Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Heating 21 Schools in Syunik Marz

This program is associated with the work with the Armenian State Water Committee, when the water authorities were persuaded to reduce the water pressure in Yerevan’s distribution pipeline and to upgrade the system of Booster Pumps.

Persuading the Armenian authorities to do anything worthwhile for their citizens is not an easy task; they would prefer that water and mud continues to swill throughout Yerevan’s streets, so that a suitable donor can be found to provide $400 million for more project work. But a person with a questionable reputation, but with enviable clout, understood the problem and supported the effort. That person was Suren Sergeivich Khachatryan, Marzpet of Syunik Marz, who is well known for his specific way of performing his duties, but who has a basic human quality that too many in central government could never understand. Suren’s support for the project led to something very well worthwhile for Yerevan’s water consumers.

But what he doesn't know is that his good deed for Yerevan led to improvements for the people of the Syunik Marz.

The Syunik Marz is capable of providing nearly all of Armenia’s electricity needs. That is from the Vorotan Hydro-Cascade, which comprises of four hydro-stations in the Syunik Marz, with a total capacity of about 430 megawatts, plus water is now delivered from the Syunik Marz, through the recently completed Jermuk – Sevan tunnel, to feed the Hrazdan Hydro-cascade, a further four hydro plants with a total of about 550 megawatt capacity.

The quirk is that the people of Syunik receive absolutely no benefit for this questionable privilege. To the contrary, because of the high altitudes, they suffer from the longest and hardest winters in any region of Armenia. Syunik has one of the highest percentages of people living under the poverty line in Armenia, and the people of Syunik burn more wood through the winter months than almost any other Marz.

The Project management Unit Director of the of the World Bank school heating project heard of Suren’s good deed and considered that an effort should be made to reduce the hardship the people of Syunik Marz suffer through their long, hard, cold winter months. In 2005 she arranged a pilot program to heat five Syunik schools.

Today, thanks to a good deed that Marzpet Khachatrian did for the people of Yerevan, twenty-one schools in the Syunik Marz have been included in the World Bank funded schools heating project.

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