Fire in Akhaltsikhe municipality is localized
Emergency Situations management Agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs received notification from Emergency Response Center according to which fire broke out on the slope of the mountain, located near to Sviri village, Akhaltsikhe. Several minutes later after receiving the report, dozens of firefighters had operatively already arrived at the scene with firefighting technic.
Fire-extinguishing activities are led by the Minister of Internal Affairs –Giorgi Mgebrishvili and head of Emergency Situaations Manageent Agency- Nikoloz Siradze.
More than 100 of firefighters of the Emergency Situations management Agency were involved in the fire-extinguishing activities. Due to the difficult relief, Border Police helicopter and 170 employees of Special Tasks Department were involved in fire liquidation activities.
Fire-rescuers and Border Police helicopter carried out all necessary measures to localize the fire. At this moment the fire is localized and there is no risk of spreading fire. Liquidation activities are currently underway to extinguish particular fire pockets.
An agreement on future partnership cooperation was signed between Kutaisi and Xi'an
An agreement on future partnership cooperation was signed between Kutaisi and Xi'an. The signing ceremony took place online and was attended by the Mayor of Kutaisi City Municipality Ioseb Khakhaleishvili, Ambassador of Georgia to the People's Republic of China H.E. Mr. Archil Kalandia and the Mayor of Xi'an City Mr. Li Mingyuan. The parties agreed to develop friendship, partnership and cooperation in the fields of culture, education, healthcare and economy in the future.
,,Today a partnership was signed between Kutaisi and Xi'an. Our relationship with the city of Xi'an is important, because like Kutaisi, Xi'an is the oldest city of China, where the antiquities of Chinese culture and history are gathered. Also the history of these two cities and modern interests are intertwined. I would like to thank you to the Ambassador of Georgia to the People’s Republic of China H.E. Mr. Archil Kalandia, for his efforts in establishing friendly relations between Kutaisi and Xi'an. I believe that this friendship will be successful for both cities! ” - Said Ioseb Khakhaleishvili.
Responding to economic and social challenges faced by Georgia’s regions
Supporting women in politics – UNDP Head visits the Mayor of Dusheti
TBILISI. UNDP. 17 December 2021 – In the aftermath of the local elections in Georgia, UNDP opens a new chapter of cooperation with municipal authorities and local communities. Its multi-sectorial support covers technical assistance to local administrations, fosters good governance and economic development, and promotes initiatives that boost citizen participation and civic activism, create equal opportunities for women and youth and reduce the threats posed by climate-induced disasters.
UNDP support for Georgia’s regions draws on the resources provided by a range of donors, including Austria, Denmark, the European Union, the Green Climate Fund, Sweden and Switzerland.
On 16 December, UNDP Head Nick Beresford and Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Mzia Giorgobiani visited the Dusheti Municipality to discuss local needs with Mayor Manana Narimanidze, one of three women mayors who took office in 2021. Beresford and Giorgobiani met with the authorities and citizens and attended a vaccination session organised by UNDP and the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health as part of the ongoing ‘Vaccines4Life’ campaign.
“Public opinion surveys show that increasing the number of women in political positions has overwhelming popular support. Mayor Narimanidze is one of three women who won mayoral positions this year. UNDP is offering support, including the ICT equipment and training and education to local youth, in cooperation with the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure, the European Union and other partners. We also took the opportunity to help prevent COVID with a local vaccination drive,” Beresford said.
Dusheti is one of 48 Georgian municipalities that joined the EU-supported regional network ‘Mayors for Economic Growth’ (M4EG). Drawing on the resources of this joint EU-UNDP initiative, UNDP will help local authorities and communities to discover and explore innovative approaches to local governance and benefit from funding opportunities available for municipalities of the Eastern Partnership countries.
To enhance digitalization at the local level, UNDP donated the ICT equipment to the Dusheti Mayor’s office, including laptops, portable scanners and multifunctional printers. UNDP will also pilot a new initiative to promote digital services for local communities and increase the engagement of women and youth in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and ICT (Information and Communication Technologies). UNDP support will focus on advancing gender equality in governance, education and other areas, and on closing the digital gap faced by rural girls living in highlands.
