Displaced Georgians rebuilding livelihoods with UNDP assistance

12 Oct 2009

Some 30,000 Georgians remain displaced more than one year after a five-day armed conflict between Russia and Georgia in August, 2008. UNDP is leading the way in working with the Georgia Government to provide long-term crisis recovery efforts that focus not just on providing people with basic necessities, but on giving them the livelihoods and the means to rebuild a better life for them and their families.

In the central region of Shida Kartli, where most of the displaced fled to, UNDP has worked to rebuild houses, schools and drinking water infrastructure in addition to disbursing micro-loans to help people start farming or launch start-up businesses.

“We also do vocational training in areas where there are jobs, like construction, agriculture and food processing,” said Bo Asplud, UNDP’s Resident Representative in Georgia. “This will help people to find long-term employment and benefit from the development of Georgia.”

Gocha Petriashvili was an agronomist in Nuli, a small village close to Tskhinvali, a city that received heavy bombing during the 2008 conflict. Petriashvili and his family had to flee after his village was set on fire. Now, with his wife and three children, he lives in a settlement far away from home. With a micro-loan of EURO 1,000 received from UNDP, Petriashvili plans to become a farmer and grow wheat.

“There is nothing left back there, all our houses were destroyed,” he said. “We have to start a new life here and hope that one day we can go back home.

To provide skills to those left jobless by the conflict, UNDP works with the local university in Gori to set up vocational training in the most in-demand professions. More than 300 people received training in the six months immediately following the conflict, with another 500 set to finish next year. Another 90 displaced families have created orchards after receiving fruit saplings.

Shota Sherazadishvili is a farmer from Kheiti, a small village also on the outskirts of Tskhinvali. After the war broke out, he sent his wife and four daughters to safety, but stayed behind to look after his house and seven cows. He too had to flee, however, once the air shelling began. Now, he lives in the Teliani settlement and had started working a plot of land he received through the UNDP programme.

“We are farmers and this is what we are good at,” Sherazadishvili said. “You can make your life if you work hard and never give up. I hope to go back one day to rebuild what has been destroyed. But for the time being, we will cope with this small house and the piece of land we have here.”