Georgia

Georgia: Humanitarian and development update Oct 2005

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published
HIGHLIGHTS
US State Department Affirms Support to South Ossetian Autonomy Within a Unified Georgia

As per the statement of State Department spokesman followed the presentation of the peace plan by Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli on 27 October, at the OSCE in Vienna, Austria, the United States urges rejection of the use of force and embrace of constructive dialogues as the only path to a just and lasting settlement of the conflict over Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia. The US supports Georgia's territorial integrity and stands ready to work with the Georgians and South Ossetians, and with all fellow OSCE Member states to support efforts to build confidence, foster economic development, and advance peace and prosperity in pursuit of a settlement that ensures the South Ossetian autonomy within a unified Georgia.

Report of the UN Secretary-General on the Situation in Abkhazia, Georgia

The October 2005 report of the UN Secretary-General on the situation in Abkhazia states that under the leadership of Special Representative of Secretary-General (SRSG), UNOMIG continues its efforts to promote stability in the conflict zone and to advance the dialogue between the Georgian and Abkhazian sides on political and security matters, the return of IDPs and refugees, economic cooperation, etc. SRSG continues her regular political and operational contacts with the bodies at the highest level, meetings with the Group of Friends in order to maintain their support for the Georgian-Abkhaz peace process. During the reported period, special attention was paid to achieving progress on the question of security guarantees. A planned meeting with the two sides on 22 July was postponed because the Abkhaz delegation cancelled its participation. Subsequently, SRSG convened the fourth meeting of the Georgian and Abkhaz sides on security guarantees, with the participation of the Group of Friends and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Tbilisi. This was the first meeting on this issue since May 2004. The Georgian and Abkhaz delegations were led, respectively, by Giorgi Khaindrava, the Minister for Conflict Resolution of Georgia, and Sergei Shamba, the de facto Abkhaz Minister of Foreign Affairs. During the discussion, the parties agreed on the need to reconfirm, in the light of the change of leadership on both sides over the last two years, their commitment to the non-resumption of hostilities and for the safe and dignified return of internally displaced persons and refugees, in the first instance to the Gali district in its old borders, as affirmed in the Yalta Declaration of the Georgian and Abkhaz sides They discussed a draft joint document on the non-resumption of hostilities, which had been prepared by the Georgian side, and enhanced by comments from the Abkhaz side. At the margins of the meeting, they also discussed and confirmed their readiness to accept the proposals prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the registration of returnees in the Gali district and its strategy paper for returns.

UNOMIG military observers continued to perform their mandated tasks by conducting daily ground patrols and liaison with local authorities and coordinating with the collective peacekeeping force of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), as well as law enforcement agencies from both sides.

Interested parties can view the full report at Reliefweb under Georgia Section.

Situation in South Ossetia

On 4 October, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Valery Loshchinin held talks with South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity in Moscow. The Russian side proposed setting up a joint investigation group involving OSCE observers to probe into the 20 September shelling of the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Loshchinin and Kokoity discussed the recent tensions in the South Ossetian conflict zone in the wake of the Tskhinvali shelling and settlement of the situation

Recently, official Tbilisi slammed the Joint Control Commission (JCC), which involves Georgia, South Ossetia, Russia and Russia's North Ossetian Republic and oversees a 1992 ceasefire agreement in South Ossetia, as "ineffective." The Georgian Parliament also plans to pass a draft resolution next week instructing the government to take measures to prepare a withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from the country if the peacekeeping forces' performance does not improve before February 2006 in South Ossetia.

During 24-25 October, a meeting of the JCC took place in Moscow, Russia. The JCC members have called on the Georgian and South Ossetian leadership to organize, in the near future, a meeting of Ministers of Defense in the Republics, as well as a meeting of Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli and South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity. Georgian side's position towards JCC outcomes was quite sceptical.

During October, especially after 20 September firing of Tskhinvali, security situation has not been very stable. Several cases of shooting and shelling have been detected such as explosion in the so-called 'Textile' district of the breakaway South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali on 16 October, causing no injuries.

BTC Georgian Section Opened

The Presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey participated in an opening ceremony for the oil pumping station in Georgia's southern district of Gardabani on 12 October to mark the launch of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline's Georgian section. The U.S. Department of State's Senior Advisor for Caspian Basin Energy Diplomacy Ambassador Steven Mann and British Petroleum chief executive John Browne also participated in the ceremony.

