By Nigar Abbasova
Azerbaijan and Germany signed agreements on financing and special arrangements under the “Program on support to protected areas of Azerbaijan: Zagatala – Balakan regions”.
The agreements were signed by Azerbaijani Finance Minister Samir Sharifov, Ecology and Natural Resources Minister Huseyngulu Bagirov and KfW Development Bank’s Director for Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia Eva Vitt.
Deputy Prime Minister Abid Sharifov, addressing the meeting highlighted the importance of the cooperation with Germany and hailed projects, implemented in Azerbaijan by the German government and KfW Bank.
Main objectives of the project are preparatory works on the creation of the first Zagatala-Balakan biosphere reserve in the country, strengthening of infrastructure of Zagatala reserve, as well as implementation of measures on environmental protection.
The agreement on financial cooperation signed in November 2013 between Azerbaijan and Germany provided for the issuance of a grant worth some €4 million ($ 4.47 million). Implementation of the project, worth €4.5 million ($ 5.03 million) is expected to be launched in 2016 and completed by 2019.
The first biosphere reserve is planned to be created on the basis of two existing reserves. Zagatala-Balakan biosphere reserve will cover Zagatala (134,800 hectares) and Balakan (99,400 hectares) regions, located in the south-western part of the country at the border with Georgia and Dagestan.
Half of the financing, provided by the bank is meant for the administration of the future reserve, while another portion for the population of the area. Irreducible Revolving Fund under the administration of the reserve will be created in this regard. The Fund will provide for the issuance of micro credits (interest-free or at formal interest) for financing of minimization of humans impact on animate nature.
Moreover, participants also discussed works on construction of water facilities and sewerage systems in Ganja (Azerbaijan's second largest city) and Sheki as well as financing of the project. Implementation of the project will improve water supply and sewage services for approximately 500,000 residents in both cities.
Nigar Abbasova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @nigyar_abbasova
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