According to data received from the Department of Statistics of Georgia, eighty percent of Georgia's population lived under the poverty level in 1993-1994. Currently, fifty-two percent of population lives in this condition. Victims of wars and natural disasters, single disabled citizens, orphans and children lacking parents' care, handicapped and those who cannot independently realize their rights as citizens and protect their legal interests have found themselves in the most difficult social condition. Information about Questioned Organizations
Twenty-seven humanitarian NGOs from both within and outside of Tbilisi filled out questionnaires and fifteen organizations participated in the concluding workshop held in Horizonti's office in Tbilisi on March 17-18, 1998.
Based on interviews with humanitarian NGOs, approximately 22% were founded in 1989, 11% in 1990, 7% in 1992, and 4% in 1993. Since 1993, the percentage of newly registered NGOs has increased each year: 7% in 1994, 11% in 1995, 15% in 1996, and 22% in 1997.
Humanitarian NGOs - An Alternative to the Soviet Social Security Infrastructures
Humanitarian NGOs were established during the democratization processes in Georgia and initially found themselves in competition with State agencies, which had previously monopolized all kinds of social services.
The humanitarian NGOs work in a variety of fields including the traditional ones such as problems of orphanages and senior citizens, as well as previously taboo ones, such as rehabilitation of the victims of political repression and drug addiction. The organizations differ in their level of organizational sophistication, as well as in their goals and objectives.
Most of the organizations (over fifty percent) are providing direct support to target groups (orphans, children of those who died while performing their official duties, socially unprotected women and teenagers, homeless, needy elderly, etc.); the second largest group (approximately thirty percent) is focusing on addressing problems of people with mental and physical disabilities.
Most are "foundations (funds)," dedicated to providing assistance to a segment of the population outside of their organizations; a few are "associations," dedicated to serving and protecting the rights of their members.
Priority Social Groups and Geographic Areas
Based on this survey, the handicapped, the unemployed youth, the refugees, the children lacking care, the pensioners, the mentally and physically disabled, the homeless and the families with low income are in most desperate of NGO assistance and support.Geographically, the most support is needed in the following regions: areas which suffered from natural disasters, the large cities (where it is impossible to grow agricultural products), the regions of Georgia with difficult climatic, social and demographic conditions, the regions with ethnic conflicts, and the regions with poor and little land resources.
Experience: Hindering and Supporting Factors
Humanitarian NGOs recognize the role of Third Sector as well as their position in the sector. They have formed contacts with international donor organizations, government and businesses. A number of organizations have succeeded in identifying and targeting particularly needy social categories of the population. Some have established entrepreneurial activities as sources for self-financing.
According to the survey, humanitarian NGOs have gained trust from government, donors, and the population. They have been able to attract society's interest in the problems of socially vulnerable groups and provide humanitarian assistance to these priority groups.
The NGOs identified the following as internal and external obstacles they face: lack of experience; lack of information and finances; lack of material-technical base; incomplete legal basis in country; poor organization of local governments; corruption in the state structures.
Humanitarian NGOs believe that their members are their major assets. They list their intellectual capabilities, their eagerness and enthusiasm, their prompt accommodation to unusual situations, and their desire (and the existence of opportunities) for further qualification (trainings and seminars) as important reasons for organizational success. They also note the solidarity and cooperation between NGOs, the advancement of democratic values, the development of communication systems, and several recently passed laws establishing rights of socially vulnerable groups as key factors in helping the activities of humanitarian NGOs.
They consider their ability to initiate and implement activities and their capability to acquire and manage finances and to attract volunteers major strengths. Still, the humanitarian NGOs note weaknesses in their ability to attract finances since their organizational structures are underdeveloped and their organizational management skills are weak. They do not feel they fully realize and utilize opportunities for cooperation with state structures.
Interviewed humanitarian NGO's consider the following projects highest priority: projects associated with social adaptation of the handicapped (employment, provision of their movement, involvement in sports, etc.), projects focusing on social adaptation and rehabilitation of the mentally ill, educational projects for socially vulnerable children, and projects focusing on affecting society's mentality.
The humanitarian NGOs note isolated cases of moral and other support from relevant government structures but commented that usually such agencies ignore both the rights and assistance of NGOs, causing the latter to turn to various types of protest. The participants expressed commitment to participate in seminars together with the government officials in order to help both sides better realize the role and importance of humanitarian NGOs.
Relations with Business Sector
The NGOs in this survey noted that the business sector often assists humanitarian NGOs financially. Humanitarian NGOs would like to participate more frequently in meetings to introduce their activities to representatives of businesses.
Humanitarian NGOs distribute the humanitarian aid received in Georgia from the international organizations, they are members of international associations, they are often financed by international organizations, and they participate in trainings and seminars and programs organized by international organizations.
