1.       Workshops in Nowy Sacz to prepare 22 community leaders to use the Public Achievement (PA) program to solve local problems and workshops in Zywiec for 8 others who learned how to build eco-sewerage treatment plants for individual houses.

In June 2009, 30 Georgian IDP’s (both from the “old” wave in the 1990’s as well as the “new” wave from August 2008) were invited to Poland for 10 days.  A smaller group of 8 individuals spent the time in Zywiec, where, under the guidance of the Zywiec Development Foundation, they built home eco-sewerage treatment plants.  This was hands-on practice.  After first watching a detailed instructional film and learning the basic tenets of such a system, the group physically built two functioning home eco-sewerage treatment plants. 

The remaining 22 participants spent the time in Nowy Sacz where they took part in an extended Public Achievement and leadership training to acquire a set of skills aimed at organizing group work in order to solve problems faced by the group.  In addition to the workshops run by MTO, the participants met with the students of Splot high and middle school to present the situation in Georgia and learn more about innovations in education.  They also visited two active local NGO’s, “Hope” - Association of Parents and Friends of Handicapped Children and Brother Albert Association to learn how the Third Sector can tackle community problems.

  1.       Supervision in building eco-sewerage treatment plants and on-going consultations in a village as well as in the nearby new settlement.

In July 2009, two trainers from MTO and two others from ZFR, visited Georgia to make assess project progress, provide consultations and assistance.  It turns out that in spite of the availability of funds for materials, the work on the treatment plants had not begun due to logistical concerns.  On one hand materials were substantially more expensive than in Poland and planned in the budget or not available at all, on the other hand, lack of water in some areas made the system impractical and new locations needed to be decided upon.  The Polish presence helped move the process along and one of the trainers extended her visit in order to facilitate the process.  Given the new circumstances it was decided to build two instead of three such plants for 3 families in Shavshvebi, one in the new settlement and the other in the village inhabited by the IDP’s.

  1.       PA seminars to support PA work run in Tbilisi by IDPWA “Consent”.

From August to December 2009, our Georgian partner ran not 6, but 8 workshops for Public Achievement mentors to support and supplement their original training.  During these meetings there was the opportunity to discuss the problems chosen by the various groups, methods of resolving them, successes and hurdles.  Thanks to the assistance and consultations by trainers from IDPWA, 15 PA groups came into existence (7 more than originally projected). A detailed description of these groups can be found under PA program in Georgia.

  1.       Workshops in Tbilisi on creating small businesses run by MTO and local trainers.

During the July visit by MTO trainers, a 4-day workshop on creating small business took place.  There was huge interest and 22 participants were chosen from various settlements.  We were able to find a Georgian expert, Nino Shapatava, who not only ran part of the workshops, but also provided individual and small group consultations in the following two months.  Our second partner, the Association of Young Lawyers of Georgia (GYLA) provided material, information and assistance for the legal aspects of small business registration and taxes.

The results exceeded our expectations.  We had projected 10 functioning businesses, but with 17 high-quality business plans, the committee decided to provide seed money for all applicants.  Additional funding was provided by MTO from 1% donations.  It was a pleasure to actually visit these new businesses during the October monitoring visit.  The business ideas included

  • Making and selling jewelry in collective centre “Digomi”, Tbilisi
  • Breeding rabbits in Tetritskaro district, village Koda
  • Beekeeping in Gori district, village Guguteantkari
  • Second-hand shop in Gori
  • Traditional Georgian Bread Bakery in Gardabani
  • Setting up a Car Wash in Gardabani
  • Building a greenhouse for coriander, parsley, etc. in Kindergarten 157 in Vazisubani, Tbilisi
  • Traditional fast-food (bakery) in Tbilisi
  • Auto spare part shop in Gori
  • Beauty salon in Tetritskaro district, village Koda
  • Breeding quail in collective centre “Digomi”, Tbilisi
  • Distribution of flour and feed for cows in collective centre “Qartli”, Gori
  • Sewing shop in Gori
  • Bakery in Shavshvebi, cottage # 79
  • Beekeeping in Qitsnisi, Gori district
  • Internet Café  “IT WORLD” in collective centre “Digomi”, Tbilisi
  • Breeding pigs in Tetritskaro district, village Koda

During discussions with the new businessmen and women, we learned that many of them intended to use profits to expand the current enterprise or even create a new one (apple orchard) to enable them to hire other IDP’s.  Such initiatives support the policy of decreasing unemployment and integrating IDP’s into the larger community, which will reduce future conflict and lead to more stability in the country.  We wish all our participants much success in their own businesses and in improving the lot of IDP’s in general.

