We have not won poverty but poverty won us

Aharon Adibekyan (Independent Sociological Research Center Sociometr)
Svetlana Aslanyan (Center for the Development of Civil Society)

I. Introduction

Armenia adopted the “UN Millennium Declaration” in 2000. It was obvious that the goals cannot be comprehensive, and each country should determine its current problems, especially if the solution is defined by the Constitution and other laws and international obligations. As a result of MDG local adaptation the following goals: “Achieve universal primary education”, “Contribute to gender equality and empowerment of women” were not recognized as the first order priority since the Constitution obliges the state to ensure that all citizens work, have a decent standard of living, access to all levels of education, professional training, health care and healthy living conditions, etc.

However despite these two goals weren’t emphasized as priority ones some achievements were observed with respect to these spheres, we will refer them in the report.

II. Realization of Millennium Development Goals in Armenia 2001-2011

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger 

The goal Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger” in Armenian reduction was extended and expressed as “Eliminate extreme poverty and hunger; provide a full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and youth”. The statement provided opportunity to incorporate women and youth with respect to poverty. For real protection of constitutional guarantees of a number of laws have been adopted:"On social protection of disabled people" (1993), "The care and maintenance" (1996), "On the rights of the child" (1996), "On employment" '(1997), "On mandatory insurance of the population" (1997)", On mandatory insurance of the population" (1997), "On wages" (2001), "Social protection of children deprived of parental care" (2002), “On the state pensions”(2002), “On insurance” (2004), "On obligatory social assistance for the cases of temporary unemployment” (2005), “On social support” (2005), "On the state allowances” (2005). In addition the “National Program for the Development of Education in 2001 and 2005” was also adopted in 2000, focused on higher education and Bologna Process and the National Action Plan on Improving the Status of Women and Enhancing Their Role in Society (2004-2010) were adopted.
In 2001 “Poverty Reduction Strategy” was adopted by the Government of the Republic of Armenia.
For realization the six selected goals were divided to 45 tasks, which were combined in 13 groups are reflected in the following table.

MDG

N

2015 local Millennium Development Goals

Results

Impact

1

 

Reduce the poverty level in relation to 1999.

 

 

1

To reduce the number of people with the income lower than $2.5 per diem.

 

PD

The percent of the poor in the population:

1999 – 56,0%
2006 – 26,5%
2009 – 34,1%

 

2

Achieve an average European level Gross Domestic Product per 1 person

2001 – $2400
2006 –$3900
2010- $6300

PD

 

3

Relation of budget allocations to family allowances to the gap with the poor

16.0 milliard: GDP 3.2%

D

 

4

Ginni income coefficient of 20% richest/ 20% the poorest

2002- 0,451
2010 – 0,362

PD

 

5

Relation of the number of poor outside the capital to the number of the poor in the capital

2005. - 117%

PD

 

7

The number of people with the energy consumption below the lower level in proportion to the general one

15% -120 kw per family in a month

PD

 

8

Involvement to school

100%

D

 

9

Budget allocation to education

growth 1.9%

D

 

10

The number of students having got higher education meeting international standards in comparison to the total number of the students.

No data

PD

 

11

The level of access to college and vocational education for the poor families.

No data

D

 

12

Access to higher education for the poor families.

State Support Program-2013

PD

 

13

The number of women-deputies in the National Assembly, ministers, deputy ministers, heads of marzes.

 deputies – 5.3%
minister/vice-minister - 7%

PD

 

14

Women among community leaders.

Head of village- 2%
Assistant head of village - 2%

ND

 

15

The number of unemployed women to the integrate number of women

60 %

HD

4

 

The death-rate of children at the age up to 5yearshas decreased in comparison to that of 1990.

ND

 

16

The death-rate of children at the age up to 5yearsin proportion to the 1000 of the newborn,

1990- 18.5
2003 -13.4
2006- 14.0

ND

 

17

The death-rate of children at the age below 1 year in proportion to the 1000 of the newborn.

2003 - 11.8
2006 - 12.3

ND

 

18

Involvement to inoculation.

