Armenia is a small country (land area of 29,800 square kilometers, slightly larger than Maryland) with a population of about 3 million inhabitants. Armenia is located in the Southern Caucasus and bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, Iran to the south, and Azerbaijan to the east and southwest.
Armenia's transition to a market economy has been hampered by the legacy of central planning, severe economic shocks arising from the collapse of the Soviet Union, regional conflicts and the limited ability and/or political will of decision makers to undertake critical reforms to restructure the economy. In addition, Armenia suffered an earthquake on December 7, 1988 that resulted in more than 25,000 deaths and left approximately 100,000 households (530,000 people) without shelter.
USAID/Armenia has designed a three-year program to support the Government of Armenia with reconstruction and urban development in the northeastern regions of the country. Program implementation began in August 2001 and will continue through August 2004. Part of that three year program is a two week study tour of urban planning for senior government officials. This study tour will be produced by Global Education Services, a nonprofit in Seattle, Washington.
Global Education Services will provide a group of Armenian urban planning officials with information, resources, and training in urban planning. This program is part of the United States continuing commitment to improving and strengthening urban planning and development in Armenia at the national, regional and city level. It focuses on strengthening, updating and modernizing urban planning and development in Armenia by introducing Armenian urban planners and policy makers to international best practices, trends and developments in urban planning in the USA.
In particular, the study tour will assist the Armenian urban planners to develop and design a modern set of zoning laws, regulations and procedures which encourage the utilization and development of urban space in economic, environmentally friendly and community sensitive ways. Also the Armenian urban planners will be aware of how zoning laws, issuance of construction permits and other building regulations can be used to ensure that construction in Armenia takes into account Armenia’s seismic risks. Additionally, the study tour will give the participants a valuable opportunity to make professional contacts that will result in lasting linkages and to exchange ideas with United States counterparts.
The goal of the training program is to assist five senior level national and local urban planning officials to develop a modern legislative, regulatory and procedural framework to support economically efficient, environmentally friendly and community sensitive urban growth, expansion and development. The participants will use the experience and observations from this study tour in furthering the development, adaptation, and implementation of modern urban planning policies, legislation and regulations in Armenia.