Laying Strong Foundations for Lasting Democratic Change in Armenia
In July 2019, USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) awarded MSI, A Tetra Tech Company, the Armenia Support Initiative (ASI). The program’s objective was to support the Government of Armenia’s (GoAM’s) efforts to implement a democratic reform agenda.
After Armenia’s 2018 Velvet Revolution, we worked to lay the foundations for lasting democratic change, focusing on anti-corruption, transparency, and citizen engagement. The program’s initial objectives were to support the Government of Armenia’s (GoAM’s) efforts to implement its reform agenda and to build public confidence through visible and tangible achievements.
As part of its planned reforms, the GoAM sought to set the foundations for an “economic revolution,” to tackle unemployment and emigration, supported by improved e-governance tools. The project specifically supported the government’s digitalization reforms, reviewing existing e-governance tools and supporting the streamlining of citizen-government engagement.
The project also supported the Armenian government through training and coaching, media analysis, website audits and improvements, and communications equipment procurements. The project also launched a nationwide community service campaign that brought citizens, government, and civil society together to address priority needs of local communities. The campaign, which included over 20 activities, kicked off in December 2019 with the launch of a renovated kindergarten.
In 2020, the twin crises of COVID-19 and conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh caused significant stress to the young GoAM administration, challenging reform efforts and leading to high turnover within the government. Our team quickly pivoted to address the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining its momentum for institutional reforms, public administration and corruption prevention.
We responded to critical GoAM needs, providing communications and teleworking equipment and creating public health videos and materials. In June 2020, at the height of international travel restrictions, the project worked with the GoAM to bring an international medical team to Armenia to support the GoAM’s response. Later, ahead of snap parliamentary elections following the outbreak of conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, we supported Armenian Public Television (PTV) with live debates. This support raised public awareness about the debates and helped bolster PTV’s reach, allowing them to broadcast multiple simultaneous events. The snap elections, held in June 2021, while hotly contested by the opposition, were widely viewed by international observers as free and fair.
In its final year, the project was able to return to its localized, community-driven approach, with a particular focus on Syunik marz, the Armenian border region directly affected by the conflict with Azerbaijan. We worked closely with the GoAM’s intergovernmental working group (IWG) to build local trust in the government, catalyze local action, and address critical needs in the conflict-affected region. The project outfitted two youth creative hubs that give young people the opportunity to learn, create, and build a future in their villages. It also provided agricultural equipment and solar heating to villages in Syunik, helping to fill community economics and service delivery gaps in a critical time of need.
Over the life of the program, the project implemented 125 activities across the country through a flexible and rapid-implementation approach. MSI has won five task orders under the SWIFT IV and SWIFT 5 mechanisms, including ASI, the Lebanon Community Resilience Initiative (LCRI), and three successive iterations of the Colombia Transforma program.