Sustainable Agriculture in the Republic of Georgia
The beautiful Republic of Georgia is nestled in the picturesque Caucasus region between Russia in the north and Turkey in the south.

Much of the land between the sea and the peaks is green and fertile. Here, sustainable agriculture in the Republic of Georgia thrives.

In 2015, the Government of the Republic of Georgia began a push to improve its agricultural production for both economic and environmental benefit. The country’s agriculture strategy also aims to reduce Georgia’s dependence on grain imports, one of the country’s top import products.

The importance of agriculture in Georgian history, specifically winemaking, stretches back over 8,000 years. Wine has been and continues to be one of the most important aspects of Georgian agriculture.

The Strategy

The strategy has the vision to create an environment that will increase competitiveness in agro-food sector, promote stable growth of high-quality agricultural production, ensure food safety and security and eliminate rural poverty through sustainable development of agriculture and rural areas.

Each section outlines plans to implement everything from better irrigation, saving water and reducing water pollution, to improved animal husbandry.

On top of embracing modern techniques, they outline improving both industrial agricultural techniques and educating and helping smaller rural farms embrace these techniques.

The most important steps in the strategy from an economic standpoint are not just introducing techniques that will benefit the farmers’ crop yields while lowering their total overhead cost but the government’s idea to help bring crops to market within the country and for export.

The FAO and EU Help

The development of sustainable agriculture in the Republic of Georgia is not a solo mission.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), along with the European Union is partnering with the Republic of Georgia to bring its dream to fruition.

The European Union is helping the Georgian government by providing both money and expertise. The FAO has been working with the Republic of Georgia on promoting and implementing programs aimed at increasing food security since 1995.

From 2013 to 2015 the sustainable agriculture in the Republic of Georgia was spearheaded by a joint FAO and Georgian government venture. FAO assistance in Georgia has mainly focused on technical development and the livestock industry.

Wine Industry

It is nearly impossible not to talk about the connection between wine and Georgian agriculture.

Georgia and the surrounding area has been continuously producing wine for over 8,000 years. Grapes are one of the most produced agricultural products in Georgia and wine is one of the most produced industrial products. The country is known as the first wine-making region in the world.

While the wine exports do not hit the numbers that more notable wine countries like Italy, France, or Spain do, it should not go unnoted.

Georgian wine is beginning to gain more and more international recognition. This has the potential to grow the export industry surrounding wine and increase tourism of the country, both potentially big economic benefits.

Sustainable agriculture in the Republic of Georgia has been and always will be an uphill battle. Russian pressure from the North has historically put pressure on the region. Only eight years ago, the two nations were at war.

Georgia is pulling itself up by its boots straps and beginning to shake off the dust of the Soviet Union. The country is forging its own future from the ground up.

– Nicholas Anthony DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Georgia
Rising out of years of economic stagnation, Georgia finds itself in a period of transition. Despite enduring the 2008 conflict with Russia and bearing the collateral damage of the Crimean war, the economic impacts of which are still felt, life in is improving. This list of top 10 facts about living conditions in Georgia examines how.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Georgia

