Georgia: Good Governance
Lack of interest in participation in political and social affairs, influenced by historical experience from the Communist era, is a typical feature of Georgian society, in particular in small towns and rural areas. There are only few active informal civic initiatives, which should be the drivers of community life and civil society.
This is caused by a lack of good examples of how personal involvement can change the situation, by a lack of interest or willingness to take responsibility, but also by insufficient knowledge of ways to finance mutual activities. Furthermore, the absence of independent media that would disseminate information and moderate public debate also contributes to the overall situation.
Where signs of civic activity appear, they are predominantly the informal initiatives of mostly young people. Therefore, since 2008, People in Need has focused on promoting active representatives of the emerging Georgian generation.
Advancing Regions for Sustainable Development
Civil Society Organizations Supporting Free Trade with European Union
Still, a very small number of Georgian companies (according to some surveys only 6%) trade with the EU under the DCFTA. Region-based SME and particularly rural entrepreneurs with limited access to expertize, finance and difficulties entering new markets have to eventually comply with DCFTA regulations. In this regard, regional CSOs can serve as effective vectors of democratic and socio economic development in the rural regions.
Thus, the project strives to the following outcomes:
1/ Increased capacity of Local Action Groups (LAGs) and other CSOs to act as resource channels on relevant aspects of the DCFTA for micro- and small enterprises and agri-producers in their target areas.
2/ Increased capacity of LAGs and other CSOs to facilitate engagement of rural population in their areas in policy dialogue. The project’s target regions include Imereti, Mtskheta-Mtianeti, Kakheti, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Adjara and Kvemo-Kartli.
Strengthening rural development in Kazbegi district
The LEADER approach has been an important component of EU Rural Development Policy for over 20 years. It is piloted for the first time ever in Georgia. PIN supports participatory mechanisms in local decision making processes and the district's sustainable growth.
It is the basic principle of the LEADER approach that the action targets all types of local public, private and civic actors and individual inhabitants to create local partnerships and direct local resources towards more effective development. The active and committed representatives of Local Government, entrepreneurs, farmers, CSOs, citizens and other important local players, such as the Kazbegi National Park Administration, participate in local strategy planning as members of Local Action Group (LAG).
Together with a substantial input from other community members they formulate the Rural Development Strategy. Once the Strategy is developed, they solicit calls for proposals from residents and distribute small grants for projects in areas prioritised by the Strategy. The whole process is transparent and open to any Kazbegi resident.
The Action includes strong capacity building component for all target groups to enable a new methodology to be efficiently implemented, and to ensure sustainability of project outcomes. Based on experience from EU countries, which have long history of LEADER implementation, this approach ensures that active individuals are able to mobilise their social networks, the level of community participation increases overall and it helps economic development renewal.
Development of civil society
Over a period of seven years, People in Need has trained more than 960 young people and representatives of non-governmental organizations in problem identification, project management, preparation of project applications and collaboration with local assemblies.
Within the framework of the project, the organization also actively cooperates with local assemblies, providing them with training in how to involve civil society in community decision-making processes. Since 2012, People in Need has assisted selected municipalities in setting up regional action plans to support active youths and civil society.
In 2012-2013, People in Need also supported initiatives in remote regions of Georgia (and also Azerbaijan and Armenia) in organizing small scale documentary film festivals in their communities, screening documentaries on crucial issues (conflict transformation, human rights). All screenings were followed up by a debate that enabled the local communities to open dialogue on these crucial issues, some of which having been taboo before. Since 2014, four of these festivals in Georgia continue screening films without People in Need’s support. Moreover, extensive library of documentary films in Georgian is available for everybody who wishes to organize a single screening and used mostly by university teachers or activists.
In frame of the current phase of support to civil society development in Georgia, People in Need strives to strengthen local government representatives' sense of responsibility towards the public through support of civil society representatives and wide public in their efforts to increase transparency of decision making-processes on local level.
In January 2016 People in Need launched the project that aims to strengthen the link between public and civic actors and harmonize their activities in the area of social inclusion by establishing a joint advisory body, the Advisory Council on Social Inclusion (AC), and piloting Social Integration Programme (SIP) approach with four CSOs in four municipalities. Joint action of the Advisory Council produces strategic directions for local social inclusion activities. The targeted CSOs are supported by intensive capacity building, mentoring and networking to become stronger partners to public institutions and participate in setting priorities and increasing the efficiency of social inclusion programmes at local and national levels.