On 20 December, 7 Letters of Agreement were signed with the mayors of Senaki, Martvili, Zugdidi, Tsalenjikha, Poti, Lanchkhuti and Chokhatauri granting direct financial support for their local initiatives. The signing ceremony was attended by the Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, Mzia Giorgobiani, Head of UNDP Georgia, Louisa Vinton, Deputy Regional Director of Cooperation, Werner Thut and Programme Manager of the Austrian Development Agency, Vakhtang Mshvidobadze.
“Thriving municipalities are a foundation for every well-performing modern state. They are the first reference point for and home of every citizen. There is no stable democracy without a stable political life at municipal level and the citizens who are satisfied with their local authorities,” Deputy Regional Director of Cooperation Werner Thut noted in his address.
In this vein, the project “Fostering Regional and Local Development in Georgia” (FRLD) was launched in 2012 and continued in 2017 to further strengthen the capacities of the municipalities and improve their services delivered for better economic development and employment generation by local population. In its 2nd phase, the project piloted a number of the Local Economic Development (LED) initiatives by the target municipalities to stimulate employment and attract investments by bringing together the public and private stakeholders.. Joint municipal and private sector projects are envisaged to target the areas such as tourism, agriculture, trade facilitation, etc.
“The execution of the seven projects will not allow to address all challenges related to local economic development – not even in the 7 municipalities. But they are an important source for lessons learnt, how to set up this kind of interventions at a much broader scale,” Mr. Werner Thut added.
A total of 7 projects were selected from a pool of 24 proposals submitted by 21 municipalities. The selection committee comprised of the representatives of the Swiss Cooperation Office, Austrian Development Agency, the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure and UNDP jointly selected 7 projects based on the predetermined criteria.
The FRLD project is co-funded by the SDC and ADA, and implemented by UNDP.