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PIRDP – Decentralization and initiatives that improve the living conditions of the rural population

EU support to Regional Development

Considering the fact that the regions of Georgia are not yet economically strong, a big number of people leave their homes in rural areas and move to the cities. The reason is simple – the cities offer more opportunities.

The inequality between cities and villages is also evidenced by the fact that the level of poverty in the regions is twice as high as in cities. This is why young people often leave their villages in the hope of finding better jobs. However, their resources can be kept and used in the regions if an adequate policy is in place. To achieve this, new realistic opportunities should be created and the quality or standards of life should be improved in the regions.

This is the goal of the European Union, which, in partnership with the Government of Georgia, is financing the Pilot Integrated Regional Development Programme (PIRDP) in four target regions (Kakheti, Imereti, Guria, Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti) of Georgia. The program has a quite ambitious goal – to alleviate poverty in the regions and, as a result, reduce outmigration. PIRDP is based on the best European experience, which shows that projects deliver better results if local people are involved in their implementation. Under the democratic model citizens address to municipalities and propose initiatives – they have better knowledge of the needs of their respective regions and the ways of how to overcome challenges.

„The European Union cares about Georgia’s regions. We have been supporting the Government for many years to develop an effective regional development approach, and the Pilot Integrated Regional Development Programme (PIRDP) is the result of these efforts. Our goal is to encourage people to stay in the regions, as well as to open small and medium sized enterprises to make the regions of Georgia even more attractive”, – says Sigrid Brettel, Head of the Projects Department of the EU Delegation in Georgia.

PIRDP is based on bottom-up, decentralised approach – project ideas developed by municipalities should be approved by the Councils of respective municipalities before submitting to regional administrations. It is also important that the decision-making process moves from Tbilisi to the regional level and the municipalities have to compete with each other for obtaining funds for the implementation of the best ideas, which greatly contributes to the capacity development at the municipal level.

„Most importantly, the projects are directly selected by the municipalities and are aimed at the social and economic development of the local population as well as business incentives,” – says Mzia Giorgobiani, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia.

Funding provided under the program does not cover any specific area. The assistance has an integrated character and the implementation of one specific project provides incentives for other projects and initiatives. As a result, step by step, a continuous chain of development is created, where main beneficiary is the local population.

The program enables municipalities to implement important projects in areas such as: supporting small and medium sized businesses, improving basic infrastructure and municipal services, strengthening human capital and educational institutions, improving the efficiency of state institutions, etc. The combination of these components and initiatives leads to economic empowerment, as a result of which  investments in the regions will increase, new jobs will be created, access to services will be improved, and people will not be forced to leave their houses.

The road to the Manavi Fortress in Sagarejo municipality, which has been rehabilitated within the framework of the project is a good examples.  Along with its historical importance the Manavi Fortress has a big touristic potential. The newly rehabilitated road makes the Manavi Fortress and adjacent areas easily accessible for local and international tourists, which opens new opportunities to local business engaged in sales of traditional food and wine. There are many such examples in other municipalities too.

”The PIRDP is especially important programme for our municipalities. The programme enables us to financially strengthen our institutions and implement new programmes. We  develop our human capital and plan the integrated development of our municipalities for the wellbeing of our citizens,” saysIoseb Khakhaleishvili, Mayor of Kutaisi.

Two-years Pilot Integrated Regional Development Programme (PIRDP) is based on the EU regional development policy. It aims to promote balanced and sustainable socio-economic development through integrated territorial development initiatives.  PIRDP has a budget of 220 million GEL, of which 186 million GEL are provided by the EU. 

The programme is managed by the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia (MRDI). The first set of grants with a total financial envelope 5 million GEL were awarded to 11 municipalities: Vani, Sachkhere, Tkibuli, Samtredia, Baghdati, Tsageri, Sagarejo, Telavi, Akhmeta, Ozurgeti and Chokhatauri in July 2020. 64 projects with 61 million GEL total cost were funded in 2021. In 2022 additional projects with a total cost of more 100 million GEL will be financed. In addition, grants worth 40 million GEL are planned to be awarded to support micro, small and medium sized enterprises and innovations.