Hub Artsakh Press

Hub Artsakh’s findings from Rapid Needs Assessment

Hub Artsakh’s findings from Rapid Needs Assessment

Hub Artsakh Press

« Originally published by MIASEEN Inc. (@miaseen_inc) on the 18/09/2023»

Data now shows 95% of residents in Nagorno-Karabakh have partially insufficient or insufficient food supply, according to the Rapid Needs Assessment report conducted by Hub Artsakh.

We spoke this morning with Hub Artsakh CEO Shoushan Keshishian about the data found in the survey and the importance of hard statistics for the international community.

Explore more from the report at miaseeninc.com.

Capture d’écran 2023-11-15 à 13.44.59

Rapid Needs Assessment Report - Hub Artsakh

« Originally published by EVN Report on the 15/08/2023 »

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New study sheds light on humanitarian crisis in Karabakh

New study sheds light on humanitarian crisis in Karabakh

Hub Artsakh Press

« Originally published by Civil Net, written by Angela Hassassian on the 17/09/2021»

The region of Artsakh, also known as Nagorno Karabakh, is facing an alarming humanitarian crisis as a result of an eight-month-long blockade imposed by Azerbaijan. The closure of the vital Lachin corridor, the only land route connecting Nagorno Karabakh to Armenia and to the rest of the world, has led to severe shortages of food, medicine, and essential goods. 

120,000 people in Nagorno Karabakh are left isolated and in a state of increasing desperation. A recent Rapid Needs Assessment survey conducted by Hub Artsakh provides hard data to substantiate the anecdotal evidence of the dire consequences faced by the region’s population. 

Hub Artsakh is a non-profit organization with a mission to promote social impact projects and enterprises which propel the post-war recovery and positive development of the region.

FINDINGS

The survey’s findings echo a distressing reality in the region. Only 5% of respondents reported sufficient food availability for their households in the past week. Sufficient food, in this case, signifies access to food that meets basic dietary needs. A staggering 95% of households experienced either partially sufficient or insufficient food, indicating widespread scarcity.

The closure of the Lachin corridor has led to limited market access, creating a vacuum that threatens the region’s food security. The shortage of fuel means any available resources, such as fruits and vegetables from gardens, don’t reach where they need to. The blockade’s impact reverberates throughout households, forcing 68% of them to reduce their meal frequency, and 51% to rely on less preferred and cheaper food options.

 

With a substantial 62% of respondents purchasing food with cash, it becomes evident that a considerable portion of households still possess a degree of purchasing power. These numbers collectively underscore that the root cause of the insufficient food consumption crisis lies not in the inability to purchase, but rather in the alarming scarcity of available food; a direct consequence of the illegal blockade. 

“When the shops are supplied with food, people stand in long queues, and not everyone manages to buy food, as it finishes quickly,” one respondent commented.

The study results reiterate warnings made by the founding prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo in a report published earlier last week, where Ocampo classified the situation in the region as genocide.

“You will find no crematoria in Artsakh, nor machetes, but genocide by starvation is no less devastating for being silent,” Ocampo said.

The survey revealed the grim reality of household food stocks as well. A significant majority—59%—reported not having any staple food stock, while 36% did have such stocks, often forecasted to last a mere three weeks.

The blockade’s effects are not limited to food or access to medical services and essential goods, with many leaving comments regarding the effects on the state of their mental health. 

One respondent wrote, “My nerves are too fragile to be standing in long queues, without even being sure that I will eventually manage to buy food. It is better to eat less than to stand in these long queues.”

Despite the looming threat of famine, 67% of households express concern over the security situation as their main concern, taking priority and far outweighing concerns over the shortage of food or medicine.

In fact, the population remains steadfastly united in their stance against integration into Azerbaijan with an overwhelming 98.8% expressing staunch opposition. 93.5% of respondents are willing to accept humanitarian assistance if it comes through the Lachin Corridor, sent from Armenia or from international actors that have an “amicable attitude to Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh.”

RECOMMENDATIONS

In light of these dire findings, the study puts forward several urgent recommendations. 

