On October 24, Niels Scott, Head of UNDP in Georgia, and Tengiz Shargelishvili, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia held a two-day conference in Tbilisi. The assembly suggested more than 30 civil society initiatives aiding the regional and local developments.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the Civil Development Agency- a national non-governmental organisation have initiated a program of grant distribution. Additionally, the Austrian Development Cooperation, Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus and Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia support the development.
The organisation have distributed several grants across Georgia between the years of 2015 and 2016. These grants were designed to resolve local social and economic issues through local coordination. Moreover, this was an attempt to encourage the formation of communicative networks between local authorities and local citizens.
These projects tackled a variety of issues that ranged from environmental, energy and municipal issues. Additionally, it addressed the economic and educational issues widespread across the regions, such as Guria, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Mtskheta-Mtianeti and Imereti.
According to Tengiz Shergelashvili, “The small grants programme helps resolve specific local problems.” “It contributes to regional and local development by increasing public activism and engaging civil society” Shergelashvili added.
Although, this programme is a fraction of a greater initiative executed by the UNDP. The larger goal, funded by the governments of Switzerland and Austria, is to promote the delegation of authority. This decentralisation of authority will support Georgia to integrate into the European model of development.
“Citizen engagement with local governance remains as low as 20 percent,” said Niels Scott. Therefore, the small grants program will involve citizens in the decision-making process. Furthermore, it will aid local authorities to communicate with the citizens and implement changes accordingly.
On the 25 October, the conference will continue to evaluate results and explore future opportunities for local and regional developments.