Georgia’s IDPs Find a Measure of Relief in Upgrades
March 12, 2014
Nino Kobaladze says that for Georgia’s Internally Displaced People, or IDPs, every bit of money counts, as does every bit of food and space.
So when Kobaladze ran out of places to store what she produces herself from her small plot of land in the Georgian IDP settlement of Skra, it was a problem.
“I used my house for storage and almost the whole room was occupied, and I had to put some of it under my bed,” said Kobaladze.
Since getting a separate space to store the fruits, vegetables and other products she stores in jars for winter, she said there is more space in her two-room home for herself and her family.
She said she was also saving money, because she can produce and stock more now, instead of buying products.
The new storage spaces in Skra were built through a government-run IDP Community Development Project to upgrade the lives of tens of thousands of IDPs in Georgia, displaced in the country’s border conflicts with neighboring Russia over Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Under this project supported by the World Bank, IDP settlement members such as 27-year-old Ana Khmiadashvili formed committees to relay their communities’ needs to government authorities.
“We gather and discuss problems, such as those concerning trash or roads, or other issues. And then we do something about it,” Khmiadashvili said about the committees.
It was through these committees that Ana’s settlement in Skra asked and received the government funding needed to build separate storage units, which help residents produce and save more at home, as well as to sell in markets.
In the settlement of Karaleti, IDP committees asked for government funding to construct a playground in their community so the area’s youth would no longer have to go long distances or cross dangerous streets to find one.
It is very good that we have this playground here because it is safer, and because our children don’t have to cross the street and when you come out of your house, you see your children playing in front of the house.
Under the development project, 40 different IDP settlements around Georgia received 47 various micro-projects to improve services, infrastructure, and livelihoods.
Each of the micro-projects was implemented through community-based committees, which allowed residents to agree on the different development priorities of their settlements.
“We have committees in each building that are responsible for the projects. They meet, discuss, and decide the priorities of the settlement and chose the relevant project to be implemented,” said Boris Kolbaia, a resident of an IDP settlement in Kopitnari.
He said residents of his settlement asked to be hooked up to the national gas grid, and that soon, people would heat their homes with natural gas, instead electricity, which is more expensive.
In the IDP settlement of Mtskheta, residents asked through their representative committee for a proper road to be built.
“I use the road frequently, of course, and there is a huge difference. We are no longer bringing mud into our houses, and our houses are cleaner,” said Mtskheta resident, Ema Sakoeva.
Sakoeva and other Mtskheta residents said they now had easier and quicker access to towns and services nearby via an asphalt road, instead of the muddy dirt path they had before.
In Georgia much has been achieved in improving the housing conditions for IDPs. The time is right to adopt a holistic approach so that housing support is complemented by improved livelihood opportunities.