Georgia - Strengthening Regional and Local Governance in Georgia’s region of Kvemo Kartli
Primary thematic focus: Sub-national capacity development: local solutions, national strengths
In a Nutshell:
Seven municipalities in Kvemo Kartli region of Georgia have acquired capacities to independently plan, organize and monitor priority activities. Effective channels of communication, coordination and accountability with public have been established. This resulted from UNDP’s effective investment in the assessment of capacity gaps and targeted capacity development assistance.
Kvemo Kartli is one of the poor regions in Georgia, comprising of 7 municipalities, with a total population of about 500,000. Common to the entire country, it also confronts numerous challenges to its harmonious development, with capacity deficit at regional and local governance levels being one of the key problems. It is common for 70 % of elected officials to have no experience in governance, after each election. Most capable administrative staff regularly seek higher-paid opportunities in the capital, leaving the least competent personnel in offices. Limited understanding of good governance prevents local authorities to appreciate communication, accountability and responsibility toward their citizens. Even when the political will exists, the lack of qualified staff and inefficient organizational structures hinder effective implementation of local competencies. As a result, local residents are usually deprived of effective community services and have rather limited prospects for civic participation.
In Kvemo Kartli region, limited integration of large segments of minority population, mountainous landscape and poor infrastructure adds to the problems. Admittedly, the national development priorities have, also, taken only a marginal interest in local capacity development.
Against this background, UNDP Georgia initiated local Capacity Development project, with expectation to achieve some relief in what was seen as a governance deficit at the sub-national level. The corporate CD methodology has been taken as a guiding document with proper adaptation for Georgia’s context. Building consensus, local ownership and interest constituted preparatory, yet critical stage of the project. Through effective advocacy UNDP ensured early involvement and lasting commitment for quite resource-consuming exercises from local stakeholders. Only after the broad support has been earned, UNDP moved to assessment phase. The locally adapted assessment methodology has produced first ever Capacity Assessment for Georgian municipalities. Broadly recognized, but never formally outlined problems have acquired a structured nature and were distributed into 4 categories (HR, organizational, accountability and strategy/planning), for each of the three levels (enabling environment, institutional, individual). The next stage included elaboration of response for each capacity gap, taking into account the existing resources/constraints. Another round of discussions produced a comprehensive capacity development agenda for local municipalities with short, medium and long-term actions per each level and issue.
The local authorities clearly expected UNDP to lead implementation of the priority CD actions. UNDP, however, aimed at ensuring the municipal leadership in all actions. Thereby, UNDP has complemented the municipal efforts with short-term expertise and sponsored targeted training and events, while the leadership at planning and organizing rested with the municipalities. This ensured the gradual enhancement of local implementation capacities by learning-by-doing principle and achievement of sustainable results including municipal development plans, functional analysis of administrations or communication strategies. UNDP’s CD effort culminated into opening opportunities to municipalities to compete for limited finances to implement activities from CD strategy. Key in this approach was a requirement that full management, including financial, would rest with the beneficiary. Six out of seven municipalities have successfully met the competition requirements and received small grants (max. $30,000). It was impressive to observe that ALL municipalities have diligently and accurately met commitments, proving that UNDP efforts yielded effective results.
Results achieved in one Georgian region have a nation-wide value, since they are easily replicable, without drawing into a new stage of comprehensive assessment. Indeed most of the observed problems are common nation-wide. Therefore, with support from the Ministry of Regional Development, the CD Strategy for Kvemo Kartli region can be applied to other locations with minor adjustments. See more at: here
Results and Critical Factors:
Seven municipalities in the Kvemo Kartli region produced first ever Municipal Development Plans in 2009. In the Post-Soviet country the political participation pioneered through the Municipal Development planning has provided a real breakthrough in minds of both-local authorities and population. Mutual confidence has been nurtured and an understanding has been gained regarding roles and responsibilities of both parties. Consequently, six out of seven municipalities had independently taken leadership to implement the solutions outlined in their development documents. With small financial assistance, these municipalities have successfully implemented good-governance activities, such as establishing citizen service bureaus, introducing citizen report cards, or organizing addressing system. Signifying their commitment, all municipalities first time ever contributed financial resources from their scarce local budgets, along with UNDP’s co-financing.
Most importantly, during this process, municipal authorities have quit the role of passive beneficiaries and turned into active decision-makers and implementers. As a result, starting from 2010, citizens in Rustavi, Marneuli and Dmanisi enjoy the new service bureaus, with trained staff and modern infrastructure. Thus, instead of roaming in endless corridors of municipal administration in search of an answer and being redirected from one office to another, that has usually been the case before, approximately 250 citizens daily will get informed responses from a single window. Access to the information for the elderly and disabled has also been significantly eased, since the reception hall is organized at the entrance of the building. Citizens in Bolnisi city have acquired proper addresses in their passports, replacing a vague statement – “unaddressed”. The fundamental right of political participation has been restored for these people. They have become able to participate in elections, contribute to budgetary discussions or request public information. This will also bear a clear positive ramification on an everyday routine such as receiving postal parcels or calling for an emergency support. In sum, the UNDP CD support has brought real changes in minds and behavior at local level, for authorities and for communities. Authorities internalize their obligations and accountability, while citizens take opportunity of their rights. This combination ensures sustainable nature of this achievement.
Name of Primary Contact Person: Natia Natsvlishvili
Title of Primary Contact Person: Governance Team Leader, UNDP Georgia