  1.       Workshops in Tbilisi on social entrepreneurship run by MTO trainers.

In October two MTO trainers ran a 4-day workshop on social entrepreneurship for 17 young IDP’s.  Discussions focused on the role of each sector with emphasis on that of the third sector, the creation of NGO’s and what types of problems they address.  The group created three sub-groups based on area of interest:

  • Students of the University of Sukhumi in exile focused on creating an organization that would improve educational standards and university facilities and provide more opportunities for students.  They also had the innovative idea of creating an alumnae club – something almost unknown in this part of the world!

  • Water, the lack of water and the lack of clean water were the main focus of the group from Gardabani who chose as their logo a running tap crossed out.  They would like to focus both on methods of conserving water (a widespread problem throughout Georgia) and how to prevent local industry from polluting water.

  • Drug use and abuse is a serious problem that the group from Bolnisi intends to tackle.  They explored methods of social advertising as well as help lines and centers for addicts.

The group members continued to attend workshops by and receive support from IDPWA “Consent”.  They now have the tools needed and we are confident that sooner or later they will actually register new NGO’s to fully deal with these and other issues.

  1.       Eco-Conference in Tbilisi on access to water, hygiene and sewerage treatment, with presentations by experts from Poland, Slovakia and Georgia and attended by numerous representatives of Georgian and international NGOs and government.

This two-day conference was successfully organized by IDPWA “Consent”.  It was well-attended by 26 representatives from various ecological organizations and institutions at the national and local levels.  MTO and ZFR represented Poland, moderated and made presentations.  A key presentation was also made by Michal Kravcik, founder and president of “People and Water” in Slovakia and ASHOKA Fellow.  As an expert in global water conservation, he presented the case study of his High Tatra initiative and how lessons and practices from there are applicable to the situation of Georgia.

The first day of the conference was devoted to water and its conservation; the second focused on sewerage treatment.  Kravcik’s presentation addressed the global, local and specific problems of water with special attention to the of the IDP settlements in Georgia which he had visited to understand the Georgian situation.  Gabriela Gibas (ZFR) presented the model of the Zywiec eco-sewerage treatment plant which was a source of much interest.  There were presentations by Georgian and international entities with various ideas, methods and solutions, lively discussions, requests for materials, contacts and further cooperation. 

In addition to criticism of the government, most striking was the complaint that there is total lack of coordination of activities and initiatives in this area.  It is not that nothing is being done, but the situation of access to and quality of water remains critical and with it hygiene is very poor.  Many international organizations are aware of the scale of the problem and are active, but each does whatever wherever which results in duplication, mutual interference, frustration and inadequate results.

This conference was the first of its kind organized on such a scale and enabled stakeholders on all levels to be heard and interact.  We hope that the resulting contacts will lead to more fruitful cooperation and better results.

  1. Monitoring by IDPWA “Consent” of local eco-sewerage treatment plants and social entrepreneurship undertakings.

IDPWA “Consent” took very seriously their role as partner and local coordinators of the joint project.  Members of their organization made multiple visits to all of the settlements and individuals involved in the project activities, traveled long distances to consult, advise, assist with difficulties, train, congratulate and encourage further work.  Thanks to their hard work and dedication, the successes were greater and the difficulties less painful.   We were in regular contact with both Marina Pochkhua, project coordinator and Julia Kharashvili, IDPWA president.  They have keen interest and extensive knowledge of the IDP situation in Georgia and always knew who was doing what and where.  We look forward to continued cooperation with them in the future.

  1. Monitoring and consultations by MTO of local PA groups and their activities.
  2. Trilingual (Georgian, Polish and English) report describing project methods and outcomes in the form of a brochure (500 copies) which was distributed for free to participants, participating communities, and sponsors. 

As a result of our project, participants feel less helpless and more empowered, better organized and able to cooperate to address local problems.  More importantly they are beginning to believe in their own ability to improve their situation which bodes well for the sustainability of the changes made during the project.  Concretely, participants created 15 PA groups which are dealing with local problems, 17 new small businesses, and two model eco-sewerage system plants (one in a village and the second in Shavshvebi settlement).  We also expect around 5 new small grant applications from the social entrepreneurs who were trained.  All three partner organizations are committed to continuing work with IDPs.  Therefore we expect further development of the initiatives begun in this project.

We would like to thank the Polish MFA for the generous support that has made this program possible!  We believe that the project has significantly contributed to improving the situation of IDPs in Georgia and we intend to continue our work there.