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Creating sustainable settlements in the Kashatakh district

Kashatagh
Azerbaijan

 

In the early 1990s, as a result of the armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakhmany civilians were compelled to leave their houses and move to the Kashatakh region of Nagorno-Karabakh (a territory of 3377 m2, population 9763). The internally displaced people (refugees) have managed, to some extent, to regulate their lives after being displaced from their homes.

 

The Menq Union for Farmers’ Mutual Aid (FMAU), established in 2003 and ongoing, has been among the first organizations to provide systemized and coordinated support to the settlers of the rural areas in the Kashatakh region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The ‘Handover’ pilot project implemented among the settlers in Nagorno-Karabakh aims to assist newly settled households and relieve the settlers’ hardships connected with housing, establishing farms, and developing stable sources of income. During seven years of operation, it has proven to be a successful social entrepreneur through its ‘handover’ funding-regenerating projects on cattle-breeding, apiculture, and poultry farming. The union has provided more than 50 families in various villages with a regular means of income, and has coordinated the development of apiculture. At present, six families’ main occupation is honey-bee keeping with over 3000 kg of honey produced annually.

 

Apart from its development projects, the Menq FMAU is also involved in a social assistance program, providing lump sum payments for new born children throughout the union’s beneficiary families.

 

Financing

 

The organization and project is funded through membership fees and private donationsCommunity involvement in the settlers’ aid projects should also be highlighted. Many community activists and users of social networks and bloggers are involved as volunteers in organizing book collection campaigns for the school libraries of Kashatakh region and fundraising for primary school stationery and sporting items. With growing assistance, the union would be able to extend the activities directed to farmers’ aid to horticulture development, and to apply the existing experience of the farmers’ mutual aid union and community activists’ involvement in the southern areas of Kashatakh region.

 

Obstacles

 

However, there are a number of obstacles that still must be overcome, including the poor condition of the infrastructure of many villages, including roads, electricity, water, and irrigation; limited financial resources; and natural and weather conditions.

 

The Menq FMAU is a non-governmental organization founded by and offering assistance to farmers in the Kashatakh region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The seven-year experience of Menq FMAU activities testifies to the effectiveness of civil initiatives if goals and objectives are clearly set, and a professional approach and sincere dedication are turned into a working style. After the depression and misery the refugees underwent as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, they feel significant relief to see they are not left alone to address such extremely difficult problems as housing, establishing households, and providing for a regular income.