“My Georgia, country I care for – good practices of the Participatory Budget – for successful  Georgia”

Zugdidi

“We have carried out a full-fledged election campaign. There are 1 300 families living in our neighborhood and we went to almost every house, persuading them to support us. “Finally, 1 400 people came to the polling stations, and we won,” – 75-year-old Tamaz Charkviani tells us.

This story you are reading now has nothing to do with either parliamentary or local elections. The residents of Zugdidi decided to arrange a drainage canal through elections.

When it rained, the area looked like a disaster zone. The whole area was flooded. The problem hasn’t been solved for years. With a pile of documents and statements in his bag , Tamaz vainly walked from one government office to another.

Tamaz Charkviani

“At that time I met Ketevan Esartia,” – continues his story Tamaz Charkviani.

“The problem is really serious, maybe you should draw up a project and solve this problem with the help of the “Participatory Budget”, – Esartia suggested to Tamaz Charkviani.

“Participatory Budget”, “Project Development”, “Broad Public Participation” were unfamiliar and incomprehensible terms. “Why should I go out and do projects when the local government gets paid to solve these issues?”

“Through our activity and involvement we must convince the government that this problem can be solved.” And a new way of arranging the drainage system also appeared.

Keti Esartia is a coordinator of the “Participatory Budget” in Zugdidi. He underwent special training at the “Academy of Participation” established by the Solidarity Fund PL in Georgia. The main task of the Fund is to help local government and the citizens to cooperate and strengthen mutual trust, to maximize the involvement of citizens in solving problems and, as a result, help build sustainable institutions. In Zugdidi municipality, the Solidarity Fund PL in Georgia was provided a fertile ground for the development of democratic mechanisms. The initiative to form the  participatory budget here belongs  to David Gakharia, Chairman of the Financial-Budgetary and Audit Commission of the City  Sakrebulo, who was supported by the Mayor of the municipality, Giorgi Shengelia, and thus the “Participatory Budget” was first introduced in the municipality in 2019.

The “Participatory Budget” is part of the local budget. This tool was introduced with the help of the Fund. Projects supported by the majority of the citizens receive funding from the “Participatory Budget”.

Ketevan Esartia in the center. Discussion of the Participatory Budget

And here Tamaz Charkviani faced a new challenge. “We coordinated my every step with the Solidarity Fund PL in Georgia, we launched an information campaign, we learned how to write a project… The Fund fully supported us in this, and the result is obvious. We won and 160 000 GEL will solve the problem that has existed for decades. By the end of 2020, the work will be completed,” – Charkviani proudly tells us.

Drainage canal. Zugdidi, Samegrelo

Park on Queen Tamar Street

Many buildings, garages and no parks… Such a picture is a problem for the whole of Georgia, not just Zugdidi, however, initiative is contagious, especially a good initiative. It really does exist in the “Participatory Budget”.

We are in so called “Paper Plant Settlement”. “There are 21 children with disabilities in this school, so where you see that beautiful park, there were dysfunctional garages,” – tells us Salome Patsatsia, the majoritarian deputy of Enguri district.

Park. Zugdidi, Samegrelo

“On the initiative of the citizens living here, which brought together representatives of the non-governmental sector and local government, useless garages and disorganized infrastructure were changed”.

“Thanks to the “Participatory Budget”, a swing for people with disabilities has appeared in Zugdidi”, – Salome Patsatsia tells us energetically and wants to put the whole thing into one sentence.

Park. Zugdidi, Samegrelo

“You see beautifully arranged gazebo in the park, where in rainy or snowy weather, people can relax, outdoor lighting makes this place even more beautiful,” – says Patsatsia.

Improvement of the yard

Zugdidi residents are preparing for the construction of a new park and, most importantly, they are designing the project themselves, the local population is involved in the process from the beginning to the end. The author of the idea is Dali Dzigua, the chairman of the community, who is supported by the whole neighborhood.

“We, the neighbors, have gathered, many people live here, let’s count,” – Dali continues: there are three buildings and at least 50 people live in each building, there is an IDP settlement, somewhat 50 meters away. Now the citizens decide where to construct the attractions for children – slides , swings, fitness simulators and treadmills. We will set up benches for pensioners, we want to arrange a special place for playing chess.”

Along with the Solidarity Fund PL in Georgia, the local people are actively involved in drafting the project.

“We even choose the colors. At the first stage, we managed to include the project in the greenery program. We planted maples, evergreen oaks, camellias. In winter, we wrapped the trees ourselves together with our neighbors. This yard will be a masterpiece, the real “pièce de résistance” of Zugdidi,” – Dali hopes.

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