  1. Georgia has expanded economic ties with the European Union. As of 2014, Georgia signed two important economic treaties with the EU, an Association Agreement as well as a separate Free Trade Agreement. Now enabling citizens to travel more freely, and opened the EU market to Georgian businesses.
  2. The country is a regional leader in anti-corruption. Corruption incentivizes shady dealings, dangerous products and mistrust – ultimately leading to poverty. Both the World Bank and U.S. State Department recognize Georgia’s role as an anti-corruption leader, citing a long-standing commitment to reform and several glowing reports.
  3. Poverty is decreasing. The percentage of Georgians living below the national standard for poverty has declined considerably: 37.3 percent in 2010 to 21.9 percent in 2017.
  4. There is moderate inequality. With a GINI coefficient of 36.5, Georgia has greater inequality than most of its neighbors: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine. Despite this, the share of national income earned by the poorest fifth of society has increased over time.
  5. Students are returning to complete secondary education. In the early 2000s Georgia had a high rate of non-enrollment in secondary education. More than one in five students would stop attending school after age 15. Now secondary schools have a 104 percent enrollment rate, meaning that many former students have decided to finish their education.
  6. Access to clean drinking water is common. For many years a significant number of Georgians (11 to 15 percent) lacked modern drinking water facilities. In 2015 Global nutrition reported that virtually 100 percent of citizens had proper access to drinking water with the vast majority receiving it via indoor plumbing.
  7. Obesity affects more people than starvation. According to a 2015 Global Nutrition report, more than half of all Georgians are overweight and one in five are obese. With undernourishment in decline, heart disease and similar problems are likely to be the next challenge.
  8. Life expectancy is increasing. Life expectancy at birth has been above 70 years old since the 1990s. A Georgian born today can now expect to reach age 74, living a fully active lifestyle well into their sixties.
  9. The 2008 Russian conflict has had a lasting impact. During the conflict, 130,000 Georgians became internal refugees displaced from the Abkhazia, Sidha Kartli and South Ossetia regions. While some have returned home, Action Against Hunger reports that the number of internally displaced persons has only gotten worse over time.
  10. Bugs are threatening crop harvests. For the past three years, the Abkhazia region has been struggling with an insect outbreak. In 2017, almost three-quarters of walnut farms had some of their germinating plants eaten before they were ready for sale. Russia even imposed a six-day import ban on Abkhazia to keep the bugs from spreading.

Despite setbacks in the past, Georgians are working hard to better their lives. Their efforts have begun to show in cities, schools, and fields as Georgia prospers as a strong, independent nation.

– John Glade
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Georgia
The country of Georgia is on the eastern end of the Black Sea, right in between Turkey and Russia. It is an underexplored nation for some, but it is known for its beautiful scenery as well as its delicious wine. Poverty in Georgia has decreased in recent years, but the country is still affected by economic and social factors that have led to most of its population living below the poverty line. Here are the top 10 facts about poverty in Georgia.

List of Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Georgia

  1. While poverty decreased in 2014 for the fourth consecutive year, according to the World Bank, it still affects one-third of Georgia’s population.
  2. According to the World Bank, the overall population living in poverty in Georgia is 32 percent. Out of which, 28 percent are children. The good news is that people suffering from poverty in Georgia usually get out of it in less than a year.
  3. Unemployment remains one of the biggest challenges in the country, according to UNDP. The unemployment rate has increased to 12 percent, and 68 percent of the population consider themselves unemployed.
  4. The top three causes of death in the country are stroke, heart disease and cancer according to the CDC. Tuberculosis and other infectious diseases are other major health problems affecting the country. In the last few years, the number of HIV/AIDS cases and deaths have decreased significantly, according to the WHO.
  5. Since the fall of the USSR, Georgia’s standard of living has decreased dramatically because it lost its cheap source of energy, according to SOS Children’s Villages.
  6. Pervasive income inequality happens to be one of the top 10 facts about poverty in Georgia that cannot be ignored. Even if their economy went up by 11 percent each year, it would take almost 10 years for the poverty rate to reduce dramatically.
  7. Labor market status is another big reason for a large number of Georgia’s population living in poverty. According to The World Bank, people still rely on self-employment as the main source of income.
  8. Children living in rural areas of the country are less likely to have access to a proper education or healthcare, according to SOS Children’s Villages. The infant mortality rate is also quite high.
  9. Georgia ranked 140 in the world for their GDP per capita, right between Guatemala and Paraguay, according to Limes. Even if Georgia used its GDP for consumption, the average person would only receive about $200 per month.
  10. The Georgian government has started growing their healthcare system, which includes low-cost health insurance and pensions for daycare. However, according to The World Bank, only about 30 percent of people who require government aid actually receive it.

Since 2004, Georgia has made democratic reforms in public service and economic development, according to UNDP. The Georgian government has implemented many ongoing reforms to help with human rights and the election system, which will in return assist with poverty reduction. 

– McKenzie Hamby
Photo: Flickr

Twenty-three years ago, Georgia committed itself to the goal of removing all discrimination against women. This pledge occurred at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, where the involved nations signed an international convention that called on each country to create an action plan.

