Azerbaijan Rural Investment Project
|Founded||January 18, 2005|
|Founder||Republic of Azerbaijan; World Bank funding|
|Subhan Asgarov Director,
Gulbaniz Ganbarova Deputy Director of Community Development and Capacity Enhancement Manager
The Azerbaijan Rural Investment Project (AzRIP) was established by the government of Azerbaijan’s State Agency on Agricultural Credits under the Azerbaijan Ministry of Agriculture. It is designed to invest in the rural development of five economic regions of Azerbaijan, focusing on community-based infrastructure development. (Note: in the Azerbaijani language AzRIP is known as Azərbaycan Kənd İnvestisiya Layihəsi, or AzKİL.)
The objective of the project is to improve the living standards of communities that participate by increasing their access to infrastructure services, by the building and/or repair of roads, health clinics, schools, footbridges, electrical resources, potable water resources, and irrigation and drainage systems. The AzRIP project became effective on January 18, 2005 and at this time is planned to be completed March 31, 2012. Finances are provided through a loan from the World Bank to the Azerbaijan government, and ultimately reimbursed by Azeri taxpayers.
AzRIP targets rural communities with more than 1,000 and less than 10,000 people in areas that meet the criteria for high poverty incidence. These communities cover all rayons of Azerbaijan, including Nagorno-Karabakh.
The economic regions targeted by AzRIP and the Azerbaijan rayons in those regions include:
- Lower Shirvan: Hajigabul, Kurdamir, Zardab, Ujar, Goychay, Aghdash, Yevlakh
- Mughan Salyan: Jalilabad, Neftchala, Salyan, Saatly, Imishli, Bilasuvar, Sabirabad
- Nakhchivan: Sadarak, Sharur, Shahbuz, Babek, Julfa, Ordubad, Kangarli
- North: Ismayilli, Gabala, Oghuz, Sheki, Gakh, Balaken, Zagatala, Quba, Gusar, Shamakhi, Agsu, Khachmaz, Gobustan
- Northwest: Gazakh, Agstafa, Gadabay, Dashkasan, Tovuz, Tartar, Goranboy, Samukh, Barda, Shamkir, Goy Gol
AzRIP has three components:
- Infrastructure. This includes the identification, design, construction, rehabilitation, operation and maintenance of rural infrastructure based on community’s needs. Those needs are identified and prioritized by the communities with the help of AzRIP personnel.
- Capacity Enhancement. The capacities of communities and support service providers are enhanced through training, conferences, seminars, consultations, and monitoring and evaluation.
- Project Management. The administrative and operational project implementation and management costs are financed. This includes the training and/or hiring of qualified personnel to undertake the procurement, disbursement, and management of project finances, as well as the reporting, monitoring and evaluation of community projects.
How AZRIP Works
AzRIP provides communities with the managerial, financial and technical resources needed to manage their community projects. To do this, AzRIP uses the Community Project Cycle to find eligible communities and to train community members in the selection, implementation and maintenance of their projects. This includes six steps:
- Information outreach and selection of communities
- Community mobilization
- Training of the communities in the preparation of community project proposals
- Training of the communities in project registration, appraisal, approval, and forming cooperation agreements
- Training of the communities in procurement and implementation
- Project completion, handover and evaluation.
Key highlights of the project are:
- Communities are selected on the basis of their infrastructure needs, community assessments and their ability to organize themselves and implement and maintain projects.
- AzRIP contributes up to 90% of the funds for projects; those funds are provided by the Azerbaijan government through loans from the World Bank. Communities must contribute at least 10% of the project funds, and at least 2% it must be in cash. The remaining 8% can be in their own labor or materials.
- Selected communities participate in Community Mobilization facilitated by AzRIP Project Assistance Teams (PAT). The region’s PAT visits the community and guides the community members in an open and transparent process of identifying their needs, prioritizing and selecting projects as well as electing a Community Project Committee.
- The PAT trains the Community Project Committees along with members of the Municipalities, local ExComs and other community leaders in leadership, management, planning, accounting, procurement, project implementation, monitoring and grant proposal writing.
- When the Community Mobilization and trainings are done, the communities design and plan their own projects and send project proposals to AzRIP for approval. They are helped by engineers they choose and with the assistance of the AzRIP engineers.
- The approval of a project is based on its proper design, its appropriateness, the transparency of the community’s approval and AzRIP’s site appraisal.
- For projects under $15,000, communities may procure materials and perform their own construction. For projects over $15,000 a contractor must be hired through an open competitive bidding process.
- The community establishes a Maintenance Committee with community funds to maintain the project throughout its life. Sustainability is the key to a project’s success. The community must make sure that either the municipality or Community Organizations ensure project operation, maintenance and sustainability.
AzRIP projects are based on two principal documents:
- The Project Appraisal Document (PAD), which describes the project’s development objective and strategic plan, plus the project’s description, sustainability and risks. The PAD is used by the community and AzRIP project staff throughout the project to monitor the performance of their official duties.
- The Operations Manual (OM), which contains all of the necessary guidelines, rules and criteria for Capacity Enhancement and Community Project implementation. The OM has five volumes:
- Volume I: Policy and Guidelines
- Volume II: Operations Procedures
- Volume III: Reference Manual
- Volume IV: Public Information
- Volume V: Financial Information
Volume III of the Operations Manual can be found in English and Azerbaijani on the AzRIP web site at http://www.azrip.org.
Other Azerbaijan Rural Development Nonprofits
Many international organizations support agriculture and rural community development in Azerbaijan. Some of those organizations are described here.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a United Nations agency, was established in 1977 to assist in the agricultural development of needy countries worldwide, including Azerbaijan.
Grassroots Human Security Grant Assistance Program (GHSGAP), sponsored by the Embassy of Japan in Baku, Azerbaijan, supports rural community development. A water supply system development project in the Shamakhi rayon was completed in two parts by the two organizations, the first by GHSGAP and the second by AzRIP.
- World Bank Projects Database, http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=64283627&piPK=64290415&theSitePK=40941&menuPK=228424&Projectid=P076234
- "Second Phase of Azerbaijani Rural Investment," The Azeri Times 13(16), http://www.theazeritimes.com/site/economy/2299
- "Rural Investment Project in Azerbaijan: Contract for Training on Monitoring and Evaluation"; International Development web site http://www.devex.com/projects/rural-investment-project-in-azerbaijan-contract-for-training-on-monitoring-and-evaluatio---2
- "Azərbaycan Kənd İnvestisiya Layihəsi," Rüblük Bülleten 4(11): Dekabr 2009.
- "Azerbaijan Rural Investment Project," Quarterly Newsletter 3(10): September 2009.
- "AzRIP Operations Manual," http://www.azrip.org/content.php?page=manual
- "Grassroots Human Security Grant Assistance Program," http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/gaiko/oda/shimin/oda_ngo/kaigai/human_ah/pdfs/e-1.pdf