The official launch for the pumping of oil through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was marked in Baku on 25 May. A similar event is planned in Turkey in November.

A total of 10 million barrels of oil is needed to fill the 1,760 km long pipeline, 248-km of which is in Georgia. This pipeline is expected to bring Georgia an estimated USD 50 million per year for transit of Azeri oil to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, where it will be made available to western markets.

HUMANITARIAN AND DEVELOPMENT UPDATE

Flooding in Western Georgia

During 4-7 October 2005, torrential rains have caused flooding and landslides in number of districts of western Georgia. Heavy rainfalls and landslides especially affected Guria, Samegrelo, Imereti regions and the Ajara coastline. Chokhatauri district in Guria is reported to be the most affected. The disaster resulted in the death of 3 persons and destroyed number of living houses, other buildings, roads, bridges and electricity systems. Some mountainous villages in Guria were cut-off due to the landslides that blocked the roads.

The Emergency Situations and Civil Safety Service (ESCSS) under the Ministry of Internal Affairs immediately deployed a group of rescuers on the site of natural disaster in Chokhatauri, Guria. In addition, a team of doctor-epidemiologists were sent in order to observe and monitor the health situation after natural disaster, however, as per the statement of the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, there was no threat for breaking out epidemics. President Saakashvili who pledged assistance to the population visited affected areas in Guria. Fortunately, weather conditions stabilized during the weekend of 8-9 October resulting in the decrease of water level.

On Saturday, 8 October 20 tones of humanitarian aid (blankets, rubber boots, wheat flour, canned meat, macaroni, sugar, oil) were sent by the ESCSS to affected sites in Guria.

Regional Authorities have provided some humanitarian assistance (10 tons of wheat flour, sugar, rice, vegetable oil and other food products) to the affected population in Khobi and Zugdidi districts of Samegrelo. Approximately 200 households in the most affected villages of Chiladili and Anaklia received this assistance.

Military reservists were also mobilized to assist local authorities in evacuating people and cleaning. Head of the Regional Policy and Emergency Affairs Service, Prime-Ministers Office and the Chairman of Road Department also visited the affected areas in Guria. In addition to that, Georgian businessmen collected about 180,000 GEL. Georgian Red Cross Society has sent 94 food parcels and hygienic kits in Ozurgeti and Chokhatauri districts of Guria region. According to media information, the State Road Department has allocated GEL 600,000 for rehabilitation of the flood-damaged roads in western Georgia. Some State agencies as well as political parties have rendered humanitarian assistance to the flood victims.

During Governmental Session on Wednesday, 12 October, two decrees were adopted aiming at assisting the affected families and elaborating long-term preventive strategy. According to the Governmental decree, GEL5,000 will be provided to each household that lost their houses in result of flooding (4 families in Lanchkhuti district, 7 families in Chokhatauri district, 12 families in Ozurgeti district, Guria). In addition, a State Commission Chaired by Prime Minister was created in order to calculate damage and address the most urgent needs. Within the Commission, special Working Group has been established headed by the Mr. Kakha Bendukidze, State Minister for Reform Coordination and consisting of relevant line Ministers in order to create efficient institutional mechanism for flood prevention. The Group intends to cooperate with all relevant structures and to develop a proposal.

According to ACH rapid situation assessment in Samegrelo region, some villages in Martvili, Chkhorotsku and Zugdidi districts were affected. The biggest damage was found in village Anaklia, Zugdidi district where around 30-35 IDP households were under threat. Some agriculture lands were also washed away in Kurzu and Nagvazao villages of Chkhorotsku districts. World Food Programme (WFP) has also assessed food aid needs in Samegrelo, Guria and Adjara regions. The assessment mission identified that the affected population has lost approximately 35% of the maize harvest and above 90% of beans and vegetables. It was concluded that the disaster has affected the food consumption of the people, especially of the very poor whose diet was already imbalanced. The coming winter may worsen the food security situation, particularly in the mountainous communities in Lanchkhuti and Chokhatarui districts, Guria. In terms of recovery intervention, WFP recommends food-for-work type of activities such as gabion rehabilitation, river embankments, road rehabilitation as more relevant response, especially for those households who lost 70% of harvest, i.e. around 550 households.

For additional information about the WFP assessment, please contact WFP office at: 39A Chavchavadze Avenue, tel.: 25 36 67, 25 26 68.

