Photo: David Khizanishvili/UNDP

Representatives of Kazbegi Local Action Group and the Government of  Georgia gathered in Stepantsminda on 2 and 3 June 2018 to discuss rural development priorities and the way forward.

The meeting was organised by the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, supported by the European Union (EU) in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and People in Need Mission in Georgia (PiN).  

The event in Stepantsminda is the second in a series of public discussions in the regions. The First Deputy Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, Nodar Kereselidze and representatives of relevant structural units of the Ministry informed members of Kazbegi Local Action Group (LAG) about the country’s progress in introducing and implementing the new concept of rural development in Georgia and received their valuable feedback. Kazbegi LAG is established with the support of EU in the framework of Rural Development Project implemented by PiN Georgia within the II phase of ENPARD programme. It is one of the eight LAGs created with EU support in several municipalities in Georgia.

The main topics of the meeting referred to the state programmes and initiatives designed to promote rural development through the diversification of local economies, improvement of social and public services, increase of employment and the sustainable use of natural resources.

“Cooperation with Local Action Groups is one of the important factors for the successful implementation of the 2018-2020 action plan for rural development and preparation for the next strategy. Rural areas face unique challenges as well as unique opportunities. Local Action Groups create long-term legacy of vibrant and strong rural communities which contribute fully to the improvement of social and economic conditions of rural population,” said Nodar Kereselidze, First Deputy Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia.

At the meeting, participants discussed economic, environmental and social challenges referenced in the National Rural Development Strategy 2017-2020 and their relevance to the context of Kazbegi municipality. Particular attention was provided to the support required for the environment protection, promotion of sustainable rural tourism in Kazbegi and the role that community activists, government and non-government entities need to play to improve the standard of living and socio-economic situation in Kazbegi based on the priorities and objectives of the Kazbegi Development Strategy 2016-2020 developed by LAG Kazbegi.

In the coming months, the National Rural Development Action Plan 2018-2020 will also be discussed with Local Action Groups of Kakheti, Samtskhe-Javakheti and the Autonomous Republic of Ajara through public meetings organised by the Government of Georgia with assistance from the European Union (EU) and UNDP.  

The implementation of the National Rural Development Strategy and Action Plan is supported by the European Union (EU) in partnership with UNDP through the EU funded ENPARD programme. Aiming to reduce rural poverty in Georgia, ENPARD has been implemented since 2013, with a total budget of EUR 179.5 million. Its first phase focused on developing the national agriculture potential, while the second and third phases focus on creating economic opportunities for rural population that go beyond agricultural activities. More information on ENPARD is available at: www.enpard.ge.

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