First and foremost, international aid organizations must mobilize to deliver essential humanitarian aid, including food and medicine, extending swift support to alleviate the suffering of the affected population. This recommendation also calls for regular monitoring of the situation to ensure that effective and immediate action is taken to meet the needs of the people. 

Secondly, the organization urges collaborative efforts among regional and international partners, in order to establish security measures, ensuring the safety of both residents and aid workers. This also suggests the facilitation of meaningful dialogue and negotiations to address the underlying causes of the blockade, seeking peaceful and diplomatic solutions to this crisis.

Finally, international organizations and allies are asked to exert diplomatic pressure and advocate for the immediate opening of the Lachin corridor. This step is vital for enabling international organizations to deliver essential humanitarian aid to the region.

 

METHODOLOGY

The study was conducted between July 30 and August 3, 2023, and adopted a robust methodology to capture an accurate representation of the prevailing conditions. The study employed face-to-face interviews with 418 households in four key locations in Karabakh: Stepanakert, Martuni, Martakert, and Askeran. The interviews were conducted through a semi-structured questionnaire, ensuring a national representative sampling with a 95% confidence interval and factors in a 5% margin of error. The survey’s demographics portrayed a snapshot of the population, with varying education levels, household sizes, and age distributions.

The findings of this Rapid Needs Assessment serve to convey the urgency of the situation, which demands collective efforts to break the blockade and alleviate the suffering of the population.

The data has been published ahead of the recent convening of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, with the hope that its findings will assist representatives of the UN Security Council to make informed decisions that could potentially avert an even greater catastrophe. 

The sentiment is that the fate of Nagorno Karabakh’s population hangs in the balance, pointing to a level of urgency that cannot be ignored.

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Rapid Needs Assessment in Artsakh: Letting the Numbers Tell the Story

Rapid Needs Assessment in Artsakh: Letting the Numbers Tell the Story

Hub Artsakh Press

« Originally published by EVN Report on the 15/08/2023»

By now we have all heard about the ongoing blockade of Artsakh which is nearing its eighth month. We have heard about the starving, sun-stroked children and the increasing rates of early-term miscarriages. We have heard about the endless queues for a loaf of bread that has become one of the sole lifelines of a starving population. We have seen the photos of dark, forcibly pedestrianized streets, and unceremoniously emptied-out markets. 

This blockade has been imposed on Artsakh far longer than any of us could have anticipated. When the farcical news of Azerbaijani environmental protestors blocking the Lachin Corridor reached us, we were distressed, but naively optimistic, thinking the situation would be resolved in a matter of few days and life would go back to normal. A few days turned into a few weeks. Then, into a few months. And now, we have forgotten what normal used to be. Our optimism and hope is rapidly depleting, along with the food and water in Artsakh. Every single interaction we have is now wrapped in a latticework of tension, concern and fatigue. 

All this, however, is bearable. Standing in the never-ending queues, and walking dozens of kilometers each day to secure some water can be bearable. It is possible to work around the electricity cuts, internet outages, and the pangs of hunger. Yet, the doubts that are cast on the severity of this blockade are enough to tip one over the edge. The hardest situation to manage is when the predicament of Artsakh is confronted with questions aiming to poke holes in testaments, rather than an outpouring of solidarity and support. Sometimes, it seems that the stories, photos, videos and outcries from Artsakh are not proof enough of the horrific nature of this ongoing blockade. 

That is why at Hub Artsakh, we decided to revert to reliable, evidence-based, quantifiable numbers, and conduct a Rapid Needs Assessment to tell the story of the unfolding starvation and deprivation in Artsakh. This assessment was conducted by Hub Artsakh to collect quantitative data at the household level in order to understand the real needs and concerns of the population in Artsakh. From July 30 to August 4, 2023, a rapid needs assessment among 418 households in Artsakh was conducted to collect representative data with the application of a robust methodology. 

Face-to-face interviews were held in four locations, including Stepanakert, Martuni, Martakert and Askeran. The objective was to capture, quantify, and amplify the needs and concerns of the population of Artsakh. The results of this survey are alarming, signaling a much larger crisis that will undoubtedly unfold if the blockade drags any longer without any intervention. 