93.5%

PD

5

6

Reducing maternal mortality on 3/4

ND

 

19

Maternal mortality in relation to 1000 newborn

0.5

ND

 

20

Number of abortions per 100 births x1000

2001 -32,2% /
2005 – 29% /
2010 - 27%10.9

ND

6

7

Combat HIV / AIDS spread

 

 

21

HIV / AIDS spread in women

0

ND

 

22

The number of people having exact understanding of HIV / AIDS among youth at the age 15-24.

 

D

 

8

Preventing spread of malaria and other main illness.

PD

 

23

Number of sick persons with tuberculosis per 100000 population

2001- 152.0
2005 – 200.5
2010 – 113.6

ND

 

24

Number of sick person with the diagnosis and DOTS per 100000 population

2003 - 44.7
2001 – 35.3
2005 – 62.3
2010 - 40.6

D

7

9

Application of sustainable development principles and programs and counteract to the procedure of natural resources waste

 

 

25

The share of woody area

1990 - 12.7 (4.000.000 ha)
2006 - 11.2%-Á (60000ha)
Restoration per annum
2003 – 700 / 2006 – 3000 ha

PD

 

26

The share of reservations

reservations - 47% (218.000 ha)
protected areas 2003 (81.700 ha)
2006 (89.400 ha )

D

 

29

Increasing the level of water in the lake Sevan

1m 60 cm

D

 

10

Reduce the share of people without access to the safe drinking water

ND

 

31

Accessibility of the safe drinking water for rural population

2003-50% / 2006 - 75%

ND

 

32

People with delivered water

-

 

 

33

The part of population with opportunity to use an improved sewage system

65%

ND

 

11

To improve housing conditions of the population

 

 

 

34

Dwellings/temporary lodgments 1000 –improving of living conditions for 1.3% of families

31300-4450/29.000-664
14.6%/2.3%

PD

 

35

The weight of communities having more than 300 householders provided with natural gas

50%

ND

8

12

Guarantee such a level of governing, civil rights and responsibilities, human rights and protection that will assist to External Development Aid growth and its effective use

 

 

36

Index of freedom of the press

Freedom House 2003- 4.4
2005- 5,4

ND

 

37

Freedom of business
Freedom of trade
Tax freedom
Investment freedom
Financial freedom
Freedom from the government
Freedom from corruption
Freedom of work 

84.5% (max – 100%)
75.6%
93.1%
60.0%
70.0%
91.6%
29.0
80.9%

D

 

38

Index of the government efficiency

 

D

 

39

Index of the prevalence of law

 

PD

 

40

Index of the corruption comprehension

2.9 (93 place in the world)

PD

 

41

Tax income with respect to GDP

2003 – 9.7% / 2006 - 8.4%

D

 

13

Make available innovations in technology, information communication

 

 

42

The number of wire/ cell phone subscribers/ owners per hundred residents

2003 –57
2006 - 60

I

 

43

The number of personal computer users per 100 residents

Availability – 60%

I

 

44

The number of the Internet users per 100 residents.

2001 – 40000
2005 – 152000
2010 - 204000

I

 

45

Public awareness on MDG

 

ND

Participation of public and business in MDG implementation

 

ND

Note: Some lines in the table left blank since no data is available.

Obviously, the implementation of MDG had sufficient institutional basis, but it still was a challenge not only for the Government, but also for the private sector and civil society. Therefore, the actions of the Government had: Direct (D - direct), partly direct (PD - partly direct), (ND - non-direct) and indirect (I-indirect) effects. Non direct effect means establishment of favorable conditions for activities of the private sector or NGO, from which all the society benefits.Thus, the influence of the government of the RA on the target problems implementation was the following: Direct – 10, Partly direct – 12, Indirect – 17, Insignificant – 3:.

Such differentiation of the Government impact allows us to make exact distinction among shares of the government, private sector and civil society responsibilities in the processes of MDG implementation. The approach is important also in clarifying the extent at which it was possible to provide public participation in implementation of the MDG through providing public awareness and promotion.