OXFAM Georgia Programme Overview

Oxfam arrived in Georgia in 1993 to provide emergency assistance to a country struggling with its newfound independence and subsequent internal tensions. Initially OXFAM provided emergency water and sanitation and rehabilitation of shelter for the homeless and supported small income generating projects for local people, by providing them with materials to make their own clothes.

Currently OXFAM focuses more on meeting long-term development goals. Hoping to increase people's access to financial credit and to the market place as well as supporting their production capacity, OXFAM provides more than 1500 poor farmers and urban entrepreneurs with small loans so they can develop their businesses. The organisation is also helping 80 kiwi fruit producers to gain direct access to local markets without middlemen therefore increasing the income from their own produce.

OXFAM works with policy makers in the country to improve conditions for small businesses and strives for equal opportunities in the market place.

Through community-based primary health care programmes the organisation provides people with access to health services and necessary information on free services. In the Zugdidi district of Georgia, OXFAM helped establish 27 village health centres and designed a community-based health financing scheme enabling people to receive treatment and drugs.

OXFAM strives to make primary health care services accessible, helping vulnerable groups such as single mothers, children, and elderly people to receive free medical services that they are entitled to under the State/Municipal medical programmes. In order to do this, OXFAM established the Institute of Health Care Ombudsmen in a number of health care institutions and now plans to work with the government to legitimize and expand this initiative throughout the country.

As part of the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Process in Georgia (EDPRP), OXFAM is promoting the participation of civil society in monitoring the implementation of the health policy. OXFAM is advocating for intensive collaboration between the health sector and the EDPRP process.

OXFAM supports Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) participation in budget formation and expenditure monitoring, to improve the government's accountability of public expenditure. It is mobilising and strengthening a range of CSOs to engage in the EDPRP Paper budget monitoring. Budget monitoring work includes monitoring of the State budget as well as the local budgets of two regions of Georgia. OXFAM has been helping a partner organisation to provide practical support for women who have been subjected to violence.

OXFAM's programme, which runs from 2003-2006, seeks to change public opinion and institutional behavior, provide counseling and legal advice for abused women, and promote women's rights.

Oxfam's aims to include communities affected by the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline construction in more accountable and transparent management of the social investment, land compensation, and employment programmes. OXFAM supports partner organisations and various community groups to conduct social monitoring of the BTC pipeline construction and exploitation.

Under the budget-monitoring project the 30 representatives of 'local self-governance' in Zugdidi district have been trained in the relevant budgetary processes, the new Tax Code system, and project writing and fundraising, promoting equal participation of women in decision-making processes. Throughout the project the communities have not only learned about their local budgets, but have monitored their implementation and have taken part in drafting the 2005 budgets for their villages, together with the elected local self-governance representative. Quarterly bulletins have been published and monthly radio talks broadcast, dedicated to the budgetary processes. This has contributed significantly to successful lobbying for amendments to the budget of the city of Zugdidi. Unspent budget lines (for the Regional Museum of Tea and the Teachers' Vocational Institute, for example), which create opportunities for money laundering and corruption, have been transferred to education and other social expenditures. Two hundred people have been directly involved, and government services in the Zugdidi region cover the population of about 80,000.

For additional information, please contact OXFAM office in Tbilisi at: 47A Paliashvili Street, Apt. 1, tel.: 25 28 81, 25 23 80. E-mail: kgetiashvili@oxfam.org.uk

Establishing Social Work Education in Georgia

The Establishing Social Work Education in Georgia (ESWEG) project started in September 2005 and will run for three years. The new project in Georgia is set to modernise the country's social services and create strong relations between British academics and their east European counterparts. The team consists of the academics from England and Slovenia, Tbilisi State University Sociology Department faculty, and social work professionals in the Georgian Association of Social Workers (GASW). The project liaises closely with government and non-government organisations in Georgia.

Georgia currently has no social work programme and there are only seven qualified social workers, all of whom trained abroad. It will enable Georgia to train social workers at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. A programme of certification will also be established for those who are already working in this field.

The team will be developing the curriculum for the new social work programme, translating texts from key resources and running study visits for Georgian teachers and practitioners to England and Slovenia to enable them to meet other social work academics and practitioners and to see social work in action. Later in the programme there will be a study visit to Armenia or Ukraine where social work is already fairly well developed in a similar socio-economic system.

