Azatuhi Hovhannisyan’s regular commute is 300-metres long. Everyday the 52-year-old geography teacher takes two buckets from her house, walks to the loose pipe down the road, fills them, and walks back. She has done this many times a day, for the last 25 years.
Azatuhi’s is one of the ten families without any access to water in Tigranashen, a village of 150 on the borderline with Azerbaijan’s enclave of Nakhchivan. The households in the upper part of the settlement have been unable to access running water for a quarter of a century - the village was mainly populated by Azerbaijanis who left at the end of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 1994. Armenians then moved in and since then access to water has become a daily struggle - villagers have filed request after request, but to no avail. It is mainly women and girls as little as school pupils who are engaged in the chore of fetching the water which, luckily, does not freeze in the winter.
“[Because] Men also have problems, they [are in the fields] harvesting the hay for the cattle, or have migrated abroad to work,” says Azatuhi, whose house is a statement to a dream with a washing machine and a shower, which cannot function.
According to the State Committee of Water Economy 580 villages across Armenia struggle with water issues, ranging from limited, to no, access to low quality. In Tigranashen the only spring provides unfiltered, unsafe water - intestinal infections among children and people with vulnerable health are not rare.