While social norms continue to reinforce a gender divide that undermines girls’ education in Georgia, a lot has changed since the momentous convention. Here are seven things to know about girls’ education in Georgia.

7 Important Facts About Girls’ Education in Georgia

  1. Georgian girls outperform boys in reading, mathematics and science. Indeed, the average mathematics score for 4th-grade girls was seven percent more than that for boys; in addition, the average science scores favored 4th-grade girls by nine percent.
  2. The graduation rate from upper secondary schools in 2012-2013 was 74.4 percent for females, compared to 68.8 percent for males. In those same years, 91.2 percent of all females transitioned from lower secondary to upper secondary schools, compared to 85.8 percent of males. The dropout and repeat rates, on the other hand, were the same for both girls and boys, with a dropout rate of 0.2 percent and a repeat rate of 0.1 percent in grade three.
  3. Despite their academic achievements, Georgian girls are underrepresented in STEM and entrepreneurial occupations. In fact, 58 percent of all respondents to a research report by the U.N. Development Program saying that a man would make a better business leader. According to the World Bank, Georgian girls are brought up to believe that STEM careers are more suitable for men; young Georgian women overwhelmingly major in arts, education and healthcare. Men, on the other hand, tend to major in high-wage sectors like engineering and manufacturing. Organizations like the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Girls Up are stepping up to fill in the gap in Georgian girls’ STEM education. Since 2015, MCC has arranged exchange programs between Georgian and American students, placing a special emphasis on women participation and allowing Georgians to earn reputable STEM degrees. The global initiative Girls Up has organized a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Design and Mathematics camp to help girls realize their leadership potential and explore new disciplines.
  4. In some cases, early marriages have prevented teenage girls from completing their education. In 2015 alone, 224 girls aged 14 – 16 left school on the grounds of marriage. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) found that 17 percent of Georgian women married before the age of 18. Recognizing that early marriage carries adverse effects for girls’ education in Georgia, the Georgian Parliament ruled in a law passed on January 1, 2017 that only individuals who have reached the age of 18 are legally allowed to marry.
  5. Girls from ethnic minorities — Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Russians, Ossetians — are more likely to drop out of school. In an effort to engage these ethnic minorities with the school curriculum, Georgia’s Ministry of Education and Science has supported bilingual education programs and professional development for teachers residing in ethnic enclaves. In 2014, the Ministry awarded certificates to 80 teachers for their completion of the “Teach Georgian as a Second Language” program, which offered professional development for educators in non-Georgian schools.
  6. While Georgian girls are more likely than boys to enroll in tertiary education, educated women make up the largest category of underemployed women. Once employed, these women face a 37 percent earnings gap with their male counterparts. Diminishing this gap will incentivize more girls to pursue higher education. The Law on Gender Equality — passed on January 1, 2014 — sought to do just that by raising paid maternity leave from 126 to 183 calendar days.
  7. U.N. bodies have collaborated with Georgia’s Ministry of Education and Science to foster gender equality at school. The U.N. Women initiative, which took root in Georgia in 2001, supports girls’ education in Georgia by hosting training sessions for women interested in entrepreneurial careers. On July 25, 2018, a U.N. Women training on organizational management and leadership brought together 25 aspiring women entrepreneurs. Likewise, the Peace Corps sent 114 volunteers to Georgia to assist with English education in geographically remote areas of Georgia. After being assigned to a public school, volunteers work with teachers to organize after-school English clubs and teacher workshops in regional centers.

Increased Opportunities

With more national awareness and international assistance, Georgia has worked to promote educational opportunities for girls. Laws like the ban on early marriages help keep girls in school for longer and further their career goals.

– Mark Blekherman
Photo: Flickr

OssetiaDiscussing poverty in Georgia is difficult to do without also acknowledging the sensitive subjects of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. There is extensive debate over how best to describe these regions, but they are described as anything from disputed territories to de facto Russian client states propped up and recognized by few other than Russia itself. As such, poverty in Abkhazia and South Ossetia comes with its own special set of circumstances.

