Together for Change: Regional Development in Georgia
Regional development aims to reduce regional disparities by supporting employment and economic activities in regions. It is not a simple concept in theory, and it is something that is even more difficult to put into practice.
In the Georgian context, decision making about development has traditionally happened top-down and prioritised cities, particularly the capital, over more rural, regional areas. For example, in developing tourism or infrastructure, the Government has been the main deciding body, choosing what is developed and where – but times are changing.
In Georgia today, municipalities have greater autonomy to develop the regions and the Government put into place a Regional Development Strategy in 2015, which allows municipalities to set the priorities for investment in their region under a Regional Development Fund. As People in Need, we believe that the best decisions for development are the most informed ones and involve input from different groups of society. That is why People in Need, together with our partners the Centre for Training and Consultancy and the Institute of Democracy are supporting regional development in Georgia by commissioning extensive research, and facilitating different regional and local groups to come together to make choices about the future of their region. This initiative is generously funded and supported by the European Union.
By empowering local and regional groups and equipping them with the skills needed to assess the needs of people in their region and develop strategic plans to address them, the voices of local communities can be heard. These local and regional groups include Local Action Groups (which are made up of community members, private sector representatives and local authorities), civil society organisations, regional universities, think tanks, and municipalities. As part of this initiative, we are supporting them to come together and listen to each other’s ideas in order to make plans for their region together.
This is Natia, a member of a Local Action Group in Kazbegi. Kazbegi lies in the northeast of Georgia, close to the Russian border, in a region called Mtskheta-Mtianeti. Not only is Natia participating in this process to jointly develop the region where she lives, she is also running a small local business at the same time. She is passionate about what she does and determined to improve conditions in her region. She is contributing individually and jointly to her wider community, and we think her voice should be heard. Hear what she has to say in her full interview!