Key Findings

Food Consumption 

The analysis of food consumption in the interviewed households showed that on average, households manage to have meals three times a day. However, this does not reflect the sufficiency of the meals, nor the food coping mechanisms employed to manage food scarcity and ensure they can meet their basic food needs.

Deeper analysis revealed that children under the age of 2 have meals more frequently compared to older children and adults. About 10% reported that children between the ages of 6-17 had 1-2 meals on average of the last three days before the interview day. It is important to mention that 11% of households reported that adult members had only one meal and 35% had two meals on average of the last three days before the interview. Based on this, it can be assumed that adults eat less to be able to provide food to children.

Additionally, more than half of respondents (62%) bought food with cash. This means that overall, the households’ purchasing power is not very low, which only confirms that the main reason for insufficient food consumption is the availability of food and not its accessibility.

Food Sufficiency and Obstacles to Having Sufficient Food

Having sufficient food means that all members of households have access to an adequate and nutritious food supply that meets their dietary needs and supports their overall well-being. This includes having enough food to maintain a balanced diet for all members of the households, without experiencing hunger or malnutrition.

The respondents were asked if there was sufficient food for their household during the last seven days. Only 5% reported that the food was fully sufficient, 65% said the food was partially sufficient, and 30% had insufficient food. This is an alarming finding confirming the lack of food in Artsakh and showing that 95% of households either have partially sufficient or insufficient food.

As the main obstacle for having insufficient food during the past seven days, 89% of respondents mentioned that “there is no food in the market”; 43% cited the reason to be the limitation or lack of access to markets because of disruption of transportation means, caused by the gas shortage. Another 25% indicated high prices and not enough money to buy food.

Extremely long queues to buy food also affected the sufficiency of food in households, because people, in particular those with small children, elderly and/or disabled people, were unable to stand and wait in the queues for indefinite amounts of time. This was further compounded by the fact that those in queues are unsure whether the food will be sufficient for everyone waiting to purchase. 

Food Coping Mechanisms

Households usually employ food coping mechanisms to manage food scarcity and ensure they can meet their basic food needs. The analysis of the adoption of coping mechanisms per day displayed an alarming finding: 68% of households had to reduce the number of meals eaten and 51% had to rely on less preferred and less expensive food all seven days a week. Moreover, during all seven days in the past week, 38% of the adult population ate less so that small children could eat.

In light of the persisting situation and the continued adoption of food coping strategies, there is a growing concern for potential hunger and health issues with the affected population. As people resort to various coping mechanisms to access food, there could be significant consequences on the overall well-being of people.

Main Concerns

One of the objectives of the survey was to understand the main concerns of the population in Artsakh considering the current situation. The respondents were asked to name their concerns and rank them based on their priority. The most serious concern of households was the security situation in Artsakh. The shortage of food was ranked the second among the first priority concerns, and the first in the second and third priority concerns, confirming the lack of food availability. Another concern that can be seen in all three rankings was the shortage of medicine, indicating the challenges in assessing essential healthcare and medical supplies. The travel restrictions were frequently mentioned as one of serious concerns.

Humanitarian Assistance

Finally, the survey was used to collect data on the openness of the population for humanitarian support. Respondents were asked if it would make a difference where the humanitarian assistance is being delivered from. As such, 93.5% of the respondents answered that it would indeed make a difference for them where the assistance is coming from. Here, the predominant response was that humanitarian assistance would be acceptable only if it came through the Lachin Corridor, sent from Armenia or the international community. The key concern raised was that the humanitarian assistance provided from any other route would not be trustworthy.

Only 0.7% of respondents mentioned that it would not make a difference where the support is coming from. Here, the reasons mentioned were the catastrophic humanitarian crisis unfolding in Artsakh where people are already starving, and ensuring the availability of food for children at all costs; 5.7% were unable to answer this question. 

The respondents were also asked to list their first three priority actions once the communication with Armenia is open. 56.65% of the respondents chose “stocking food” as their first priority. 14.35% of the respondents chose storage of medicine and seeking after medical services as their first priority. 13.39% of the respondents gave varying responses to this question, which stretched from reconnecting with the family to visiting the grave of a friend in Armenia. 

