Shinuhayr is to become the center of an enlarged municipality, bringing together eight villages around the famous “Tatev” monastery in Syunik region of South Armenia. The newly opened Citizen Office is co-financed by the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus (SCO), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in the frame of a joint local governance program. The program supports the physical establishment of Citizen Offices including the refurbishment of appropriate office space in the municipal building, and provides required IT equipment and installation of the software – MMIS, which connects all the communities.
„My first dream is to bring water to my village.“ - said one of the workers of the one-stop-shop in Shinuhayr, Armenia. "If we have water, we can have green and blooming gardens, more jobs and better life. For the time being we hope for rain and snow“.
The Citizen Office in Shinuhayr and the MMIS system shall simplify administrative procedures and enable citizens to have better access to relevant information and services as well as intensify interaction between citizens and public administration. The one-stop-shop is going to serve all eight communities of the enlarged municipality, which in addition will get their own MMIS workstations.
„Our program is like a puzzle, it consists of many different parts such as the introduction of new budgeting and planning techniques, infrastructure development, etc, which should in the end give one whole picture - and improve lives of ordinary people in Armenia.“ - said Lukas Lüscher, Co-Head of the SCO Program Office.
With the support of German International Cooperation (GIZ), 10 Citizen Offices have already been established in 6 Marzes (Cantons) of Armenia and MMIS was installed in 130 municipalities. With additional funding by SCO and USAID another 10 such offices will be opened and 100 more municipalities will be equipped with MMIS.
MMIS is a unified data management and information system especially developed for local self-government bodies. As a web-based system MMIS contains not only various management tools but also offers different online participation mechanisms.
In 2015, Armenia has received an award at the Open Government Awards in Mexico for its MMIS system.
Citizen Offices and the roll-out of the MMIS system are only one part of the comprehensive local governance program co-funded by SCO, USAID, and BMZ and implemented by a consortium of development partners and the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Emergency Situations. Other components include the introduction of modern municipal planning and budgeting techniques, investments into selected public infrastructure projects, or yet the empowerment of women in local democracy. The program supports the piloting of community enlargement in Armenia, which is to increase the efficiency of the local self-government system of the country and to open new opportunities for regional development.