Environment and economy at the centre of development assistance in the Ajara Autonomous Republic

Switzerland partners with UNDP to protect people from floods and promote vocational education and training

March 15, 2022

Photo: Mamuka Chkhikvadze/UNDP

Representatives of the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency (SDC) and the United National Development Programme (UNDP) visited the Ajara Autonomous Republic on 14 March to see the progress of the ongoing initiatives aimed at reducing risks of climate-induced disasters and promoting modern vocation education and training.

The delegation included Barbara Jäggi, Deputy Head of the SDC Division for Eurasia; Jonathan Rezzonico, SDC Regional Advisor for Environment and Climate Change; Dr. Danielle Meuwly, Regional Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus, Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia; and Anna Chernyshova, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Georgia.

In the Kobuleti Municipality, SDC and UNDP representatives visited a construction site on Achkva river, where the works are ongoing to protect over 8,000 residents from floods. The rehabilitation of the 1,929-meter artificial channel between Achkva and Kintrishi rivers and the construction of a spillway serves to divert a river flow during floods and protect the surrounding settlements and agriculture plots. The construction works will be completed in spring 2023.

SDC and UNDP also assisted to develop multi-hazard maps and risk profiles for seven climate-induced hazards, including avalanche, drought, flood, hailstorm, landslide, mudflow and windstorm. This information will inform climate-sensitive policies and disaster risk reduction measures in Ajara and other regions of Georgia.

The visit continued at the ‘Akhali Talgha’ (New Wave) college which offers over 50 vocational education programmes to up to 2,000 students. UNDP and Switzerland help improve the college management, establish a quality assurance system, train teachers and staff, and introduce new training courses tailored to the local labour market needs. In 2021, four new educational programmes in wood processing, cooking and cattle health were launched at the Kobuleti and Khulo branches.

As the pandemic pushed the educational process out of the classrooms, UNDP and SDC support extended to ensuring a safe environment for students and teachers, introducing COVID safety measures and promoting online education tools.

“The needs of people and the planet are at the core of our assistance to Georgia. We help build an inclusive, safe and green environment where people can learn, work, build their lives and work together for sustainable and climate-smart development,” said UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Georgia Anna Chernyshova.

The SDC and UNDP assistance to the Ajara Autonomous Republic draws on the resources provided by two robust nationwide programmes – the SDC-funded US$7.1 million initiative for vocational education and training and the US$78 million climate resilience programme funded by the Green Climate Fund and the governments of Georgia, Sweden and Switzerland.

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