10:59, 3 May, 2022
YEREVAN, MAY 3, ARMENPRESS. For already 7 years, the USAID-funded Civic Engagement in Local Governance (CELoG) Program has been supporting the increase of civic engagement in decentralization and local self-government reform in Armenia.
It provides citizens with reliable information and strengthens civil society’s capacity to promote effective, accountable and participatory local governance.
The program has been a platform for dialogue between government and residents of the communities.
USAID Project Management Specialist Arthur Drampian said during the ARMENPRESS Podcast program that the program has achieved all its original goals ever since its inception in 2014, and in 2018 additional goals were set.
Drampian said that the cooperation between 6 organizations as part of the program resulted in achieving rather tangible results.
The Program is implemented by a Consortium of local organizations led by the Communities Finance Officers Association (CFOA) in cooperation with the partner organizations: the Information Systems Development and Training Center (ISTDC), the Yerevan Press Club (YPC), the Asparez Journalists' Club (AJC), Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF), and the Caucasus Research Resource Center-Armenia (CRRC).
Drampian said that there was a need for a dialogue platform in 2014 when the territorial and administrative reforms were announced.
“An open and simple conversation around all questions was much needed. There were several questions, concerns, and the residents of the communities had to be given the chance of engaging in an open dialogue with each other, with the community leadership, with representatives of the government and parliament, to collect all opinions and present them to the decision-makers, so that they’d be able to draft the reforms accordingly and implement the merging in a way that the risks get reduced with maximum benefits,” Drampian said. He attached importance to the fact that the program prioritized the involvement of youth.
In 2014, four InfoTuns were already launched under previous programs of the USAID. The InfoTun is a resource center where the youth come together to discuss various issues concerning their communities, learn media-literacy, civic journalism, watch films, engage in discussions and learn about volunteerism.
Another 6 InfoTuns were opened during the 7 years of the CELoG program. Now, one InfoTun functions in every province across Armenia. CELoG program is completed, but the InfoTuns will continue functioning.
Another notable initiative of the program is the School of Local Democracy, a mobile school which is moving from province to province. Participants learn leadership skills, human rights, community service, local self-government and other subjects.
The School of Local Democracy is now registered as a foundation and will continue to work.
“I want to say that we’ve had so many achievements during these 7 years that it is difficult to mention them all, but we can say that the CELoG program left a very serious legacy. I can confidently say that these programs developed a new culture in our communities. The residents and especially the youth in the communities understood and believed that it is possible to be involved in solving community issues, present clear demands and implement a number of reforms in their own communities,” Drampian said.
Podcast host: Gayane Gaboyan
Photos: Hayk Badalyan