The collapse of the Soviet Union was a major turning point in the history of this part of the world and it has left lingering trauma in the region. Abkhazia and South Ossetia were relatively well-off parts of the Soviet Union, but following its collapse, they both saw their populations and their standards of living decline. The effect of this collapse is lingering poverty in Abkhazia and South Ossetia such that a majority of residents view the dissolution of the USSR in a negative light.

The current political situation in both of these territories is far from stable, even after nearly two decades of violence, suspected ethnic cleansing and political turmoil. This presents a unique set of obstacles for addressing poverty in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, particularly in Abkhazia.

Most residents of Abkhazia, regardless of ethnic group, seem to favor total independence with the exception of ethnic Armenians, who support integration into the Russian Federation. If anything, however, Russian influence is strongly cemented into the Abkhaz political sphere, which means that any changes in the status of Abkhazia will lean heavily toward deeper integration with Russia.

South Ossetia is also finding itself pulled more and more into Moscow’s orbit. However, this is less of a problem than in Abkhazia as an overwhelming majority of its ethnically homogenous population is in favor of joining the Russian Federation.

The international community continues to debate whether and how to handle this political situation, but few are confident that a solution will be reached anytime soon. Meanwhile, however, poverty in Abkhazia and South Ossetia remains a problem and residents are finding that few in the midst of this great power struggle are attentive to their real and pressing needs.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia face particular challenges when dealing with poverty because of their disputed political status. It is difficult for them to access international markets, but Abkhaz and Ossetian products do not necessarily fare well in Russian markets. It is also worth noting that Georgia also suffers as a result; it has lost access to Russian markets as a result of this political dispute, where prior to the conflict 70 percent of its trade volume was with Russia. The complicated political situation makes it difficult for aid to reach these regions and hinders efforts to collect accurate data.

The 2014 Winter Olympics were a beacon of hope to relieve poverty in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The goal was for tourism to nearby Sochi to help shine a light on these locales and promote tourism there as well. However, this ended when Russia, prioritizing security above all else, closed the Abkhazian and South Ossetian borders.

That being said, there are a number of actors trying to improve the situation and promote economic development in this troubled region. The UNDP in Georgia has made combating poverty, and specifically youth unemployment, a key feature of its work. Promoting youth employment is key because it not only promotes economic growth, but can also discourage young people from becoming involved in political violence.

While Abkhazia and South Ossetia face many challenges that will not abate any time soon, efforts are being made to work around the political situation to bring real change to the lives of the people in these regions. Abkhazia and South Ossetia are just two reminders that even in seemingly intractable conflicts, poverty reduction is still critically important and can make a huge difference.

– Michaela Downey

Photo: Flickr

credit access in GeorgiaCredit in Georgia is comparatively easy to access compared to similar economies in the region. That being said, any deficit in this area is still a major obstacle to economic development. However, steps are being taken to identify the factors standing in the way of credit access in Georgia and determine how to eliminate them

Georgia is ranked as one of the best countries in eastern Europe and central Asia for credit access. Very well-qualified borrowers are able to secure lines of credit without too much difficulty, and the country’s financial system is conducive to lending. It is worth noting that a significant share of applicants are denied because they have unacceptably high levels of existing debt.

However, credit access in Georgia is an issue mainly for new businesses. It is estimated that 40 percent of the small to medium-sized enterprises in Georgia that need credit cannot access it because they are denied or discouraged from even applying. Those who can theoretically be approved for loans often find that the interest rate offered to them is prohibitively high. Seventy percent of applicants for financing said that high interest rates were an issue for them.

Another more minor problem is that it is easier to get a loan in U.S. dollars than it is to get a loan in Georgian lari. As a result, the exchange rate is depreciating and borrowers are extremely vulnerable to fluctuations. Many borrowers are not even aware that borrowing in a foreign currency exposes them to this kind of risk. This is a good example of the unintended consequences of poor access to credit denominated in the local currency.

Fortunately, those who are able to borrow thanks to microfinance programs offered by the U.S. and others generally report that they are happy with their experience. Georgia also has a good financial infrastructure in that there is centralized credit reporting, although many people do not fully understand how it works and are unsure of what to do if they run into trouble.

