Posted by: hydroecologist | October 27, 2009

Ararat LEAP completed

Ararat LEAP completed

A combination of two approaches was used in the preparation of the community Environmental Status Report: public and expert.  The basis of the public assessment approach was the information on environmental problems gathered by SC members.  This method implies the data collection from different sources and aims at environmental situation clarification.  It includes surveys of local population and entrepreneurs aiming to highlight their opinion, fears and knowledge of environmental problem reasons. More formalized methods lie in expert assessment, which give scientific and statistically proven picture of environmental situation of the community.

ESR for Ararat was prepared by six experts based on the data and information acquired from from municipality departments, National Statistical Service of RA, internet pages of governmental agencies, as well as from industry, business representatives in course of consecutive meetings. The Report was prepared professionally, but in the same time in comprehendable and understandable manner, accessible for the wide public. ESR then was discussed, edited and finalized with active input and participation during the consecutive Stakeholder Committee meeting.

As stated in the final ESR, the most urgent environmental issue in Ararat is air pollution, mainly from the cement factory and Ararat Gold Mining industry. Among the other priority issues that have been identifed based on the ESR are:

  • Lack of adequate quality drinking water supply
  • Pollution of surface waters
  • Ineffective management of solid waste
  • Deteriorated irrigation system and, as a consequence, lack of green zones in the city
  • Lack of environmental awareness and education among the population.

As a first step of the Action Plan development a vision for the city has been developed: «Healthy environment – healthy city.» List of activities aimed at solving the issues identified in the ESR has been developed based on the input of the Ararat City Stakeholder Committee. The Draft of AP was presented to SC and local authorities. Public hearings were carried out to present the documented for public discussion and get feedback, comments and opinions. After the discussions and public hearing the experts incorporated the recommendations and developed the final version of AP. Ararat LEAP was made accessible to wide public, and then officially handed to the Municipality during a special conference organized on this occasion.

The REC Caucasus and Ararat Municipality have signed a Memorandum of Understanding  which confirmed the readiness of the local government unit for future collaboration targeted at the improvement of environmental situation in the city. Ararat municipality took the responsibility for implementation of the introduced LEAP.

Local Environmental Action Plan developed by the City Stakeholder Council of Ararat includes activities that will be implemented during 2005-2015 in two stages: short-term (completed by 2007) and long-term measures that will be completed by 2015.

Major output of the project activities is the LEAP strategic document for the community and its implementation plan. The LEAP should respond to the need for current challenges and can supplement the existing local strategic and development plans.

The main project outcome is strengthened environmental governance through increased long-term capacity of local institutions to manage and implement community based environmental programs. The pilot community significantly improved its ability to develop local environmental policies, particularly assess environmental issues, establish environmental priorities, identify and a set of actions to address top priority issues on proper way and undertake a broad range of public outreach activities to foster community-wide discussion of the plan.

New mechanisms are established to ensure public participation in environmental decision-making by local government. Due to participatory and collaborative nature of the process strengthening the collaboration among local authorities, residents, business sector and industries, NGOs is expected. Improved citizen access to information, improved transparency and accountability of local government and strengthened citizen involvement in local decision making lead to another important outcome – increased empowerment of local residents and civil society organizations to affect environmental decision making.

As a specific example, a new environmental NGO «Kanach molorak» («Green Planet») has been established and continues active participation in environmental problem solving for the city of Ararat and adjacent communities. The NGO along with more experienced ones, such as the youth NGO “COLSON”, organized environmental camps, visits to Khosrov Reserve, tree-planting and clean up actions in various locations in Ararat area and on Vedi River banks. More than 12 000 people attended these activities.

Successfull debut of Ararat inspired other communities to start implementation of LEAP projects (Qajaran, Gyumri, and Vardenis).


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