Armenia has been gifted by huge amount of mineral wealth, mining of which has been increasing over the recent years. Unfortunately, the heavy industry based on non-ferrous metals brings huge risk for the environment and the health of local population.
Usually, serious problems occur alongside mining areas and related factories, due to common use of poisonous chemicals, which then contribute to significant contamination of surrounding soil and water. The extracted ore is later being processed in plants producing also large levels of toxic waste. Such dangerous material must be treated with serious caution to avoid any consequences caused harm to nature or settlers living close by. Unfortunately, all over the world we have experienced a disturbing ignorance of the industry members who are not willling to invest into security and protection processes. Our main goal is to monitor the situation and to enforce protection of the environment and of Armenian people.
In 2018, Arnika has teamed up with local non-governmental organization Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment and the informational organization Ecolur. Together, we are supporting people living in neighbourhood of mines, toxic lakes and factories and promote their initiatives to protect the environment. We are helping local people with analysing the situation and launching the campaign for future improvement. Thanks to the Transition programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, we are able to share our experience and fight for toxics-free world also in Armenia.
Poverty in rural areas and unsatisfactory chemical safety situation
We've been working in Armenia for several years now. That's not surprising consider the historical development in the area during 20th century the modren-time consequences it has brought on this transcaucasian country. The past had not been always keen here in the "cradle of life". Hence Arnika's activities in Armenia since 2010.
Help the rural communities to implement sustainable agriculture and eliminate the danger of chemical pollution in Ararat and Armavir regions. That is the main goal of the new project "Scaling Up Experience in Improvement of Chemical Safety to Contribute to Poverty Reduction in Rural Armenia" of the Czech not-for profit organization Arnika Association and Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment (AWHHE). Project is focused on finding of technical solutions to eliminate several hot spots contamination by obsolete toxic pesticides caused by their improper management and storage, including so called persistent organic pollutants (POPs). It will also help Armenia to implement international Stockholm Convention.
The problem of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) has existed in Armenia since 1980's, when annually 450-500 tons of pesticides were used in agriculture. In single years the load of pesticides application exceeded the average level of the former Soviet Union by 20 times and made up 9 kg/ha. The most vulnerable territories in term of pesticides load were the following provinces: Ararat (Artashat, Vedi, Masis), Armavir (Armavir, Etchmiadzin), Kotayk (Kotayk, Nairi, Hrazdan), Tavush (Ijevan, Tavush, Noyemberyan), Aragatzotn (Ashtarak), Syunik (Kapan, Meghri) and Vayotz Dzor (Vayk, Yeghegnadzor).
The problem of POPs in Armenia is connected with wide application of chlorine organic compounds, as well as with accumulation of obsolete pesticides, the major part of which was either left in warehouses or buried in an unorganized manner. In 1982 was built the only burial site of obsolete pesticides where more than 500 tons of obsolete pesticides of different groups were buried among which 60 % were persistent compounds: DDT, HCH, etc. Lack of information on toxicity of pesticides and their hazard for health and the environment is explained by the fact that after the collapse of the former Soviet Union the villager remained alone with his problems. At present there is no any coordinated mechanism and also appropriate information materials at local level. With regards to the existing materials, they are not available.
This joint Czech-Armenian project focused mainly on following areas:
- Lack of capacity to solve the problem of pollution by obsolete pesticides
- Lack of information on obsolete pesticides hazard among civil society.
- Low NGOs awareness on the problem.
- Absence of national NGOs work coordination.
- Low public awareness of the problem.
- Lack of information on NGOs financial opportunities.
The poject was supported by the European Union, Czech Development Agency and Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs within the Programme of Czech Development Cooperation, Global Greengrants Fund and IPEN (International POPs Elimination Network). Its content is sole responsibility of Arnika Association and AWHHE and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union and/or other co-sponsors.