Preventing pollution of Voghji river with heavy metals through restoration of riparian ecosystem in Kapan
Preventing pollution of Voghji river with heavy metals through restoration of riparian ecosystem in Kapan
The intensive growth of mining industry in Syunik that started in 1960s resulted in degradation of ecosystems, accumulation of mining waste and pollution of water, land and air. In Kapan, the mining waste or so called “empty ore” was accumulated in central parts of the town covering a total area of 3 hectares in two districts. This ore was not used due to low composition of required minerals (Cu, Zn, Au) compared to the ore from other mines and was dumped being considered as waste. The ore however have had enough heavy and toxic metals to pollute the water and produce dust creating serious concerns for the authorities. In 1980s the Soviet Government attempted to clean the area from the ore, however it became almost impossible to completely remove the waste because trucks could not access most part of the complicated landscape. The site continued polluting the town and the Voghji river passing nearby the site and ultimately Araks river, thus creating environmental risks for a number of downstream urban and rural communities in Armenia and across the neighboring countries. As no vegetation grew on the polluted land, the contamination continues until now.
In 2011-2013 the OSCE Programme Implementation Presence (PIP) in Syunik and “Khustup Rescue Team” NGO initiated small experimental tree planting activity on the damaged landscape to select the types of trees and define planting methods that could help to recover vegetation on the land and prevent pollution of the water and air. The experiment showed that hackberries, smoketree, juniper, and the tree-of-heaven successfully grow with some addition of manure and fertile soil at the roots of the trees with little watering.
The goal of the project is to prevent the release of heavy metals and chemicals from a mining dump of Kapan to the environment through planting of the steep slopes of the dumpsite. The project envisages a large scale tree planting that will contribute to the recovery of the ecosystem through preventing pollution of water and air and thus mitigating environmental and health risks in the region.
OSCE PIP team assisted “Khustup Rescue Team” NGO in the project development and formulation, as well as leveraged cash co-financing (US$5,109) from the OSCE budget.

Project Snapshot

“Rescue Detachment Khustup" NGO
Area Of Work:
International Waters
Grant Amount:
US$ 16,080.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 6,796.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 10,095.00
Project Number:
Satisfactorily Completed
Project Characteristics and Results
Gender Focus
At least 50% of the project beneficiaries namely, community members affected by the pollution directly or indirectly released from the mining dumpsite, volunteers and students participating in the project activities are female.
Capacity - Building Component
The capacity building will include workshops for the staff of the Ministry of the Emergency Situations, municipality of Kapan and active members of the civil society who have expressed willingness to participate in the project activities.
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Number of CBOs / NGOs participated / involved in SGP project 4
Number of innovations or new technologies developed / applied 1
Number of households who have benefited* from SGP project 10000


OSCE, Kapan Municipality

Grantee Contact

Mr. Arthur Harutyunyan
Phone: +374 93 605645


9 A.Manukyan St.
Kapan , Syunik , 3301

SGP Country office contact

Mr. Hovhannes Ghazaryan
+374 60 530000+116
(+374 10) 543811
Ms. Svetlana Harutyunyan
+374 60 530000+117


14 Adamyan St.
Yerevan, 0010

Country Website