Business and Economics
Editor’s Note: Oxfam’s Armine Gevorgyan blogs from inside Armenia, where many young men are migrating abroad in search of employment and new opportunities, leaving their wives and daughters behind. Almost a third of homes in Armenia are now entirely led by women.
Here in the rural village of Khor Virap in Southern Armenia, women sit around gossiping about the man who left for Russia, found a mistress and left his wife. Sveta, a mother of one, says, “I wonder what happened to that poor woman and her four children.” This is a fear shared by many women left behind but for Sveta and others like her there is little choice.
“If the men of the village don’t leave for migrant work, then they will simply be condemned to starve. In order to work on the land, they need investments and money.”
In Khor Virap, women’s reign is dominant in the village for almost nine months of the year while the men are in Russia. Work is hard to find and life is extremely tough. Sveta explains,
Editor’s note: Oxfam’s Annemarie Papatheofilou has just returned from Armenia where she met a group of feisty women who, with Oxfam’s support, are building a business from the ground up, and who won’t stop until their home-grown fruit jam is a household name.
The first thing I notice about Emma is her black-stained fingers. She is shaking my hand with an enthusiastic vice-like grip, and the colour is hard to miss.
I have travelled just over 200km from Yeravan, Armenia’s capital, to Ayrum, a tiny town near the Georgian border, and I’m here to visit the newly-formed Lchkadzor Co-op.
Emma is one of the first members of the co-op I meet and my curiosity gets the better of me, so I ask about her hands. She explains that day after day spent picking blackberries, plums, rosehips and – the worst culprit -walnuts, has left every fruit picker and farmer here with a permanent stain on their skin.
Editor’s note: This story was written by Aigerim Mamyrova
Although there was signed a memorandum of agreement between the company «Askin & Co GmbH and the Eye Microsurgery Hospital of Almazbek Ismankulov, but the cooperation has been existing for 15 years .
Hello again Western investor,
Perhaps my last letter was too harsh. Turkmenistan does need your money; all of our sectors are so poor — natural gas, textile, fishing, agriculture, water. Still, I have one request when you come here to invest: hire local Turkmen talent, and I don’t just mean as grunts. Don’t import your people for the best jobs; use ours.
But maybe I ask for the impossible, not from you, but from us. A foreign employer means only one thing for many of us: not “money”, not “future”, not “adventure” or “opportunity”, but risk, and if there is one thing we have become averse to, it is risk. We even have an expression, puly ýassygyň astynda saklamak, “keeping the money under the pillow”: it means don’t invest, don’t trust institutions.
Dear Western investor,
You might have a Turkish colleague who is trying to convince you to invest in Turkmenistan, but should you believe him?
The picture looks nice. Turkish firms ran 63 projects in 2011 worth ~3.27 billion USD, and in 2010, ~4.5 billion USD. Such numbers at the height of the Great Recession are really amazing. And your Turkish colleague is probably hungry for more: the total business volume of Turkish construction firms in Turkmenistan is over 30 billion USD since 1991, and there are, right now, 1,500 Turkish-run construction projects in Turkmenistan worth 32 billion USD.
But look closer.
These days, state television in Turkmenistan is ablaze with talk of the president’s economic and cultural “commandment” to his country to develop and promote national tourism. The government has recently drawn up new tourist maps of the country (click photograph above).
The center of the buzz, of course, is Avaza, a tourist zone on the Caspian Sea (about which I’ve written here. In the hope of developing a vibrant hotspot of tourism, all manner of plans for new hotels and facilities (such as a water amusement park and a convention center) in the resort area are now hurriedly underway.
Allow the facepalming to begin. EurasiaNet.org’s David Trilling
visited Avaza in 2010. In the port town of nearby Turkmenbashi, he found only intense poverty, and ENVSEC released a map in 2011 showing all of the pollution just south of the Avaza tourist zone in the period 2006-2008, including radioactive waste and abandoned and flooded oil wells. Sounds like a good time on the beach to me.
Underneath Turkmenistan is abundant natural wealth, with more being discovered all the time. So, our government applies useful rules for the Turkmen people. Natural gas, electricity, and even some amount of petrol — in 2011, we were the fourth cheapest in the world, at 12 pence per liter (click images to see more information) — are free for us, which is really something amazing. For example, at present, every person is entitled to 720 liters of free benzene per month. However, the process is that you must prepare the documents of your car and submit to the proper authority; afterward, you receive your benzine chip. The six months start from the moment you receive it.
Editor’s note: To mark world food day, Emil Baghirov, a blogger from Azerbaijan, travelled to the Tartar region in the center of the country to find out how Oxfam-supported strawberry farming is changing rural women’s lives. Here are his impressions.
This post has been provided courtesy of Oxfam.
Editor’s note: Last week, MTS returned to Turkmenistan two and a half years after its mysterious departure. But will this prove to be a Second (Tele)Coming? NewEurasia’s Annasoltan is skeptical.
In the first hours of August 30th, Turkmen who still possessed MTS SIM cards,
two one and a half years after the company was mysteriously and unceremoniously booted out of Turkmenistan, reported receiving a signal. The long-awaited return of MTS to Turkmenistan has been greeted with widespread joy — and jokes.
Our state provider, Altyn Asyr, could not deal with the demand, although they did make strenuous efforts to prepare by offering a new variegated tariff regime with names like “100″ and “Go”. Yet, I’ve heard jokes about Altyn Asyr circulating in Turkmenistan. For example:
Re: “100″, “You try 99 times and only once you succeed in calling.”
Re: “Go”, “Rather than calling somebody, you better ‘go’ visit them, instead.”
Still, MTS is apparently rewarding loyal customers. Between August 30 and September 30, they are offering to old clients who have kept their SIM cards a 20% bonus on their accounts, plus 30 free minutes of calling within the MTS network every day.
“People would prefer to have gold or silver or platinum, some tangible asset that can preserve their wealth. So, while we’re sitting out in this isolated part of Central Asia and it seems unconnected to much of the rest of the world, this is obviously very central issue to what’s going on economically and financially right now in Europe and North America.” — Dr. Robert Moran, hydrologist/geologist
This past September, Bankwatch and I made a documentary about the Kumtor mine. You can view the video via YouTube. Some weeks later I was invited to join a State Commission which was visiting the Kumtor goldmine to do an environmental monitoring and take water samples. While we were out there, though, I also took a long series of photographs, originally posted by Bankwatch on Flickr but which I’m now re-posting with permission here to help spread the word about what’s happening in Kyrgyzstan’s mountains.