Advocating for rural development in Georgia

The European Union supports rural communities in advocating for their better future through improved engagement in local decision-making processes.
TBILISI. 3 June 2020 – A first rural development Advocacy Manual in Georgia “Advocacy for Sustainable and Inclusive Rural Development” has been produced with the support of the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in partnership with the Civil Development Agency (CiDA) under the ENPARD programme. The Manual has been developed as part of a broader effort to promote local activism in rural areas with over 150 participants from the municipalities of Tetritskaro, Lagodekhi, Dedoplistskaro, Akhalkalaki, Borjomi, Kazbegi, Keda and Khulo. 
The advocacy manual is intended to equip local community members and self-organized citizen unions with practical knowledge and instruments to carry out advocacy activism in their respective municipalities and promote the concept of rural development across the country. The advocacy activism is expected to help establish constructive working relations between the citizens and local self-government bodies, assist in shaping local rural development projects and increase the Government accountability for achieving tangible results for the benefit of people and communities.
“Civic activism for rural development is a widely recognised practice in the European Union. It is also an important part of the EU’s long-standing support to rural development process in Georgia. By empowering local communities and enabling them to advocate for the local needs-based policies and actions, the EU helps to advance participatory local development to improve living standards and diversify economic opportunities in rural areas,” says Ketevan Khutsishvili, Programme Manager for Rural Development, Civil Emergencies and Crisis Management.
The manual combines information about citizens’ activism practice recognised in the EU countries with existing Georgian experience, highlighting successful advocacy initiatives from Georgia as well as guidelines developed by international organizations. It was prepared as a result of a participatory process bringing together thematic experts, members of local civil society, LAGs, farmers, small businesses as well as representatives of municipal authorities. Discussions with representatives of the Government of Georgia also focused on the impact of local advocacy activism on the national policy making, the importance of networking and the role of private and civil society representatives in this process.
The EU is supporting agriculture and rural development in Georgia through its ENPARD programme. Implemented since 2013 with a total budget of EUR 179.5 million, the main goal of ENPARD is to provide economic opportunities in rural area and reduce poverty in Georgia. More information on ENPARD is available at: www.enpard.ge.