The scheme will also train practice teachers (student supervisors) based in social work agencies across Georgia, to supervise social work students and enable them to get access to social work practice and support during their training.

For additional information, please contact Mr. Iago Kachkachishvili (Head of the Sociology Department) - iagok@yahoo.com or Ms. Natia Partskhaladze (Georgian Association of Social Workers) - natia@nilc.org.ge

The World Bank Small Grants Programme

The World Bank Office in Georgia administers Small Grants Programme which compliments and facilitates the social development agenda of the World Bank through its focus on civic engagement. The aim of the Programme is to promote interaction of citizens, either individually or as organised groups, with the public sector to strengthen mechanisms for inclusion, accountability, and participation in order to enhance and influence development outcomes. Civic engagement promotes public consensus and local ownership, give voice to the concerns of primary and secondary stakeholders, particularly the poor and marginalized persons, strengthen and leverage impact of development programmes and improve public transparency and accountability.

Small Grants programme is able to fund only a very small percentage of the received requests. Civil society organisations based in a developing county and working on the issues of development are eligible to apply. In addition, activities may include, but are not limited to workshops and seminars to enhance civic engagement skills, appropriate communication campaigns to influence policymaking or public service delivery. The activity is supposed to be completed within one year of the date the grant is awarded, and priority shall be given to organisations that have not been supported by the Programme in previous year.

Small Grants Programme is not eligible to fund research programmes, formal academic training programmes, operational projects, provision of basic services, scholarships, fellowships, study programmes.

Most grants are in the range of US$ 3,000 to US$ 7,000 with a maximum of US$ 15,000. Applicant organisations are asked to describe how a grant from the World Bank might help then to raise matching funds from other donors.

The Small Grants Programme is administered out of participating World Bank Country Office. Request for Applications are announced and guidelines and forms are usually available from the participating Country Office annually, in about January. Applicant organisations should apply at least four to six months in advance of the date of the grant activity. Grants are usually awarded by a Small Grants Committee, convened in the World Bank Country Office. Applications are screened and reviewed to ensure that criteria are met. The review may take up to four months to complete.

Additional resources for interested organisations are available at www.worldbank.org/ge

HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE UPDATE

UNICEF Assists Flood-affected Populations

On 30 September, UNICEF has sent 2,700 Medical and Hygiene Kits and 66 School Kits to 17 flood-affected districts of Georgia. The Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs will distribute the supplies to regional public health departments and to the affected population.

This was UNICEF's post-emergency humanitarian support to the population living in flood-affected regions. As per UNICEF Representative, people there are still short of basic health and educational supplies. UNICEF plans to continue to monitor their situation through regular programmes in Georgia.

Severe flooding in April and May has had a serious impact on the lives of thousands of people throughout Georgia. The floods have damaged basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges and water supply systems in the affected regions. The regions of Racha-Lechkhumi & Kvemo-Sveneti and Upper Svaneti have suffered the heaviest damage, with houses partially or completely washed away.

Overall, close to 3,000 families with some 1,800 children have been forced to evacuate their houses due to flood water and mud slides. While most people have found shelter with relatives and neighbours, many still remain in desperate need of first aid supplies, basic medicines, safe water and hygiene items.

The UNICEF aid includes 85 Emergency Health Kits for primary health care centres in Racha-Lechkhumi, Svaneti, Ajara, Imereti, Mtskheta-Mtianeti and Shida Kartli Regions. Each Kit contains enough basic drugs, medical supplies and equipment for a population of 1,000 persons for three months.

More than 2,600 people living in the affected regions have received Adult Hygiene Kits containing basic hygiene items for two adults. In addition, every affected family has received two kits.

School-in-a-box Kits have been delivered to 166 schools in the flood regions to facilitate the start of the new schooling year. Each school kit serves 80 students and, in addition to basic school supplies such as exercise books pencils, erasers and scissors, includes a wooden teaching clock, plastic cubes for counting and a set of three laminated posters showing the alphabet, numbers and multiplication tables.

Produced by the UN Humanitarian Affairs Team

For more information or your comments and suggestions please contact Ms. Maka Esaiashvili, Information Officer.
Address: 9 Eristavi Street, Tbilisi, Georgia. Tel: (995 32) 95 95 16, 94 31 63. Fax: (995 32) 95 95 16; e-mail: maka.esaiashvili@undp.org.ge