Another interesting finding came from the question where the respondents were asked to make predictions about the next couple of months till the end of the year, and 71.27% of the population fears that the blockade will continue one way or the other. Only 5.2% responded that people of Artsakh might want to leave Artsakh due to security concerns.

Finally, respondents were asked to rate on a scale of 1 (definitely in favor) to 10 (definitely against) how they feel about the coexistence of Armenians and Azerbaijanis: 98.8% of respondents gave the rating of 10, indicating that they are definitely against.

Conclusion 

The data collected by the Rapids Needs Assessment survey tells a harrowing story of increasing food insecurity and deteriorating emotional and physical wellbeing. Yet, it also reveals the resolve and steadfastness that the people of Artsakh have to continue living, creating, and flourishing in our ancestral lands. 

When asked what they would do once the communication with Armenia is opened, one respondent, a middle aged woman in a family of four from Askeran, mentioned “I will order flowers for my flower shop.” This answer, perhaps, was the most poignant of all. While Artsakh continues to face numerous obstacles, a shortage of determination is not one of them. 

The Rapids Needs Assessment report clearly outlines what to expect in the coming months. As a result of the closure of the Lachin Corridor, there is a critical lack of food and other essential goods. Although people can afford to buy food, they do not have sufficient food, because of the lack of food in markets, limited transportation means, long queues, and more. Thus, the insufficiency of food at households makes the latter heavily adopt coping mechanisms to be able to sustain their essential food needs.

The combined impact of these factors will result in a vicious cycle of food insecurity, malnutrition, and poverty. This, in turn, will lead to negative health outcomes, especially for vulnerable groups like children, pregnant women and elderly. In light of these circumstances, we recommend the following measures to address the short-term and long-term needs of the people in Artsakh. 

Recommendation 1: Humanitarian aid and assistance

  • Mobilize international aid organizations to provide immediate humanitarian aid, including food, medicine and other essential goods, in particular to vulnerable people.
  • Regularly monitor the situation and call for immediate actions to stabilize the market.
  • Strongly consider adopting a conflict sensitive approach for humanitarian assistance.

Recommendation 2: Security and stability

  • Collaborate with regional and international partners to establish security measures and ensure the safety of residents of NK and aid workers.
  • Facilitate dialogue and negotiations to address the underlying causes of the blockade and find peaceful solutions.

Recommendation 3: Diplomatic efforts

  • Seek support from international organizations and allies to exert pressure to open the corridor for international organizations to deliver humanitarian aid.

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Could This Co-Working Space Redefine Artsakh?

Could This Co-Working Space Redefine Artsakh?

Hub Artsakh Press

« Originally by MIASEEN, written by Anthony Dikran Abaci on the 26/04/2023»

The first co-working space to exist in Artsakh is nestled in a simple room in Stepanakert.

To a foreigner strutting past and glancing through a pair of glass doors, it may appear to be an ominous group of young people sitting at their laptops. 

But what lies beyond the glass could be the percolating seed that will redefine the future of Artsakh in this post-war era. 

Hub Artsakh houses the usual pillars of a collaborative work environment: open floor plan, multi-person desks, and decent Wi-Fi. Chromatic Armenian art shines on the walls. 

Chess pieces are just stationary chiseled ivory without a devised strategy to slide them to a checkmate. While the idle king must be protected, the dynamic queen slices through the board to converge the other pieces to victory. The balletic queen deftly moving across this board is powerhouse pioneer Shoushan Keshishian, Hub Artsakh’s appointed executive director. 

At 25 years old and just two years into her repatriation from Beirut, Shoushan has illuminated optimism from across the globe with her entrepreneurial product production. With a Master’s from the University of York in Post-War Recovery Studies, she executed the astoundingly vibrant Sunrise Stepanakert Festival alongside co-founder and fellow diaspora Lilit Hakobyan; and spent a year in Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the government-led iGorts Program. 

