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On June 12, 2018, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) signed Grant Arrangement to start the Project titled “Integrated Rural Development for IDP Communities in Azerbaijan through Revitalization of Kahriz Water Supply System”. The purpose of the Project is to increase livelihood opportunities and access to water resources for rural communities in Azerbaijan. The KOICA, as the donor organization of the project, allocated 4.2 million dollars for the rehabilitation of the kahrizes in Aghdam, Aghjabadi, Barda, Fuzuli, Ganja, Gazakh, Ghoranboy, Goygol districts of the Republic of Azerbaijan that are densely populated with IDPs. IOM, as an implementing agency, will renovate kahrizes and rehabilitate irrigation channels within 4 years in targeted areas with up to 8,000 IDPs household residents, by utilizing its worldwide network and experience. The project will also focus on the capacity building and business development.
At the signing ceremony, Mr. Etibar Abdullayev, Chief of Apparatus of the State Committee for Refugee and IDP Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, thanked both KOICA and IOM for their initiative to implement such a project in a IDPs Settlement and underlined that the kahrizes provide not only drinking water to the residents, but also irrigation water in the regions.
In her turn, Ms.Park Kumok, Country Director of the KOICA Office in Azerbaijan, emphasized that Water is vital for human needs, for agriculture, industry, and the environment. She noted that considering Azerbaijan’s national strategy, as well as, the Republic of Korea’s development experience, water management was decided as one of the priority areas between Korean and Azerbaijani Government. The Country Director emphasized that in any country KOICA first identifies supporting areas with the greatest needs of the population. Only after then the agency starts implementing projects in those countries. She also mentioned that when KOICA was submitted a project proposal to be implemented in IDPs Settlement, as the Grant Organization, KOICA prioritized implementation of this Project than others. “Refugees and IDPs issue has always been essential and priority for us” she added.
Ms. Shafa Gasimova, First Secretary, Humanitarian and Social Affairs Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, refreshed the memory on Karabakh issue mentioning that “As of 1988, 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory has been occupied as a result of the armed aggression by the Armenian armed forces. Azerbaijanis were forcefully displaced from their permanent settlements. 1 million refugees and IDPs were a huge burden for the Azerbaijan’s economy. During the past years, several State Programs have been successfully implemented and the planned activities in this field continued. These positive developments were not easily achieved and the problems of IDPs were not totally solved yet. Due to the large scale of the IDP problem in the country the Government of Azerbaijan is still in need of assistance of international organizations and donors. In this respect, I would like to re-express my deep gratitude toward the KOICA for allocating funds for realization such a project in Azerbaijan for IDPs.”
Mr. Serhan Aktoprak, Chief of IOM Mission in Azerbaijan, noted that from the ancient times Azerbaijan has been known as a country with a culture of irrigated agriculture. As there were lots of fertile lands, but with poor river networks in many areas of the country, the needs of irrigation water of these lands could only be met by kahriz systems. Kahrizes are ecologically clean and steady water resources. But, unfortunately, during Soviet times kahrizes were seriously neglected following the introduction of piped water systems and dug wells. Despite that nowadays, much greater attention is paid to kahrizes, which are in harmony with environment being a sustainable technique to tap groundwater without damaging or depleting the aquifer. He also added that with the implementation of this project more than 28.000 individuals living in the IDPs settlement will benefit from the project. He expressed his gratitude to the KOICA and noted that it is already 2nd Joint Project on “Kahriz Rehabilitation” with the KOICA. He extended his hope that throughout the IOM know-how in this field, similar projects could be realized continuously with the support of KOICA.
Afterwards KOICA, IOM and representatives from the Azerbaijan Government took Memorial Group Photo.