Experience of CSOs in Kvemo Kartli
We have interviewed the Chairman of the Board of the Georgian Association of Educational Initiatives (SIQA) Giorgi Tvaliashvili about the problems and supporting factors of NGOs operating in Kvemo Kartli.
Interviewed by Mariam Patatishvili
As the NGO operating in the Kvemo Kartli Region, how would you assess the involvement of organizations functioning in this region in the current civil society development processes? How active are the regional organizations today?
Giorgi Tvaliashvili – I believe Kvemo Kartli is not distinguished by large degree of activity at this stage unfortunately. Over the years that the development of civil society is discussed and NGOs operate actively in various regions, Kvemo Kartli is one of the passive regions. For instance, three-four strong organizations may be identified in Rustavi, which implement number of projects. Majority of organizations is set up for some concrete project and they usually terminate activities upon completion of these projects.
What can be the reason behind this? What is the problem?
Giorgi Tvaliashvili – Closeness to Tbilisi is good on one hand, but bad on the other. It is difficult to struggle with the vast geographic area. The fact that Kvemo Kartli is a rather huge region of geographically difficult location may be another reason. This may as well complicate the activities to a certain extent.
What are the key areas that the regional NGOs work on? Do the implemented projects solve the existing problems in reality? Which sector should be activated in the region?
Giorgi Tvaliashvili – Because Kvemo Kartli is an ethnically diverse region, most NGOs work with the ethnic minorities, however, there are number of organizations working on education, such as the development of entrepreneurial competences, business skills, information education. It would be great to develop democracy-oriented work in the region, which will subsequently result in the development of the civil society and have impact on the third sector, as well as on the NGO development, which returns back to the society positively, like a boomerang.
What are the main problems that the regional CSOs face during the project implementation process? Are these obstacles different by the fields of operation?
Giorgi Tvaliashvili – Our experience demonstrates that one of the most acute problems is that there is no communication among the organizations, as well as the donors and the organizations. To a certain extent, the activities often overlap, and one organization does what the other one is doing. This may be because they are not aware of each other's activities, or they are aware but it is easy to follow the path of others.
Are the NGOs experienced in cooperating with the local self-government? Do they provide support?
Giorgi Tvaliashvili – NGOs are motivated to do something, and the self-government also expresses the desire. Yet, we have not witnessed full cooperation. There are more activities in the youth sector as more initiatives are coming from the youngsters. The school-based civic education clubs functioning over almost entire Kvemo Kartli actively cooperate with the self-government. This can also be attributed to the NGO sector, as the clubs are set up within the project framework. The project provides for the clubs' cooperation with the self-government and the solution of existing problems through joint partnership. Further, now is the transitional environment and there is no sustainability. Implementation of projects is under question.
Does the civil sector in regions experience the problem of receiving funding? Do the business representatives take interest in the projects implemented by the CSOs?
Giorgi Tvaliashvili – There is a joint, partnership-based cooperation with several companies. Business has the funding role and it aims as to promote the activity and contribute to the civil development, as well as to popularize the business. SIQA has a quite wide experience in this respect. As for fund-raising, the problem in general exists. Many grant announcements do not cover KvemoKartli, and there are extremely few especially in case of Rustavi. Often the remote regions are a priority and for some reason KvemoKartli is paid less attention.
How actively are the residents of the regions involved in the civil-public activities? What is the level of awareness among the population?
Giorgi Tvaliashvili – Our organization is very experienced in this regard. When from years to years the organization does not have any concrete donor, it can be said that the organization works under the model similar to a social enterprise. The organization pursues economic activities and the revenues generated from such activities are spent on the sustainability and strengthening of the organization. The population is interested in the product that the organization offers as trainings or other services. This is a kind of contribution for strengthening the organization.
As for the level of awareness, in respect of organizations on the 10-point scale I would evaluate the level of the population's awareness by 6-7 points. It is not high but I would say it is not low either.
How do the citizens perceive the function of NGOs and do the regional NGOs take into account the interests and problems of the citizens to the full extent?
Giorgi Tvaliashvili – Solution of social problems in the region is the top priority, but the NGOs operating in Kvemo Kartli are rather passive. Very few organizations are focused on social problems. The population perceives NGOs mainly as the service-providers and assistants. They address them to receive and use the information, knowledge and service about issues of interest to them.