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Armenia, like many other former Soviet Union Countries, has a high dependency on overseas remittances. According to the recent report of the Central Bank of Armenia remittances formed about 11 per cent of Armenia’s GDP.
Akner is a small village in Lori province of Armenia which relies on agriculture. However, the lack of a reliable water irrigation system resulted in a high level of migration, mainly to the Russian Federation. The majority of the inhabitants of the village rely on income generated by remittances sent by family members working abroad. As a consequence, the income from circular or seasonal migration often forms the livelihood strategy for these families.
COVID-19 outbreak had a severe impact on thousands of migrants and their families globally. Country lockdowns and travel restrictions left them unable to resume their jobs, which dramatically reduced remittance flows. As one might expect, Akner was hard hit, with around 30 families severely affected due to reduced economic mobility: now they live under the poverty line due to the lack of alternative employment opportunities in the village.
To mitigate the broader social and economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis and to support labour migrants' appropriate living conditions, International Organization for Migration (IOM) Mission in Armenia installed a water irrigation system in Akner with the funding received from the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS). This allowed the inhabitants of Akner to use their resources, to find alternative means of livelihood locally, and to cover their basic needs.
“We are so thankful for this opportunity. I and many others in my village who were labour migrants to the Russian Federation now can overcome these difficulties and work in our home country. After these great improvements my friend and I who moved to the Russian Federation several years ago, returned with our families and are engaged in agricultural activities”, says Vardan, one of the residents of the village.
The lack of water system supply in Akner village left almost 30-hectares land uncultivated for a long time. Since the water issue resolution, three hectares of land is already being used and sustainable financial income has been created for several families.