New UNDP Grant Program Promotes Civic Activism in Georgia

In a bid to foster government accountability and support civic activism, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has issued grants worth a total of USD 315,000 to 18 civil society organisations in six Georgian regions: Imereti, Mtskheta-Mtianeti, Kvemo Kartli, Guria, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti. The initiative is part of a Danish-funded USD 4 million programme to support good governance.

The grants are the result of a competitive call for proposals to foster greater participation by citizens in decision-making and implementation at the local level, with particular focus on promoting the engagement of women, youth and ethnic minorities. As a result, UNDP will fund 11 projects, each worth some USD 30,000, that will engage 3,000 citizens in 31 municipalities.

“Civic engagement is vital to ensure that local governments respond to local needs,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “Getting citizens involved is still a challenge in Georgia, however, so our aim is to help create space and tools for local communities to have a say in matters that affect them.”

The successful proposals will employ a range of tools to expand civic participation, including petition writing and participation in municipal boards of advisors; creating a dedicated online platform to collect and disseminate knowledge about participatory practices; and strengthening collaboration between the civil sector and local self-government.

In Kvemo Kartli, for example, UNDP grants will be used to fund activities by local youth initiative groups and promote volunteering and social media platforms to address social issues.

In Imereti, civil society projects will focus on creating a discussion space for local authorities, civic activists and business, and on assisting citizens in taking a more active part in planning municipal budgets.

In Guria, the UNDP grant will assist the local “Participation Academy” in organising educational programmes in decentralization and public engagement, and in Samegrelo-Zemo-Svaneti, local organizations will help submit public petitions to address the most pressing social and economic issues and protect vulnerable groups – internally displaced persons, people with disabilities, the elderly and children without family care.       

Increasing citizens’ participation and engagement in self-governance is one of the main goals of Georgia’s national Decentralisation Strategy 2020-2015, which was prepared with UNDP support and adopted in December 2019. The grant programme responds directly to this objective.

22 January 2021 16:37