Responding to economic and social challenges faced by Samegrelo region
22 May 2021
The UN team visits Samegrelo to outline the current state of the region, its vision for the future and a game plan to invest in its growth and prosperity.
Strong regional and local economies are essential for Georgia’s success and sustainability. That's why, one of the main goals of the new UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for 2021-2025 is to strengthen regional and local development and to update efforts on support for local economic development initiatives together with the national, regional and local authorities, civil society, the private sector and communities.
On 19-21 May 2021, UN Resident Coordinator in Georgia Sabine Machl visited the Samegrelo region. She traveled with UNFPA Head Lela Bakradze, UNHCR Representative a.i. Dejan Obradovic and UN Women Programme Analyst Ana Pashalishvili to meet with local entrepreneurs and farmers, civil society activists and local authorities. The purpose of the visit was to outline the current state of the region, its vision for the future and a game plan to invest in its growth and prosperity.
During the trip, the UN Resident Coordinator and representatives of the UN agencies met with local government representatives, including the State Representative in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti Region, Malkhaz Toria, and the acting Mayor of Zugdidi, Konstantine kakava. The sides discussed the prospects of cooperation between the UN and the municipalities and the role of municipalities in the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for 2021-2025.
The UN Resident Coordinator and representatives of the UN agencies met with the representatives of IDP and conflict affected women. The participants discussed the relevance of the localization of the 2018-2020 National Action Plan of Georgia for Implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security and participation of IDP and conflict affected women in the decision-making, peace and security processes. The women shared with the UN Resident Coordinator their concerns and challenges as well as their ideas on how to address these. UN Women, with the support of the UK Government, is actively working with the IDP and conflict affected women to strengthen their participation in the decision-making processes at the community and local levels. The meeting was held in Anaklia, at the family hotel of Maia Pipia, an entrepreneur supported by UN Women. Before that, the UN team also visited the office of the community fund, "NEFA". NEFA was founded by the local women activists, who were voluntarily engaged in the UN Women community mobilization component since 2010. Now they are successfully leading a number of interesting projects supported by the various donor organizations. UN Women is working on social mobilization and women’s economic empowerment in Samegrelo region with financial support of the Government of Norway.
The UN Resident Coordinator and representatives of the UN agencies, met with the local women entrepreneurs and farmers in Zugdidi. Participants have provided information about the current economic situation in the region, the impact of the pandemic on small and medium-size businesses, challenges and needs.
The UN team also met several beneficiaries of UN Women, which supports economic growth in rural areas by helping small and medium-sized businesses grow into profitable enterprises. They developed their business with the support UN Women project "Joint Action for Women's Economic Empowerment in Georgia" funded by the Norwegian Government. The UN guests and women entrepreneurs were hosted by Tika Didishvili, also one of the beneficiaries of this project, at the Green House Hotel.
During the trip, the UN team had an opportunity to visit Alex Lukava, a returnee from Greece. He launched his aluminum doors and windows business in November 2019. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) facilitated his return and allocated a reintegration grant to help him re-establish himself in his community. Starting over is not easy but Alex managed to turn his enterprise into profitable business and employs other people.
At the meeting with prominent rights based local NGOs in Zugdidi, the UN representatives learned about the important work they do on the ground to promote human rights, including the rights of Persons with Disabilities and IDPs. The participants were also given an opportunity to share their needs and challenges.
One of the highlights of the UN team’s trip was a visit to the Crisis Center for the victims of domestic violence and the survivors of violence, a small, family-equipped facility, in the village of Tsaishi, Samegrelo. The Crisis Center was opened in 2019 by the non-governmental organization "Sakhli" and the local municipality within the framework of the UN Joint Program on Gender Equality, supported by the Swedish Government. The Crisis Center offers psychological, social and economic assistance, as well as provides rehabilitation, medical, legal and referral services to the victims of domestic violence and the survivors of the violence. Sabine Machl met with the beneficiaries and staff of the Crisis Center and learned about their living conditions, needs, and challenges. Sabine Machl also discussed the plans and opportunities related to the sustainability of the center with the head of the Center Rusudan Pkhakadze.
During the visit to the Shota Meskhia Zugdidi State University, Sabine Machl and representatives of the UN agencies discussed the ongoing cooperation between the University and the UN agencies (UNDP, UNICEF, UN Women) with the Rector Teona Khupenia. The meeting ended with signing of the Letter of Intent between Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Shota Meskhia State Teaching University to launch a four-year project “Fostering economic empowerment of women farmers by supporting homemade dairy production” in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region, in partnership with UN Women and the financial support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
The UN Resident Coordinator Sabine Machl and UN team capped their visit yesterday, opening the documentary photo exhibition “Girls from the Future” by Dina Oganova and the Equality Corner in the secondary school in the village of Koki together with famous Georgian novelist Nino Haratischwili, who spoke about her award-winning family saga The Eighth Life: (for Brilka) and the importance of empowerment of women and girls. In the evening, she met public in the Dadiani Palace. The events were hosted by UNFPA.