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ARMENIA | Gndasar-West Village Communities Taking Big Steps Towards Conservation Agreement

The second phase of the FPA was completed in the village communities of Gndasar-West, near the Gnishik Protected Landscape, and Shahapong Conservation Area.

During the inception phase of a Conservation Agreement, the Financial Participatory Approach (FPA) was adopted as a tool to support the process of collective learning in the target communities. The aim was to empower local communities to manage their own development and take part in a structured dialogue to develop the conservation measures, including building their capacity to implement the future conservation agreements. The methodology was based on the FPA Implementation Manual & Toolbox prepared by the Transboundary Joint Secretariat (TJS). The FPA contributes to the identification of conservation measures and investments to be undertaken by the communities and the negotiation of long-term conservation contracts in a coordinated and participatory manner at minimum costs and maximum ownership.

The aim of an FPA is to empower local communities to manage their own development, building their capacity to implement the conservation agreements.

The first phase of the FPA in this community provided financing in the form of awards and facilitation for the process of setting conservation and development objectives, and exploring different approaches to conservation and rural development. The second phase followed with implementation of small investments identified and proposed by the communities in the first phase. Investments were successfully implemented in 2017 in seven communities across three Armenian provinces (Ararat, Vayots Dzor, Syunik), with a very positive response from the local population.

The community of Artavan decided to improve the road connecting the village to the highway to improve village access and capitalize on eco-tourism potential.

The community of Artavan decided to improve the road connecting the village to the highway to improve the access to the village and capitalize on the strong eco-tourism resources of the community. This was followed by active support from UNDP/GEF Small Grants Programme for the improvement of service infrastructure for tourists such as street lightening, improvement of B&B facilities and the establishment of the eco-tourism camps. Other villages (Tasik, Hors, Arevis) decided to improve the living conditions of the population by improving the access to drinking water. Three communities (Zangakatun, Chiva, Hors) invested the allocated funds in improvement of street lightening. And all communities actively participated in project implementation not only by providing solutions for the well-being of the community but also providing workforce and financial resources from their own budgets that helped both increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the project outcomes.

The investments were followed by a visits from leading Armenian media outlets. TV, radio, and print media visited the FPA-supported conservation areas and the success stories were shared widely through local TV, radio, and social networks. The villages that completed the FPA initiative concluded long-term conservation agreements with WWF to launch sustainable land use practices and became important partners for biodiversity conservation.

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