27 Feb 2014
Final Stage of the Stage II Project
Two and half years ago, CARD foundation together with its Georgian partners CARE International in the Caucasus and CiDA launched a project “Poverty Reduction and Confidence-building in Border Areas of Georgia and Armenia by Strengthening Civil Societies in Sustainable Rural Development” (STAGE II). After planned time of its implementation the project is successfully completed end of October 2011.
The project aimed at supporting sustainable rural development in border areas of Georgia and Armenia through the strengthening of civil society and enhancing the partnership between civil institutions and local government, as well as offering platforms for confidence building between ethnic Armenians and Georgians and increased cross-border cooperation. The project covered the regions of Shirak, Lori and Tavush in Armenia and Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli in Georgia. The target groups of the project were ten Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Local Governments (LGs) from the aforementioned areas, who would contribute to the development of the local rural communities.
In the framework of the project various and diverse activities have been organized contributing to the aim of the project. Among them, special attention was paid to the organizational capacity building, trainings and workshops conducted both for the CSO and LG representatives. Joint conferences, study tours and agricultural/ cultural fairs were organized both in Armenia and Georgia bringing together target groups, representatives from the central and regional government, as well as international and national organizations. All the discussions held during those meetings aimed at highlighting the potentials existing and issues challenging the cross-border cooperation between the two countries, the non-profit and business sector, as well as the government.
Moreover, a research was conducted by hired Armenian and Georgian experts to study the Free Trade Agreement between Armenia and Georgia, the application and implication of the agreement among the farmers and business sector, highlights on the situation in the rural bordering areas, hindering factors and opportunities for local development. This document served as a base to further initiate advocacy campaign on the procedures of crossing the Armenian-Georgian border. The document is availed for all stakeholders and interested people in general.
As a final step, closing ceremony of the STAGE II project, a conference was organized in Tbilisi, Georgia in October 2011. Opening speeches, special remarks and presentations were the key components of the conference. Special focus was given to the small grants implemented in both countries. In Armenia three projects were effectively carried out in five rural communities. The “Shirak Competitiveness Center” established a “Community Center” in Jrapi village, which serves as meeting venue and training center for the community members. In Noyemberyan, the main irrigation channel was rehabilitated by Yerevak NGO resulting to reviving the vineyards and rich harvest this year. “Spitak-Farmer Association”, the other target CSO, has established bio-humus bases in Spitak, Lernants and Saramej communities in order to promote organic farming in the above mentioned communities with a hope to expand later to other communities as well. Women group from Lernantsk and Saramej are engaged in this project giving additional value to this specific project.
Besides the small grants implemented by the Armenian target CSOs a joint project was carried out also by an Armenian and Georgian organizations in Georgia. The project aimed at bringing together Armenian and Georgian children to spend some time together play games and with it build cooperation and friendship in the bordering areas. The children engaged in the project were very happy to be given an opportunity to get to know neighboring country people and even make friendship among them. When leaving the camp children expressed their gratitude and hope to get together coming year as well.
In summary, the STAGE II project had greater impact on the CSOs, LGs and communities involved in the project. All the activities carried out had positive impacts both in terms of relationship between the target groups and also their respective communities: first of all, the trainings for the target LGs and later also for the target CSOs contributed to professional knowledge development among the participants. Further, cooperation has been established and strengthened between the local CSO and local government. The target CSOs on both sides of the border discussed and implemented joint projects and activities.
But above all, the project team has worked in a professional and friendly environment which comes to prove once again, that be there an interest, will, commitment, and wish to work jointly, the results will be even greater than expected. Saying all above, the project served its main purpose – “contributed to strengthening civil society institutions and local authorities and increased cross-border cooperation for sustainable rural development”.
“Poverty Reduction and Confidence-building in Border Areas of Georgia and Armenia by Strengthening Civil Societies in Sustainable Rural Development” (STAGE II) Project is financed by the Austrian Development Cooperation and Cooperation with Eastern Europe (ADC) (for more information please visit: www.mfa.at/adc, www.ada.gv.at), implemented by CARE Osterreich and CARE International in the Caucasus, along with the partner organizations – Civil Development Agency (CiDA) in Georgia and Center for Agribusiness and Rural Development (CARD) in Armenia.