seems that to bring water to the villagers
is not only the job for Robert Harutyunyan,
but also the mission.
In a valley, Ararat, named for a site of history's
most famous flood, the 1,249 residents of Baghramyan
village live without water supply and without
most of the conveniences of civilized life.
Mother of four Melsida Harutyunyan works in the
office of the head of Baghramyan village as a
financier. She is one of the first residents of
the village. After moving from Miasnikyan village
in 1989 with her husband she decided to take up
permanent residence in Baghramyan.
"Those years it was not a village. An urban-type
village had been constructed here. Prospects of
a future town made us come to Baghramyan. We were
provided with an apartment. Large-scale construction
works were taking place, my husband had a job.
But now everything has changed," says Melsida.
Dilapidating and rusting construction cranes
over half-built buildings are the symbols of that
change - and none of it for the better.
Deputy head of the village Vazgen Khachatryan
says that everything had got all mixed up after
the collapse of the USSR which had plans to turn
Baghramyan into an industrial city. In 1983 construction
began on Baghramyan and by 1988 it was inhabited.
It became Baghramyan region containing 15 villages
of Talin and Armavir regions.
carts with the containers full of water
are driven by kids along village roads like
As a result of new administrative division Baghramyan
became a part of Armavir region and got status
of a village. Today mainly refugees from Baku
and Sumgait live here.
Single pensioner, 70 year old Arshaluis Zakharyan
is one of them. Besides 4000 drams (about $7)
pension, Arshaluis earns money selling sunflower
seeds. "Nobody thinks about us, we live as
luck wishes. And if something happens then we,
neighbors, help each other."
People live in this village, located 66 kilometers
away from Yerevan, only by their own forces. Some
breed cattle; others farm crops against the odds
of fickle nature.
"As a result of the lack of irrigation
water and draughts villagers' cultivation areas
dry," says landowner, private businessman
37 year old Stiopa Ginessyan.
One of two small kiosk-like shops belongs to
him and he is the only hope of many villagers.
From the regional center (Armavir) he brings goods
that villagers ask. There is no market in the
village and no groceries.
"Even if there were markets and groceries
villagers wouldn't be able to buy anything from
there. They take goods from me on credit. They
pay me their debts when they get their pensions
and allowances," he explains.
It is regarded as a great luxury to go to Armavir
market for Baghramyan villagers and it is not
affordable for everyone. To reach the regional
center one must cover 12 kilometers and spend
600 drams (about $1) for going there and back.
The houses in Baghramyan are two- and five-storied
and made of tuff. There are 16 apartments in each
five-storied building, however, today only four
to six families live there. As Khachatryan assures
many people have left this place and will never
pensioner, a refugee from Azerbaijan Arshaluis
Zakharyan got used to life "as luck wishes".
The only educational institution of the village
is a school with 164 pupils. This year only nine
children have entered the school. As a result
of the lack of water there is even no lavatory
in the school. And the one, which is located outside
the school, was wrecked two years ago by strong
wind. Kindergarten is held only in June, July
There is no hospital or polyclinic in Baghramyan;
villagers employ services of one small ambulance
station and only one nurse takes care of patients.
However, besides numerous difficulties and problems,
the most serious problem for the villagers of
Baghramyan is the lack of drinking water. People
drink fresh water here only every third day.
Melsida says: "We used so much water of
bad quality that we have always been expecting
in fear that some disease or virus would appear
one day. Initially we haven't had water. We buy
clean drinking water (transported from Talin -
about 20 kilometers away) for 50 drams (about
8 cents) for one bucket."
According to her, one container full of water,
which makes four buckets (40 liters), costs 200
drams (about 35 cents). If you use water for washing
dishes, having bath and other things then one
container won't be enough even for one day and
it means spending 6000-7000 drams (about$10-$12)
per month for water, which would be unaffordable.
And deputy head of the village Vazgen Khachatryan
indifferently talks about water trade. He also
mentions with pride that since September 2002
villagers have been provided with artesian water
(but not for drinking). Before, residents had
to pay 150 drams (about 25 cents) per container
for water even for washing, etc.
A program sponsored by the government of Germany
provides the water for bathing, laundry, cleaning
Arshaluis Zakharyan purchases two to three buckets
of drinking water (brought from Talin). She uses
it only for drinking and says that for her this
situation became something usual. It's hard to
get used to that but what can she do?
Forty-six-year old Robert Harutyunyan is from
Baghramyan. He is so tired that he doesn't want
even to speak. His sea blue eyes hint on the fact
that Robert is the village water merchant.
"Twice a week I bring water from Talin,
five tons. What I have brought today has already
finished, though I bring water sufficient enough
for three days," he says.
The water seller says that even though it is
his livelihood, he wishes his village could get
its own drinking water and he could get another
If all his customers can afford to pay, Robert
earns 3000-4000 drams (about $5-$7) per day. However,
he often lends water so that people won't remain
"I have list of debts and will always have
that list until we breathe and until we breathe
it means all of us will live from hand to mouth
with debts," he says.
Meanwhile deputy head of the village remembers
that in 1993-94 there was a program of installing
water supply system Artashavan-Talin-Baghramyan
for drinking water. However, that program hasn't
"All responsible authorities are informed
about the situation in Baghramyan. Even the government
is informed. This village was constructed without
a water pipeline," says Khachatryan.
Along the roadway to Baghramyan, carts carrying
metal containers meant for milk but holding water
are the main traffic.
A middle-age countrywoman strains every muscle
for moving the cart forward. Sweat drops decorate
her face and her hair drops in disorder down her
shoulders. Her discontent spills over with the
sloshing load of water.
"We live in a desert," she says. "Soil
has dried from heat and sultriness and we too
dry without water."