Commenting on priority issues facing Askeran today, Albert Avanesyan, head of the region’s Urban Development Department, identified the potable-water problem as the most urgent. Currently drinking water reaches Askeran City through rusted pipes and at minimal volume – due to water loss caused by an extensively damaged network. Askeran’s aging sewer system is also in a state of disrepair, posing serious health risks.
Avanesyan added that another obstacle affecting the growth of the city is the recent decline in the number of marriages, a phenomenon brought on by the lack of affordable housing, he said.
With the earthwork already completed, construction crews are now rebuilding Askeran’s internal water-distribution system by installing new pipes, which by the project’s end will cover the network’s close to six-kilometer overall length. Also to be built are a 50-meter-long embankment along the shore of the Badara River, meant to prevent riverbank collapse, and a water-purification station. Finally, the project will include the reconstruction of two water reservoirs (with a total capacity of 1,000 cubic meters) and the sewer network.
“As the lack of access to water remains a critically urgent issue in both Armenia and Artsakh, the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund is committed to helping address the problem as a matter of highest priority,” said Ara Vardanyan, the fund’s executive director. “We are deeply grateful to our compatriots across Europe, whose generous contributions during the 2009 Pan-European Phoneathon made the Askeran infrastructure project possible.”
Nestled in northeastern Artsakh, the Askeran Region borders Azerbaijan on the east. Of the area’s some 17,600 residents, 2,100 live in Askeran City.
The Askeran Region is home to a number of major commercial companies including Artsakh Alco (a manufacturer of alcoholic beverages), Artsakh Fruit (a producer of fruits and vegetables), Varanda (a maker of barrels and hardwood flooring), as well as a alabaster factory. These enterprises employ close to 260 area residents. Products made by Artsakh Alco and Varanda are also exported.
Agriculture continues to be a vital component of Askeran’s economy. The area produces significant quantities of pomegranates, grapes, and cereal crops, which are packed at local food-processing centers. Lately Askeran farmers have begun efforts to grow watermelons as well.
Notable among Askeran’s historic monuments is the 18th-century Mayraberd fortress. Another community institution is the Surb Astvatsatsin Church, built in 2003.
Currently three projects financed by the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s French affiliate are nearing completion. They include the construction of the Chartar Village school (Martuni Region, Artsakh), construction of an internal potable-water network in Sos Village (Martuni), and construction of a regional cardiology center in Akner, near Goris (Syunik Region, Armenia).
Two additional projects financed entirely or in part by the French affiliate will be launched within the next few months. They are the reconstruction of the Muratsan School (Shushi) and reconstruction of the Aygehovit-Vazashen irrigation network (Tavush Region, Armenia). The latter initiative is sponsored jointly by the fund’s French and Argentinean affiliates.