2. Employment and social situation of the population

Armenia’s economy was Industrial before the collapse of the USSR; its basis was constituted by the high-tech industries - chemistry, mechanical engineering, instrumentation and computational technique. Armenia was distinguished with a high scientific potential - more than 250 research institutes, staffed by up to 50 thousand highly qualified specialists. Armenia produced more than 160 types of ready products from the supplied raw materials which were exported to 80 countries. There were about 250 companies of the Military Industrial Complex. The number of employed of the 3.3 million population was 1.5 million: 50% in industry, transport and construction, 13.3% in the agricultural sector, and 26% in the service sector, education and health.

The collapse of the USSR was a catastrophe for Armenian economy: about 1,000 industrial enterprises ceased to function, agricultural associations were disbanded in 1020 agricultural formations, and more than 1 million people got unemployed.

Moreover personal savings of the population put in the Bank were lost and the compensation for victims of the 1988 earthquake had been “frozen”.

All this led to a huge drain on the population, which continues to these days, because there is not a clear and focused program of creating workplaces jobs inside the country. In addition, the Armenian economy is strongly tied to Russian gas and transfers coming from Russia, and in it, like in all post-Soviet states, there are problems with monopolists, shadow economy sector and corruption.
The dynamics of employment for 20 years is as follows:

 

 

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

 

 

mln

%

mln

%

mln

%

mln

%

mln

%

1

Labour resources

2,0

61,0

2,0

67,0

2,3

71,0

2,1

65,6

2,25

69,0

2

Employed

1,6

80,0

1,5

75,0

1,5

65,2

1,1

52,4

1,1

49,0

3

Industry

0,6

39,0

0,3

18,5

0,18

14,0

0,23

12,2

0,12

11,0

4

Construction

0,7

4,7

0,05

3,6

0.03

3,1

0,06

6,0

5

Transport

0,1

7,0

0,05

3,0

0,05

3,6

0,05

4,3

0,05

5,0

6

Agrarian sector

0,3

19,0

0,55

34,0

0,57

44,4

0,51

47,0

0,5

45,3

7

Service

0,5

33,0

0,45

28,0

0,3

31.0

0,31

31.0

0,33

30,0

8

Unemployed

0,4

20,0

0,5

25,0

0,9

34,8

0,85

47,6

1,2

51,0

9

Registered unemployed

-

-

0,1

6,7

0,17

11,7

0,1

8,2

0,08

7,0

 

Employed by European standards

 

 

 

 

 

38,4

 

31,6

 

19,0

 

The table demonstrates that the numbers of employed reduced from 80% to 49%, what is more only 100,000 were officially registered that is each tenth from unemployed which correspond to each fifth proceeding from European standards. In reality the inflation outstrips income growth, which continues to be quite low: the average salary of about $ 250, the pension - about $ 80. Meanwhile, 35% of households are poor and 15% of them are extremely poor - living on less than 35,000AMD (about $30) a month per person while the consumer basket is 53,000AMD(about $132) .

According to Vahagn Khachatryan “about 60% of income of the population of Armenia goes to paying of municipal services, food, and partly to buying clothes. Most of the people are deprived from purchasing of furniture, televisions, and more. I’m not talking about pensioners”.

Ratings of the Armenian economy by foreign observers and jurisdictions sometimes strongly differ. On one hand, Armenia takes rather good, i.e. the 32-th position in the ranking of Doing Business of World Bank, while in the ranking of economic liberalization Index of Economic freedom Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation it is on the 39th place. //The analyst of Forbes, Daniel Fisher , in 2011 put Armenia in the second place in the ranking of the worst economies in the world based on statistics of the IMF for the preceding three years. The expert came to such pessimistic conclusions proceeding from total Armenia's dependence on Russian gas, catastrophic "blow" of the Armenian construction "bubble" in 2009, the high inflation rate, GDP per capita of $3,000.However Fisher is convinced that in 2012, Armenia will leave this anti-rating.

3. Environmental factors forced economic migration and the civil society

Despite Armenia ratify the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought in 1997 and the adoption in 2002 of the “ National Program of Action to Combat Desertification in Armenia" and implementation of special conservation programs continues to accelerate the process of desertification, according to UN experts Armenia described as "damaged" by desertification. 82% of the land fund of Armenia is subject to varying degrees of degradation.