The Dusheti Municipality, where 95 percent of settlements are located in high-mountainous areas, will continue benefitting from UNDP’s regional and local development programme funded by the governments of Austria and Switzerland, and from the decentralization initiatives funded by Denmark.
In the coming months, UNDP Head will visit municipalities across Georgia to meet with local authorities and communities and discuss UNDP support for addressing socio-economic challenges and discovering new development prospects.
UNICEF with the support from USAID/Georgia is organizing the information sessions in Samtskhe-Javakheti region about COVID-19 vaccinationUNICEF with the support from USAID/Georgia is organizing the information sessions in Samtskhe-Javakheti region about COVID-19 vaccination. UNICEF Representative in Georgia, Ghassan Khalil together with the representatives from National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, and health experts visited Akhalkalaki and Akhaltsikhe.The first meeting is happening now with the Orthodox Religious Leaders, to discuss topics such are COVID-19 vaccination, immunization programmes in Georgia and etc. The meeting will end with a discussion.Vaccines save millions of lives each year. The development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is a huge step forward in our global effort to end the pandemic and to get back to doing more of the things we enjoy with the people we love.UNICEF’s work is grounded on empirical data, independent evaluation, rigorous research and thoughtful analysis.UNICEF supports and uses research, evaluations and data to determine what works best for children. We draw on sound evidence to create programmes, campaigns and initiatives where they are most needed. Explore our reports, data and research.
Press Service of the UNICEF Georgia
EU and MRDI visit first results of GEL 220 million territorial development programme in Georgia’s regions
Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Georgia, Sigrid Brettel visited six municipalities in Imereti and Guria to see infrastructure projects with a value of 2.5 million GEL. These are part of the first phase of the Government’s GEL 220 million Pilot Integrated Regional Development Grant Programme, of which GEL 186 million comes from EU funding.
The six visited projects are part of the 11 initial projects financed by the PiRDP, which was launched in June 2020. They include:
Rehabilitation of the road and pedestrian bridge to stimulate local business and promote tourism in Labajouri, Vani Municipality, Imereti
Construction of a park in Sachkhere, Sachkhere municipality, Imereti
Development of a tourist and business development service center in the village of Vartsikhe, Baghdati municipality, Imereti
Rehabilitation of a Public Square in Samtredia, Samtredia municipality, Imereti
Construction of 1km or road along the “Tea Route” to develop tourism in the village of Bakhvi, Ozurgeti municipality, Guria
Rehabilitation of 2 road bridges and 100 m long riverbed wall, arrangement of 173 LED lights to develop a recreational area in Chokhatauri, Chokhatauri municipality, Guria.
Press Release of the Delegation of the EU to Georgia
Bolnisi establishes new platform for efficient business with support of EU Initiative
Residents of Bolnisi Municipality in Georgia’s Kvemo Kartli Region are improving their livelihoods after the municipal authorities provided them with practical tools and know-how to operate their businesses more efficiently. The corresponding project is financed by the European Union within the framework of the Mayors for Economic Growth (M4EG) Initiative.
Bolnisi is a multiethnic, mostly-rural region of Georgia, with a population of approximately 53,500. 63% of them are employed in the field of agriculture. Still, despite the existing opportunities in the agricultural sector, local producers rarely managed to optimise production and maximise their profits.
The reasons for this are partly traditional for rural areas – small-scale farmers do not have the skills or equipment to ensure the quality standards of their produce. The volumes of output are generally small and too fragmented to establish a strong regional reputation for local produce. And there’s also the specificity of the territory, which is home to a large proportion of ethnic Azerbaijani people, the majority of whom do not speak Georgian and stick to their traditional agricultural production without really considering the changing nuances of demand.
The Bolnisi Municipality is potentially attractive for tourists because of its rich cultural and historical heritage, unique local wines and food, and strategic location a 1-hour drive from the Georgian capital. But till a couple years ago, the tourism potential of the territory had been largely untapped.
This began to change in June 2017, when Bolnisi Municipality became a signatory of the European Union’s Initiative “Mayors for Economic Growth” and started work on its Local Economic Development Plan (LEDP). Later the same year, the municipality took part in the M4EG Call for Pioneer Projects, and became one of 16 winners out of 164 applicants. The European Union allocated €320,000 for the project “Establishing a platform for efficient flow of business activities in Bolnisi”. The entire project budget reached €380,000 with the co-funding of the local municipality.
