When you ask residents of Zovq, a village in Armenia’s Kotayq Region, to name a few of the positive changes since the country gained independence 20 years ago, you just might get a blank stare in response.
That’s to say Zovq residents will have to think long and hard.
It’s a poor village that’s growing poorer. There isn’t much pastureland so residents can only raise so much livestock. The village doesn’t seem able to hold on to the pasture land it has. In 1993, 600 hectares were lopped off and given to the neighboring village of Geghashen.
In 2009, an additional 1,039 hectares were transferred to Kamaris. Even though the lands in question had been granted as private property to Zovq residents, land taxes went to the Kamaris coffers.
Zovq Mayor Torgom Hovhannisyan says that the 2005 decision of the Armenian government to transfer certain 2nd portion lands to other communities not only impacted Zovq but others as well like Palahovit and Hatsavan.
Mayor Hovhannisyan pointed to the foundation of a house and said that on the other side of a line running from here to the border of the cemetery is Kamaris land. He would like to see it returned.
Zovq has nothing really in the works for the 2009-2012 development plan.
The community’s annual revenues total 21 million AMD, mainly from land and property taxes. Almost half of the budget, 9 million, is in the form of state subsidies.
The village municipality has a staff of nine. After paying their salaries, there’s little money left.
The only project the community has been able to successfully tackle in recent years is the installation of 600 meters of water pipe.
Foundations for a new cultural center were dug three years ago with state funds. Nothing yet has arisen on those foundations.
Municipal accountant Nork Gevorgyan says they’ve been told it’s on account of the financial crisis.
The doors to the village kindergarten have been closed for the past 15 years. The building has been declared unsafe.
Those who can afford it send their children to kindergartens in Yerevan, some 20 kilometres away.
One of Armenia’s diary producers, Chanakh, operates a plant in Zovq, but it’s not much of a job provider for the locals. Only 3 Zovq residents work there.
Many residents told me that they prefer to sell the milk they produce in Yerevan markets rather than to the Chanakh plant because of the higher prices they get in the city.
Economic hard times have forced many to move.
The village has a population of 870 and 108 are of school age. Only five are in the 1st grade.
Some classes have even been combined due to a lack of pupils.