Improving local governance through inclusive development approaches
The intended impact of the project is: Increased inclusion of women, youth and the most vulnerable in local decision-making processes and socio-economic development support.
The project's expected outcome is: Community representatives working within local governance structures (Local Action Groups) apply inclusive approaches to increase the engagement of women, youth and the most vulnerable in development planning and decision-making processes and provide new local development opportunities that will strengthen resilience within their locality.
Output 1: Women and youth capacitated to engage in governance, decision-making and inclusion processes
Output 2: Community-led local governance structures strengthened and better informed on inclusive rural development best practices
Output 3: Local development solutions designed and delivered supporting socio-economic inclusion, environmental protection and climate action.
The project intends to support rural communities in both Georgia proper and Abkhazia, with a specific focus on youth (aged 18-29), women and the most vulnerable within these communities. The primary structure to support these communities will be Local Action Groups (LAGs) in four target municipalities and districts of Georgia proper and Abkhazia.
The project targets 980 direct beneficiaries.
The following activities are foreseen to achieve the expected outputs.
1.1 Implement Women’s Economic Engagement and Leadership (WEEL) programme
1.2 Increase knowledge and participation of young people in Community Led Local Development (CLLD), leadership, gender, advocacy and cross-cultural dialogue
2.1 Increase learning on CLLD practices including within multi-ethnic/conflict affected contexts
2.2 Host learning events and final joint-LAG experience-sharing week with multi-sector stakeholders in Armenia
2.3 Establish and capacitate Zugdidi LAG
2.4 Develop and/or update Local Development Strategies
3.1 Support LAGs to manage sub-project application, assessment and selection process based on project opportunities within the three thematic Areas
3.2 Procure items for the selected sub-project proposals and support the LAGs to effectively monitor their implementation and results
Although Georgia continues to experience steady economic growth and poverty has declined from 2007 to 2018, there is marked disparity in socio-economic conditions in the urban and rural areas of the country. As highlighted in the Rural Development Strategy of Georgia (2017-2020), “average monthly income per capita, as well as mean monthly income per household in rural areas significantly differ from the same indicators in urban areas – particularly in Tbilisi”. Rural areas of Georgia continue to suffer from degraded infrastructure, limited access to quality services, lower levels of private investment and an over-reliance on the agricultural sector. Almost 50% of the population work in the agricultural sector, and so are highly vulnerable to economic downturns in the sector and the impact of shocks and disasters. One significant consequence of this disparity is outward migration from rural areas, with the 2014 General Census data showing that Georgia’s rural population has decreased by 23.7% since the previous census, compared to the urban population which has grown by 7.1%.
In the breakaway region of Abkhazia, the socio-economic situation for the rural population is particularly perilous as the rural economy has been devastated by conflict and the region’s ‘unresolved status’, with chronic poverty, low food security and high levels of unemployment. The situation has had a huge impact on the breakaway region’s economic development, particularly with regards to the agricultural and rural economy. An absence of trading opportunities, as well as relatively weak domestic demand (outside of the tourist season – which will now be impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic), places market constraints on the agricultural sector. The sector is also blighted by low productivity and an over-reliance on ‘traditional’ techniques and outdated technologies. Weaknesses in the economy have led to high unemployment levels, particularly in the South-Eastern districts.
The project will work to strengthen the resilience and wellbeing of rural communities by increasing their engagement in prioritization and decision-making and providing the financial resources to support targeted actions to assist women, youth and vulnerable communities. At the same time, it will look to overcome the isolation that many people face in Abkhazia and bring together LAG members from different locations – Georgia proper, Abkhazia, Moldova and from across Europe to learn from one another and create the pre-conditions for future cooperation and collaboration.