In August 2020, the Caucasus Institute was contracted by UNDP Armenia to conduct a pilot study in the centers of two consolidated border communities in southern Armenia: Areni and Sisian. The goal of the study was to reveal ways to attack the key vulnerabilities and build the resilience and sustainability of the two communities in the post-COVID-19 reality.
A team of five researchers traveled to Areni village (August 11-12) and Sisian town (August13-14). In the communities, researchers conducted meetings, interviews, focus groups and visits to locations. Based on the combined results of fieldwork and desk research, the team compiled Mapping Reports for both communities.
The CI organized Foresight sessions in Yerevan – on August 28 on Sisian, and on September 1 on Areni - to design future scenarios with a stress on the set of skills and capacities derived from the community needs. The sessions were attended by experts from various fields, including agriculture, business, culture, education, tourism, IT, architecture, development, innovation etc.
To present and validate the results of Foresight sessions and tentative Action Plans, a group of CI researchers traveled to Sisian on September 21-23 and Areni on September 23-25. The team held presentations and meetings with stakeholders at several levels. At all meetings, the team received positive feedback. Local stakeholders expressed willingness to invest their efforts in the projects, and suggested additional areas and industries of engagement and development.