Now, alongside Gayane Sargsyan, another Sunrise Festival event organizer, and Milena Avetisyan, Shoushan is raising the peer level of innovation with Hub Artsakh. 

Founded in 2021 by Vahe Keushgueryan, Hub Artsakh bypasses the corporate stalemate of a gray WeWork, and is cementing down foundational blocks that could lead to a cultural and entrepreneurial emergence from Artsakh’s production Z generation. 

While an exciting aurora of belief can always be cultivated from congregating in a physical space, Shoushan and her team foster this emotion into concrete action.

In addition to memberships to the co-working space, the Hub Artsakh team has facilitated lectures and seminars on everything from productivity to product development to English conversation classes. Photos published showcasing such events record a pattern of new and returning faces. 

In this impending era of Artsakh, the narrative is flipping to self-sufficiency.

To flourish the seeds growing in Hub Artsakh, numerous grants and mentorship programs have been orchestrated to sprout these ideas for the rest of the world to witness. These programs have included a fellowship sponsored by the Hovnanian Family Foundation, who are the prominent donors of Birthright Armenia and Repat Armenia, and an Entrepreneurship Incubation Program with Impact Hub Yerevan. 

Currently in movement, with backing by Fondation Philippossian & Pilossian, is a one-on-one coaching program with professionals and entrepreneurs from across the globe called From Idea to Impact. All accepted initiatives focus on mitigating crises that are affecting Artsakh in the current and future. 

From afar, the first co-working space in Artsakh presents itself as more of a protected haven for intentional success than a collection of white desks and swivel chairs. 

Throughout the past year, Hub Artsakh has not remained untouched by the Lachin Corridor Blockade and Azerbaijan’s government shutting off electricity and gas lines to cities in Artsakh. Shoushan and her team have pushed to keep the doors open as much as possible. During one of the blackouts, they notified their community they had obtained a generator so they could keep working. With no gas to heat them in the bitter cold, the group of innovators do their best to grind through. 

Entrepreneurs around the world face endless challenges, but none like this group, which only cultivates more belief in their potential.  

It is impossible to predict exactly what will come out of this space. The fluidity of life in Artsakh may alter at any moment.

Yet one could believe key elements are lining up. With a reliable leader in its realm, collaborative support from outside entities, and young minds focusing their attention towards problem solving for a sustainable future, whatever grows out of Hub Artsakh is sure to be a checkmate.

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Hub Artsakh

Hub Artsakh

Hub Artsakh Press

« Originally published by Diaspora High Commissioner’s Office on the 20/07/2022»

Various events and meetings are often held in Artsakh and these are usually organized at the Hub Artsakh, a co-working center. Its executive director is Shoushan Keshishian, an alumna of our iGorts program for Diaspora professionals.
One of the biggest events held in Stepanakert during the spring was the Artsakh Civil Society Expo. Want to learn more about this co-working center? Watch the video and read about the interesting activities of Hub Artsakh  on their page.

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“Hub Artsakh”. A club for motivated young people operates in Stepanakert

"Hub Artsakh”. A club for motivated young people operates in Stepanakert

Hub Artsakh Press

« Originally published by Artsakhpress on the 07/11/2021 »

Hub Artsakh has been operating in the Vahe Fatal Hall of Stepanakert’s Paul Eluard Francophone Center for over a month. The founder is Vahe Keushgueryan, and the executive director is Shushan Keshishyan. ARTSAKHPRESS: Shushan was born and raised in Beirut. She has been in Artsakh for about six months and is sure that as long as there are young people here who strive to take innovative and progressive steps, Artsakh will prosper: 

“It has been a priority for me to invest my potential in the development of Artsakh,” says Sh. Keshishyan. “Hub Artsakh” is a newly established non-governmental organization, a place of joint work in Stepanakert. “The idea arose as a result of assessing the needs of Artsakh, when we realized that such an organization with its resources can make a great contribution to the development of Artsakh,” Sh. Keshishyan said. 

