Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian thanked the U.S. government on Tuesday for financing a large-scale reconstruction of Armenia’s rural irrigation networks which is due to be completed in September.
The $180 million project was launched in 2006 after Washington included Armenia in its Millennium Challenge Account program designed to reward countries implementing political and economic reforms.
According to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government agency managing the worldwide program, the project will benefit over 420,000 rural residents in around 350 communities across Armenia. The assistance has also been used for training 45,000 farmers and providing some of them with agricultural loans.
The MCC chief executive, Daniel Yohannes, began on Tuesday a three-day visit to the country to reviewing the results of the five-year project. He met with Sarkisian after inspecting some of the newly refurbished canals and other irrigation facilities.
A statement by the Armenian government’s press office said Sarkisian “highly appreciated” the infrastructure upgrades and their impact on the agricultural sector. It said he thanked the MCC for the assistance.
The MCC originally also allocated $67 million for rebuilding and repairing hundreds of kilometers of Armenian rural roads. It scrapped the project following Armenia’s disputed 2008 presidential election and the ensuing government crackdown on the opposition.
The U.S. ambassador to Armenia, Marie Yovanovitch, confirmed last month that Yerevan is not eligible for more MCC funding because it does not meet U.S. minimum requirements on good governance. She said the Armenian government should, among other things, hold more democratic elections in order to again qualify for the scheme.
The Armenian government statement said Sarkisian and Yohannes discussed “prospects for the continuation” of the MCC’s assistance to the country. It did not elaborate.