The Georgia Red Cross Society was established in 1918 and recognized officially by the Soviet authorities as part of the Soviet Red Cross Red Crescent Alliance. After Georgia gained its independence in 1991, the Red Cross was recognized by a presidential decree in 1993. The parliament adopted the Law on the Red Cross in 1997, making the National Society an auxiliary to the government, with a statutory obligation to help people in need. In the same year the Georgia Red Cross Society was recognized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and became a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. It is the oldest humanitarian organization in the country with a network of local branches in most of the regions.
In 2001, due to uncertainty over the leadership of the National Society, the International Federation reduced its presence in Georgia. In 2003, guided by the results of an assessment that confirmed that there were pressing humanitarian needs on the ground and opportunities for change, the International Federation restarted cooperation with the National Society anew; the process of rebuilding the organization has been ongoing since then. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement partners have been supporting the process from the beginning with advice, guidelines and best practices. Institutional reform encompasses new levels of transparency and an improved image for the National Society. A review was commissioned on its organizational capacities in 2006, initiated, resourced and conducted jointly by the International Federation, ICRC and the Norwegian Red Cross. The review identified several areas where significant progress has been made.
The National Society has improved its legal base by revising and approving new statutes which secure compliance both with the national legislation, as well as with the minimum requirements of the International Federation. Significant progress was made in 2007, the statutes implementation process started in the branches and central level elections were held. Financial management was improved by establishing finance units at the local level, developing and revising guidelines, tools and procedures. An external financial audit was conducted and the recommendations provided by the audit company were consolidated in the 2007-2011 long-term strategic plan.
The 2007-2011 long-term development plan of the National Society has been approved, including respective strategies according to its priority areas. The Georgia Red Cross youth has become more active and its capacities have been developed through organizing and conducting different kinds of Red Cross activities.
Despite the achievements recorded, challenges remain. The National Society has limited financial resources of its own and programme funding mainly depends on the International Federation's appeal. Currently, the majority of the National Society's income is generated from membership fees, and through multilateral and bilaterally supported programmes.
However, the economic situation in the country does not lend itself to developing local partnerships and successful fund-raising. Despite government changes in 2003 during the so-called "rose revolution" and efficient democratic and economic reform, economic and social conditions in the country remain dismal. Basic services function poorly or not at all, the unemployment rate is very high and prices are rising. The socio-economic crisis and structural reforms that the country is going through affect all groups, but it is the elderly people that are most severely affected. Furthermore, growing numbers of people are at risk from HIV and Tuberculosis (TB); both diseases are spreading at an alarming rate. Again poverty, combined with poor public awareness and inadequate health and care, exacerbates the threat.
In August 2008 conflict erupted in South Ossetia and soon widened with fighting also reported in Abkhazia and air strikes including near Tbilisi. The conflict, which ended after approximately a week, resulted in tens of thousands fleeing the areas. Still several thousands have not been able to return home and are in need of assistance for the upcoming winter.
Taking into consideration the context of the country and the priorities established by the Georgia Red Cross Society, within the planning process for 2009-2010 the International Federation will provide support in the fields of disaster management, health and care, organizational development and principles and values. Capacity building efforts within disaster management, first aid and psychosocial support will be further pursued, as these were particular focus areas for funds allocated from the International Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to meet the humanitarian needs following the recent conflict in the country.
Furthermore, support will be provided in accordance with the International Federation's Global Agenda Goals, the Federation Strategy 2010 and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), commitments and outcomes of the VII European Red Cross Red Crescent Conference in Istanbul and decisions of the 16th session of the International Federation's General Assembly whilst taking into consideration the New Operating Model (NOM) of the International Federation.
The disaster management programme will focus on the National Society's organizational preparedness, community-based disaster prevention and preparedness and disaster risk reduction. The programme will establish mechanisms for efficient institutional preparedness and coordination during disasters. It will also work to increase community awareness of what are effective actions to take during disasters, while at the same time reducing the vulnerability of communities in disaster-prone areas through timely information and capacity building activities.
The health and care programme focuses on expanding people's knowledge about prevention, transmission and treatment of HIV and TB, developing community-based health promotion, social care to elderly people living alone and increasing the activities of the National Society in the field of first aid and voluntary non-remunerated blood donor recruitment. Furthermore the National Society aims to build basic capacity within psychosocial support.
By implementing the organizational development programme the Georgia Red Cross Society will contribute to achieving Global Agenda goal three, through improved capacities at the headquarters and local branch level, strengthened volunteer and youth management, and improved services to the communities by using the participatory community development (PCD) approach.
The priority of the principles and values programme is disseminating the Fundamental Principles of the Movement and promoting humanitarian values in the communities and among the staff, members and volunteers of the National Society. The programme will promote the culture of non-discrimination among people from different ethnical backgrounds, decrease stigma against people living with HIV (PLHIV) and reduce social isolation of vulnerable children and elderly people living alone.
The total 2009-2010 budget is CHF 1,277,421 (USD 1,167,661 or EUR 813,644).