This is facilitated by such factors as: climatic conditions, illegal logging for domestic heating and cooking because of the constant rise in prices for electricity and gas, short-sighted organization of agricultural work, which generally leads to water logging, salinization and erosion of the soil, a weak monitoring of compliance with standards, land use and the impossibility of conducting large-scale pro-ecological activities; mining open pit, the production of ore concentrates and as a result - forests and fields turn into a career, increase the area of tailings and polluted rivers.

For Armenia, this development is disastrous because: only about 20% of agricultural lands is arable land, while the remaining 80% of the territory - a mountainous area, 10% of which is covered by forests. The reduction of land forces farmers to violate the rules of irrigation and use chemical fertilizers, which leads to land degradation and hence to further even greater reduction in area.

Thus the vicious circle is formed due to gradual reduction of agricultural land. As a consequence the income of farmers reduces, which leads to an increase in the number of poor. According to the special investigations Independent Sociological Research Center Sociometr below the poverty line are about 40% of rural households, mainly subsistence farming and produce nothing for the market. 35% of farmers manage to put some of their products, and only 23-25% works in a market that is very important, as the market has a positive regulatory function.
The observed out-migration from rural areas and the continuing pace of emigration outside of Armenia are the result of high levels of poverty of rural families, and poverty - the result of climatic and environmental factors.

4. Women in decision making

Transition from the Soviet mandate to the Armenian national mandate resulted in steady diminution woman’s role as a leader and in negation of even symbolic equality of soviet system . The Survey on Public Perception on Public Services/MDGs at local level initiated by UNDP , demonstrated that public opinion with respect to women rights prescribes positive trends to individual women’s efforts while negative tendencies to traditional style of society life. On the whole the public opinion reflects lack of capability for all sides to incorporate women’s rights in real life. The state attempts to improve the situation have had no significant results. Gender asymmetry is visible in a political realm even now. The figures provide evidence that women still continue work on subordinate positions as it was in Soviet time. Women are not represented even in local self-government bodies, though they make majority of voters.

To achieve even small results it is urgent that the Government and the Parliament make decision, that a special part “gender equality and extending women’s right “ l be envisioned in all programs of power bodies activities. 

III. Conclusion

Despite the fact that Armenia ratified numerous UN conventions and adopted several laws, to guarantee implementation of international obligations taken by the government almost all of them remained on the paper, since there were no mechanisms, resources, money for their implementation. Even parliamentary hearings devoted to ratification of the “Convention on Discrimination against Women” and “Convention on Women’s Political Rights” organized by CDCS jointly with other NGO’s on which it was suggested to develop the action plan, but it remained as wish. It is obvious that international organizations have no effective mechanisms to contribute to realization of obligations that governments had taken. They don’t have any levers to control or anyhow influence on process even when an urgent issues is raised and optimal solutions are suggested. It revealed that interests of local oligarchs dominated over the national priorities.

With respect to poverty, which is a complex issue simultaneous action of the government, social activists and the community are required and small steps towards equality based development of country are preferable.
From my personal observations I conclude that the programs initiated for eradicating poverty and achieving equality were sentenced to fail, since they are not focused on human being, that is the program results are not tied to improvement of real life of people.

Notes:

The Currency is given in today’s rate

Daniel Fisher, «The World's Worst Economies». 2nd Article, In «Forbes» 5 July, 2012.
(see also: http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2011/07/05/the-worlds-worst-eco...)

The participation of women in political life became the basic postulate of communist ideology. In order to implement that ideology, a fixed number of places (quota) were picked out for women in legislative and executive bodies. For example, under the communist regime in Armenia, the quota of women in Parliament was 36%. However, this seemingly wide political participation of women during the Soviet times represents a wrong picture in terms of women’s actual participation, since women were not included in the decision-making bodies process and were not included in the highest structures of the country. For example, in the Politburo only once was one woman over almost 75 years of its existence.

In 2006

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