Georgia

OCHA-Georgia Information Bulletin for the period 1-28 Feb 2003

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Humanitarian Situation and Strategy 2003 Conference

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) organized a conference on humanitarian issues and presented the 2003 Humanitarian Situation and Strategy document on 11 February. The impetus for this initiative was the widespread perception of reduced funding for humanitarian assistance, while at the same time several assessments and reports indicated increasing vulnerabilities and humanitarian needs throughout the country. OCHA compiled the document based on consultations and input from donors, UN agencies, NGOs and Government officials. Representatives from these organizations participated in the conference. The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator opened the conference.

The conference highlighted four prioritized areas: Children's Welfare and Protection, IDPs, Food Security and Abkhazia and South Ossetia. A panel was devoted to each topic and presented a summary of strategies, continuing needs or priorities, and specific recommendations for the future. Crosscutting recommendations were summarized that applied to all areas:

  • Mobilizing additional funding to ensure well-targeted assistance for extremely vulnerable and marginalized individuals or households.

  • Refining concepts of vulnerability and criteria related to assistance programming and improving data collection and analysis.

  • Continue building national capacities (government and civil society), especially in health and social sectors, to protect the vulnerable population.

  • Building linkages from relief assistance to rehabilitative and developmental programming to increase self-reliance and self-sufficiency among vulnerable populations and communities.
The first panel -- Children's Welfare and Protection -- described three specific humanitarian concerns focusing on children: institutionalized children, street children and disabled children and inclusive education. Georgia's difficult social and economic transition has severely affected children while attitudes and methods for reaching at-risk children require significant changes to better address children's needs.

Approximately 5000 children are institutionalized in Georgia, and when they 'age out' of institutions, they form a segregated underclass in mainstream society. Far too many children are placed in institutions due to dysfunctional family situations or poverty. More trainings for social workers, increased community-based services, development of a national plan of deinstitutionalisation, child-specific information and budgets were among the recommendations presented to alleviate the continued practice of institutionalizing children.

In the past 5-6 years, the number of street children in Georgia has doubled to an estimated 1500, most of whom also come from dysfunctional and socially vulnerable families. More community services for at-risk children and families are needed, including psychosocial counseling and rehabilitation, mobile services, professional trainings, public awareness, etc. It is necessary to develop human resources and community-based services such as youth centers and familial reintegration programmes.

Education for children with disabilities still suffers from Soviet era attitudes rather than mainstreaming children into regular schools whenever possible. The resulting social segregation and stigmatism prevents these children from ever becoming members of mainstream society, and necessitating special care and assistance. It is widely recognized, however, that 'normal' education provides the best educational opportunity for children. The panel presented more information on inclusive education and urged the Government and NGOs to work toward this goal.

Basic and some urgent humanitarian needs still exist among some IDPs for food, health, and shelter. Continued efforts to facilitate a peaceful solution to the two conflicts are needed to ultimately reduce the ongoing legacy of need among the displaced and host communities in Georgia. Recommendations such as better targeted assistance to the most vulnerable IDPs, durable shelter solutions, improved access to affordable health care and education, and development of more self-reliance schemes to reduce individual vulnerability were proposed.

Georgia is a food insecure country, primarily because a large proportion of the population is unable to access sufficient nutritious food due to increased poverty and vulnerability in the country. Agriculture is currently the main source of livelihood in the country. Improvements are needed in agricultural productivity as well as social welfare systems. The Minister of Agriculture and Food participated on the panel and summarized some of the proposed components of the Ministry's 2003 strategy for food security and sustainable agricultural development.

The final panel -- Abkhazia and South Ossetia -- described the specific needs in the two separatist regions and some of the additional constraints in providing assistance there. A review of existing needs and gaps was a recommendation as was the need for basic rehabilitation of infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, and dwellings. The health sector was prioritized for additional support. Local civil society and NGOs in both areas remains weak and should be supported. Income generation activities were also recommended since there are no opportunities for vulnerable people to mobilize their resources to be more reliant. Rehabilitation in the conflict areas is on the verge of emergency needs and may help create more conducive conditions for return of the displaced populations.

A copy of the Humanitarian Situation and Strategy is available at the OCHA office at: 9 Eristavi Street, UN House. Tel.: (995 32) 95 95 16, 94 31 63, or can be downloaded from www.reliefweb.int

Skill Trades and Re-employment Training Programme by Counterpart International

Counterpart International's Skill Trades and Re-employment Training (START) programme is a one-year pilot project funded by the Georgia Self-Reliance Fund (GSRF). Through the implementation of the START project, Counterpart aims to increase the earning potential of IDPs living in Samegrelo region. This innovative START approach improves self-reliance through the creation of apprenticeships and the provision of employment support and training. The START programme was launched in June 2002.

START targets young, currently unemployed heads of households residing in collective centres, as candidates for employment training and on-the-job mentoring with local employers. The selected IDPs were targeted based on limited access to land and inadequate educational opportunities. This group comprises persons who were displaced in their childhood and have now reached adulthood, but due to interrupted educations, have limited employment options.

Training topics included household financial planning and accounting, household tax and legal issues, business tax and legal issues, business plans preparation and market research techniques. Fourteen IDPs participated in the training. Besides its primary goal, the trainings provide an opportunity for IDPs residing in different regions to meet and share information.

For more information about the START project, please contact Ms. Ia Esebua, Counterpart Zugdidi Office Manager. Address: 3 Lazi street. Tel.: (8 215) 5 00 75, or Counterpart Tbilisi office. Tel.: 77 96 69.

Announcements:

West Georgia Community Mobilisation Initiative (West GCMI) has issued a Community-Based Health Financing (CBHF) Request for Applications (RFA) and accepts proposals from NGOs in western Georgia. CBHF is one of the essential components of community-based primary health care (PHC) system.

CBHF can be defined as a set of financial and management arrangements between health care providers (HCP), consumers (patients) and purchasers (public or private; group or individual) that improves sustainability, quality and rational utilisation of medical services.

RFA instructions and application forms may be downloaded from the West GCMI project website: www.west-gcmi.care.org.ge or received on diskettes from West GCMI staff in the CARE/Tbilisi, Kutaisi and other West GCMI satellite offices. Also, applicants may receive a hardcopy of the USAID regulations from the CARE/Kutaisi, Tbilisi or other West GCMI satellite offices.

Proposals should be submitted in "tender boxes" located in the CARE Tbilisi, CARE Kutaisi, CARE Zugdidi, CARE Batumi, CARE Ambrolauri or CARE Mestia offices by 6 PM on 3 March 2003. Informational meetings for interested applicants will be held in Kutaisi.

Produced by OCHA Georgia.

For more information, please contact Ms. Maka Esaiashvili, Information Officer
Tel/Fax: 995-32-959516; Tel: 995-32-943163; e-mail: unocha@unocha.org.ge

Contributions are welcome and should reach OCHA, 9 Eristavi St., Tbilisi by 12.00 hrs. on 9th 19th, and 29th of each month

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.