There is a great desire for the humanitarian NGOs to cooperate amongst themselves. Fifty percent of those interviewed identified cooperation and alliances with the other humanitarian NGOs as one of the most important directions of their activities. According to the participants, this high percentage could be the result of past success when humanitarian NGOs made considerable improvements through joint actions and cooperation.
Resources of Humanitarian NGOs
The survey identified financing as a priority problem for the participants. Only 15 percent of the organizations have an annual budget over 50,000 USD. Approximately 22 percent had access to e-mail and only 11 percent to the Internet.
Sources of Financing
A large percentage of these NGOs receive financing from local private donations (48%) and from membership fees (44%). Although governmental structures are the least common source of financing, some NGOs listed governmental agencies as their sole donor. Approximately 22 percent have received grants from Georgian foundations and 26% from foreign and international organizations.
The most common sphere of activity for these groups is health protection and children's issues; other common spheres of activity include: culture, environment protection, problems of youth and women, education, community development, scientific research activities, and public diplomacy.
Needs Assessment of Youth NGOs
According to nearly all NGOs, Georgia's youth today face a particularly difficult social and psychological situation and need special attention and assistance from NGOs. According to official data, the youth unemployment rate is twice as high as that of other categories of the working population. Because of the war, many youth are disabled and some young mothers widowed. The youth drug use rate and the youth criminal rate are particularly alarming.
Information about Questioned Organizations
Twenty-six NGOs working on youth problems (from within and outside of Tbilisi) filled out Horizonti's questionnaire. Fourteen of those participated in the final seminar held in Tbilisi on February 3-4, 1998. The large majority (about seventy percent) of the NGOs participating in the process were established between 1994 and 1997.
Priority Social Groups and Regions
Based on the surveys, the NGOs felt that the following youth populations within Georgia need the most immediate attention: young refugees, disabled (especially participants of the war), unemployed youth, and students. The NGOs felt that, geographically, youth living in the mountainous areas, demographically complex regions, and zones of ethnic conflict of Georgia are facing particularly difficult situations.
Experience: Successes and Obstacles
These NGOs have initiated and implemented numerous projects responding to the needs of youth. Sixty-two percent of the participating organizations had implemented at least one project. As a result of this experience, the participating organizations cited both external and internal organizational obstacles to their activities. NGOs focusing on youth problems have implemented educational and humanitarian assistance projects. They are experienced in organizing cultural, as well as protest activities. They conduct informational and publishing activities and have established international contacts. They care for both socially unprotected children and talented youth.
The enthusiasm of members and the support from volunteers appear to be the primary assets contributing to the success of the organizations. The NGOs state that cooperation both with international organizations and amongst NGOs themselves has played a critical role in the success. Training and seminars organized by local and international organizations have further supported their development.
Some factors, which hinder the success of youth NGOs include: an incomplete legislation framework, bureaucracy in state structures, the social-economic crisis, stereotypes in the public mentality, and weak material and technical bases.
The ability to establish friendly and collegiate relations, an openness to innovative ideas and constant connection with constituents were considered as primary strengths of those NGOs focusing on youth problems. In addition, they considered the intelligence and overall democratic attitudes of the leaders of organizations as valuable assets. On the other hand, the level of organizational management remains low. The organizations recognize they fail to utilize available resources fully and to implement successful human resources policies; they comment that their financial and information management is not efficient and that members have poor foreign language and computer skills.
The following projects were enumerated as priorities by the organizations: activities with the ethnic minorities living in the regions of Georgia, initiation of meetings between youth organizations (especially Caucasus organizations), establishment of a free legal consulting center for socially unprotected youth, self employment of youth, psycho-social and physical rehabilitation of disabled youth, solutions to demographic problems, and assistance to those particularly talented youth in socially vulnerable groups.
Resources of NGO's
Only half of NGOs participating utilize any form of annual budget. Of these, eleven percent have an annual budget of under 500 Lari, fifteen percent from 500 to 1000 Lari, eight percent from 5000 to 10,000 Lari, eight percent from 10,000 to 50,000 Lari, and four percent over 50,000 Lari (approximate rate of Lari to USD$ is 1.35). Twenty-seven percent of the organizations do not have an office. Only nineteen percent have access to fax and Internet.
Organizations consider lack of funds as one of the most challenging problems. Sixty-one percent of organizations said that membership fees and private donations are their major source of financing. Forty-two percent have received grants from international organizations, eight percent have received governmental grants, and fifteen percent have been financed from the local businesses. Self-financing (fees for service, revenues from the activities) is also a source of funding for a number of organizations. The majority of these NGOs have more than fifty members, with nearly eight-five percent utilizing volunteers. Of these, the majority (over fifty percent) have between eight to twenty regular volunteers.
A clear consensus appeared during the process that the NGOs working on youth problems are ready to cooperate with the government and business on these problems, as well as with other active NGOs.