Also, within its commitments to the “Mayors for Economic Growth” Initiative, Bolnisi Municipality developed a 2-year Local Economic Development Plan, defining the main economic priorities and goals, as well as the concrete Action Plan to achieve them. The Plan was assessed as excellent by independent experts of the World Bank.
Diagnosing the problems
When the project was launched at the beginning of 2018, the project team made sure to first study the local market, its potential, and the needs of local producers and entrepreneurs. The study, “Identifying production capacities and demand on locally produced goods, sources of supply, and assess business interest of peripheral customers in Bolnisi Municipality”, helped to identify three areas with a high potential for economic development: agriculture, winemaking and tourism. Their relative limitations were also thoroughly addressed in the study.
The research findings, presented in January 2019, showed that local farmers would usually sell their primary agricultural products for further processing, which takes place in neighbouring regions. Because of this, they were finding themselves at the very beginning of the local agricultural value chains, which resulted in lower incomes. This was largely due to the absence or unaffordability of necessary production and storage equipment. In addition, local producers had low technical capacity in adhering to the necessary production standards, to ensure high quality storage, packaging, distribution and marketing of their products. These same challenges were also faced by the wine producers in Bolnisi.
As for tourism, the research identified that local businesses providing services for tourists (café/bars, restaurants, family hotels, food facilities) couldn’t fully exploit their potential because of several factors. The first was that the biggest local tourist attraction - the historic neighborhood of Katharinenfeld - lacked the necessary tourism infrastructure and marketing instruments to promote and popularise it. Secondly, the existing tourism service points couldn’t even satisfy existing demand for their services due to lack of know-how of running tourist-oriented businesses.
Developing research-based solutions
· Agro Centre - helping local farmers and winemakers to grow
In a bid to address the challenges identified through the research, in January 2020, the project managers launched the Agro Centre, an establishment run by the Bolnisi Municipality, offering various technologies to farmers and winemakers at affordable prices, free consultations and legal advice for them, and also a marketplace for the produced goods.
The premises for the Agro Centre were built by the Bolnisi Municipality at its own cost from scratch. It’s located on the main road to Armenia, a strategic spot, easily available to the local producers and convenient for travellers to drop by, taste and buy locally-produced products.
The Agro Centre offers local farmers and producers refrigerating, labelling, wrapping, packaging, bottling and filtering services for different agricultural products and wines at affordable prices through the use of modern technology. “In addition, today at the Agro Centre farmers receive consultations and expert services in Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani languages,” commented Bolnisi Municipality Mayor David Sherazadishvili, “which is important for the multiethnic population of the municipality.”
”One of the first things we did was to research Bolnisi’s economic potential. We found that one of the most well-developed fields was winemaking,” said Natalia Kakabadze, the project manager at the Bolnisi grant project. She elaborated that in order to help winemakers, Agro Centre bought equipment that many wine producers couldn’t afford.
The facility has purchased machines that allow winemakers to benefit from all the services needed for making a final product, such as bottling, corking and labelling. As Georgians usually store their wines in a Qvevri, a clay vessel submerged underground for fermentation and aging, the Agro Centre purchased a mobile device, designed to be carried around small wineries. It allows farmers to have their wines extracted from Qvevris at their own wineries, and also filtered, bottled and labeled on the spot.
“Bolnisi wine is considered to be a very high-quality wine, many types of it unique to this territory. There are many less experienced, newcomer winemakers who needed bottling technology. The Agro Centre now has mobile bottling equipment that can be transported to local wineries. Or winemakers can bring their wine for bottling to us. Buyers demand winemakers to have their products bottled. Otherwise, they can’t showcase them on the markets. Because of the services we provide, the value of their products grew significantly,” said Natalia Kakabadze.
Guram Arkhopashvili, the owner of Dzmebis Marani [Brother’s Winery] is one of the beneficiaries of the project. His enterprise has benefited from the bottling, filtration and other services needed for winemaking.
“The foundation of Agro Centre has benefited us so much. Now we no longer have to buy bottling equipment and other accessories, necessary for the production of wine. This service is very cheap, even the cheapest in the world I would say. They provide many other services, such as washing utensils and disinfection,” said Arkhopashvili.
