Up to 40 representatives of local municipalities, businesses, civil society and community organisations from different regions of Georgia visited Lagodekhi on 20 and 21 December 2016 to share experience of the Local Actions Groups (LAGs) that work to engage local residents in rural development.
The study visit took place in the framework of the European Union’s Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development. It was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia, in cooperation with the Civil Development Agency (CiDA) and CARE International.
The study tour participants met with representatives of the Lagodekhi Local Action Group (LAG) and the Head of Lagodekhi Municipality, and received information about the ongoing initiatives in the field of rural economy and social issues. They also discussed the European models of rural development and their relevance to Georgia.
“Georgia is adopting its first Rural Development Strategy this year, which will point out to the role of local residents, businesses and civil society in rural development. We attach particular importance to sharing successful European practices in this field,” said Marika Gelashvili, Deputy Head of Regional Coordination Department of the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia, at the meeting with the study tour participants.
The Lagodekhi Local Action Group (LAG) was established in February 2016 with assistance from the European Union and ENPARD implementing partner organisation CARE International. Since then it has been taking active part in some major aspects of municipal life, such as agriculture development, economic and environmental issues, municipal budgeting and employment. The Lagodekhi LAG lists up to 100 members, including for representatives of local governance, private sector and civil society.
“Lagodekhi, together with Borjomi and Kazbegi, is one of the three municipalities in Georgia to pilot the European practice of Local Action Groups (LAGs) as a driving force of rural development. Local Action Groups are open to any citizen who takes interest and wishes to contribute to the success of their municipality. This model will be soon extended to five new municipalities – Dedoplistskaro, Tetritskaro, Akhalkalaki, Khulo and Keda,” said Nunu Mosiashvili, Project Manager of the European Union Delegation to Georgia.
Local Actions Groups (LAGs) is a common practice in the European countries and an important feature of the EU approach to rural development – LEADER (Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l’Économie Rurale), which links rural economy with national development.
The European Union (EU) closely works with the Georgian Government, local authorities, national and international partners to introduce the LEADER and Local Actions Groups (LAGs) in Georgia and promote civic engagement in rural development.