According to our interlocutor, the goal of “Hub Artsakh” is to promote social innovation in Artsakh and to support social programs, which will contribute to the reconstruction of Artsakh after the war. “Our advantage is our unique environment, which is a stimulus for cooperation and support, which will help our community members to turn their ideas into innovative, profitable and effective programs. ‘We try to reveal the wonderful work done in Artsakh by active, talented people in various fields, sharing it with our compatriots in Armenia and the Diaspora. 

During this time we have already managed to create a community of motivated and energetic young people in “Hub Artsakh”. We organized a networking evening, where the youth of Artsakh were given an opportunity to establish contacts with the Diaspora High Commissioner, the participants of the “Young Ambassador of the Diaspora” program. We also organize training programs, various other events to support the social entrepreneurs and initiatives of Artsakh,” Sh. Keshishyan. 

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“Hub Artsakh”. A club for motivated young people operates in Stepanakert

"Hub Artsakh”. A club for motivated young people operates in Stepanakert

Hub Artsakh Press

« Originally published by Aravot.am on the 07/11/2021 »

Hub Artsakh has been operating in the Vahe Fatal Hall of Stepanakert’s Paul Eluard Francophone Center for over a month. The founder is Vahe Keushgueryan, and the executive director is Shushan Keshishyan. ARTSAKHPRESS: Shushan was born and raised in Beirut. She has been in Artsakh for about six months and is sure that as long as there are young people here who strive to take innovative and progressive steps, Artsakh will prosper: 

“It has been a priority for me to invest my potential in the development of Artsakh,” says Sh. Keshishyan. “Hub Artsakh” is a newly established non-governmental organization, a place of joint work in Stepanakert. “The idea arose as a result of assessing the needs of Artsakh, when we realized that such an organization with its resources can make a great contribution to the development of Artsakh,” Sh. Keshishyan said.

According to our interlocutor, the goal of “Hub Artsakh” is to promote social innovation in Artsakh and to support social programs, which will contribute to the reconstruction of Artsakh after the war. “Our advantage is our unique environment, which is a stimulus for cooperation and support, which will help our community members to turn their ideas into innovative, profitable and effective programs. ‘We try to reveal the wonderful work done in Artsakh by active, talented people in various fields, sharing it with our compatriots in Armenia and the Diaspora. 

During this time we have already managed to create a community of motivated and energetic young people in “Hub Artsakh”. We organized a networking evening, where the youth of Artsakh were given an opportunity to establish contacts with the Diaspora High Commissioner, the participants of the “Young Ambassador of the Diaspora” program. We also organize training programs, various other events to support the social entrepreneurs and initiatives of Artsakh,” Sh. Keshishyan. 

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Your brand from Artsakh to the international market. A seminar held in Stepanakert

Your brand from Artsakh to the international market. A seminar held in Stepanaker

Hub Artsakh Press

« Originally published by Aravot.am on the 06/11/2021 »

On November 5, a seminar entitled “Your Brand from Artsakh to the International Market” was held in Vahe Fatal Hall’s “Hub Artsakh” club of Stepanakert’s Paul Eluard Francophone Center. ARTSAKHPRESS: The seminar was conducted by David Gabrielyan, Founder-Director of Nakhshun Tea and BIB Digital Marketing Agency. As “Artsakhpress” repors, during the meeting the speaker introduced the participants the process of creating Nakhshun Tea company. The most important factors for making the Artsakh brand successful in the international market were discussed. In an interview with “Artsakhpress”, D. Gabrielyan mentioned that his goal is to motivate all people who have a business idea, so that they can generate that idea correctly and bring it to the sales stage.

“The idea of the seminar really existed a long time ago. There is a great need for such seminars in Artsakh, because there are organizations and brands with great potential, which are not fully developed in order to reach the international arena. And when I received an invitation to conduct a seminar, I gladly accepted it. Today’s meeting, I think, will be productive for people who have their own business, brand or are in the idea stage, trying to present their products in foreign markets, because I have told a real example of how a tea company in Artsakh reached international market – up to Austria, America, Germany – different platforms. “The Artsakh brand, reaching the international market, solves several problems, first of all contributing to the Artsakh’s recognition and the development of our economy,” said D. Gabrielyan said. 

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