He added that currently 25 wineries use these services, however, there’s a potential to have up to 800 winemakers in Bolnisi.
Besides the technology for winemakers, the Agro Centre also offers various packaging and labelling equipment for other businesses. The facility features vacuum and semi-automatic packaging equipment for vegetables, meat or cheese.
Meri Makharadze, the founder of a cheese-producing enterprise called Disveli, is yet another beneficiary of the Agro Centre. She has also benefited from consultation services that the Agro Centre offers, which she said were very useful.
“I have my own packaging equipment, but it’s not enough for packaging cheese in large quantities. My enterprise is capable of processing up to 3 tons of milk, but currently we are unable to do so due to lockdown because of the coronavirus. I really liked the wrapping equipment that Agro Centre has. It’s really high quality. Of course, we want to expand our production, however at the moment, we cannot do so because of the lockdown’, said Makharadze.
So far, she has received legal advice from the Agro Centre and is willing to learn more about how to work with documents and how to do thorough accounting.
“Despite the fact that the Agro Centre was launched in January 2020 and the following period coincided with the restrictions put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus, the enterprise has already provided service to 861 entrepreneurs. 1,500 litres of wine has been filtered, bottled and labelled so far, and we have held four meetings with winemakers, cheesemakers and meat producers,” said Meri Abramishvili, the Head of the Projects Management Department of Bolnisi Municipality.
· Bolstering Bolnisi’s tourism potential
The municipality offers many attractions to visitors, whether it’s Bolnisi Sioni, the oldest extant church in Georgia from the 5th century, or the remnants of its German heritage. In the 19th century, 95 German colonist families from Swabia founded a colony named Katharinenfeld here. Even today, Bolnisi’s historic neighbourhood carries this name.
In order to popularise this neighbourhood, within the project “Establishing a platform for efficient flow of business activities in Bolnisi”, the Bolnisi Municipality invested in improving the tourism infrastructure of one of the streets of Katharinenfeld (Stephania Street). Sidewalks and the road were laid, and streetlights were installed to make the thoroughfare pedestrian-friendly. Tourist signs were put up, providing information about the neighborhood’s historic past.
“We also designed a marketing strategy for Katharinenfeld, which will help us attract tourists to the municipality,” said Meri Abramishvili. She added that up to 150 workers were hired for the infrastructural works, including modernisation of Katharinenfeld and construction of the Agro Centre.
As a result of the rehabilitation of Katharinenfeld, local residents expressed a willingness to turn their homes into guest houses, open markets and restaurants. And the project is ready to provide them with free consultations and legal advice on how to run their businesses.
“One of the main achievements of this project is how the trust of local residents and businesses grew towards the Municipality. They saw that the local government is interested in the needs of local entrepreneurs and supports them in their work,” Abramishvili said.
The Project team and municipal officials believe now that tourism infrastructure has been significantly improved, and locally-produced wines and agricultural products have been bolstered, Bolnisi is ready to receive many more tourists. It became obvious that the municipality has many things to offer visitors, and it’s not limited to either wines or historical monuments. Its rich historical-cultural heritage, combined with authentic agricultural products and unique local wines are yet to be rediscovered by tourists.
· Bolnisi during and after the lockdown caused by COVID-19
It’s worth noting that the implementation of the Project activities has been significantly hindered by the COVID-19 crisis. For almost 2 months, the Bolnisi municipality was completely locked down and isolated from the rest of the country due to a strong local outbreak of the disease.
Now, with the steady improvement of the epidemiological situation in Georgia, local economic activity is coming back to life, and the Agro Centre has re-opened its doors to clients.
To alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the local producers, in July 2020 the Agro Centre launched a new campaign offering local winemakers to filter, bottle and label 10 bottles of each type of wine for free.
The Project Team is catching up on the project implementation plan, and working hard in order to make Bolnisi ready for domestic and international tourists when the borders open up. It will also serve as an example and a source of relevant expertise to other Georgian municipalities with similar economic priorities.
“Partnership with international organisations is especially important for Bolnisi Municipality. Thanks to the EU and Mayors for Economic Growth Initiative, we are the only municipality in Georgia to support local farmers and small and medium entrepreneurs in their production via the Agro Centre,” Mayor David Sherazadishvili said.