Sida supports a number of projects aimed at reducing energy consumption and improving the environment in Armenia through the E5P (Eastern European Energy Efficiency and Environmental Partnership) fund. Projects for improved waste management and energy-efficient street lighting are being implemented and a project for environmentally friendly city buses in Yerevan has started.

Reduces energy consumption with LED lights

Street lighting in Armenia’s cities is often not energy efficient and does not work well. In Armenia’s second city, Gyumri, Sida, together with the European Bank for Reconstruction (EBRD), is helping to renovate the city’s lighting. By replacing old mercury lamps with energy efficient LEDs, both energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.

EBRD website

Governance of Sida's development cooperation in Armenia

The Strategy for Sweden’s reform cooperation with Armenia (2021–2027) is currently only available in Swedish on the Swedish government webpage

Updated: November 29, 2021