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The EU actively supports government transparency and accountability in Armenia. As part of these efforts, Oxfam and the Economic Development and Research Center (EDRC) are currently implementing a project to increase civil society and media’s understanding of government budgeting and spending in social sectors. The objective is to increase civil society participation in discussions on government policies and annual government funding priorities. On 28-29 July 2016, Armenian government officials and civil society representatives discussed the budget allocations for service delivery to the elderly and people with disabilities at home and at day care centres in the Armenian regions.
At-home care and social services, including household, medical, socio-psychological, legal and other services, are being provided to 3,300 senior citizens and citizens with disabilities through two public budget programmes.
A budgetary evaluation has been undertaken as part of the EU-funded “Increasing civil society participation in national policy dialogue in Armenia” project. This service provision evaluation was recently presented and published as a report.
CSOs advocate and campaign for pro-poor reforms
Margarita Hakobyan, the Head of Oxfam Armenia, stated that 40 civil society organisations (CSOs) had been involved in the implementation of the project, and had actively participated in discussions and the research process: ‘The project is aimed at empowering CSOs to advocate and campaign for pro-poor reforms and engage in effective, transparent and substantial policy dialogue with the Government of Armenia, based on the monitoring of public budgets and national policies for agriculture, health and social protection. Within the framework of the CSPNPD [ed. civil society participation in the national policy dialogue] project, EDRC is making simplifications to state budgets for agriculture, healthcare and social protection. EDRC is carrying out activities aimed at increasing budget literacy and building the analytical capacity of CSOs, as well as monitoring and evaluation of implemented policies and selected budget programmes’.
Sona Harutyunyan, the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, spoke about the research and the special methodology developed: ‘Very thorough analysis was undertaken during the evaluation. We have graphics that reflect the true picture of the situation, and geographical findings on the elderly and their age. Most importantly, we have clear recommendations. If these are taken into account, they could significantly improve the quality of beneficiary selection, raise awareness about support, and lead to better targeted services for specific criteria and groups’.
The results of the evaluation stress that public policy reforms for at-home social care services are urgent. Efforts to extend social (namely – household) services should continue, but approaches for the provision of medical assistance need to be adjusted. Programme funding is insufficient to provide high-quality and comprehensive services to beneficiaries. Therefore, the best current option is to reduce the number of beneficiaries as a result of funding constraints. Provision of full-scale services to a smaller number of the most vulnerable elderly citizens will have large positive social impact. Other recommendations focus on increasing the efficiency of at-home social services.