Living without water in an Armenian village


By Arpi Bekaryan

The residents of Tlik have simple dreams - access to water, for a start. The 100 inhabitants of this small village on the border with Turkey, in western Armenia, have not seen a drop of fresh water since 1993 and depend on a pump and bottled water - which they pay for. 

It was not always the case: Tlik was connected to the water system during Soviet times, but one day the water stopped flowing and never returned. The infrastructure is long gone and calls to authorities at any level have fallen on deaf ears. The chronic lack of water has driven away many of the residents, all ethnic Yezidis, and today Tlik is a shadow of its former self. 

Rich in freshwater resources, Armenia ranks high in per capita water availability - on average, 95 percent of the population has access to safely managed drinking water and sanitation services. A deep divide, however, runs between urban and rural population, and settlements like Tlik remain off the authorities’ radar. Villagers no longer know who to appeal to.

Drinking water is delivered once every ten days and costs them between 1,700 and 1,800 drams ($3.50-4), but it is often delayed, sometimes resulting in 20 days between deliveries. The only pump available in Tlik supplies water from the Akhurian river, about one hour away from Tlik, but as the river is dirty, so is the water pumped into the village. From there residents fill scores of buckets and carry them to their houses, as they have done day in-day out for the last 26 years.