The Smart Campaign has done extensive research on financial literacy and credit access in Georgia. This research has helped to identify several ways to improve credit access in Georgia, which, if enacted, promise to boost the Georgian economy by encouraging greater financial security while also liberalizing lending practices.

– Michaela Downey

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Benefits of Digital Infrastructure in Georgia
The Republic of Georgia — located between Europe and the Middle East — is home to a population of over nine million citizens. The nation ranks 116th in GDP per capita with a poverty rate of about 30 percent.

Infrastructure in Georgia has slowly improved over the last few years, and according to research done by the World Bank, Georgia has also worked to facilitate trade and increase their value proposition as a transit country.


Electricity and Infrastructure Improvements

Electrical transmission lines cover up to 11,297 kilometers in Georgia already, and plans to expand capacity are underway. Georgia is also adding 1,700 Km of new lines by 2022 while simultaneously upgrading cross-border transmission capacity that could reach up to 5,000 MW by 2022.

Infrastructure in Georgia is becoming the central focus of the government’s plan to improve economic conditions in the country. In fact, the nation contains an abundance of untapped resources that explicitly appeal to the booming digital sector.


Financial Aid and Investments

The 1996 U.S financial backing of the local startup Sanet Network led to the first internet service provider of the modest nation, as well as the rise of four others. Since 2008, however, telecommunication infrastructure investment has plateaued while software piracy has also reached alarming levels that frighten away foreign investment in technology.

Lack of IT investment also holds back other industries like hospitality, energy, manufacturing and real estate. In the digital age, these industries rely on data centers, telecom hubs and energy distributors, who in turn rely heavily on infrastructure that can operate on scalable and flexible distribution models.


Georgia’s Location as Potential Hub

Although challenges exist, Georgia is geographically well-positioned and could, in theory, become a mega-hub for interconnectivity and a major power provider for its neighboring countries. Potential for growth definitely exists in the energy sector from hydro resources, wind, solar, geothermal and biomass sources. These untapped businesses could lead to ample financial gains for foreign investors who could then accurately implement energy, data center and telecom infrastructures.

Technology companies are now also interested more than ever in being closer to their end-users. Georgia’s multi-bordering capability can cede mass future cloud deployments. Cloud providers would have more flexibility and reliability, and also add the highly sought out redundancies to their cloud.


Mega-Moves in the Digital Infrastructure in Georgia

Deployment of Magti telecom infrastructure gave internet connectivity to 2,000 schools — a move that brought over 700,000 new users to the web. Cross partnerships between providers and government agencies (such as the Ministry of Education in Georgia) has improved academia in urban and rural areas, which also serves as an important advance in alleviating poverty.

BitFurry, a global bit-coin blockchain service provider, recently had success with data centers located in Gori; Georgia anticipated spending over 100 million dollars in infrastructure to deploy its next hub at a new technology park that was funded in part by Georgian Co-Investment fund.

But the new 100 Mega-Watt bitcoin mining data center is expected to develop on 185,000 square miles of land procured by the Georgian National Agency of State Property called the “Special Technology Zone,” aimed at attracting foreign research and development.


Infrastructure Betters the Nation

Poverty decreased for a fourth consecutive year in the country, although one-third of Georgia still lives under the poverty line; favorable business activity has been the driving force of that reduction.

With only 25 percent of its renewable energy resources exploited, Georgia could also see improvements through sales of excess energy. Georgia’s beautiful high-mountains and fast-flowing rivers are low-cost generation sources.

The digital frontier has opened possibilities for many around the world, and helping countries find ways to self-cure poverty is an excellent tool for sustainable poverty reduction.

Investment into infrastructure in Georgia can have significant positive effects for the sprawling country. Mutually beneficial business ideas can open doors for further innovation and propagate an inclusive digital world economy.

– Hector Cruz

Photo: Flickr

women's empowerment in GeorgiaGeorgia, a country near the Caucasus Mountains, is situated between Europe and Asia with its border touching the Black Sea. Georgia has been under the influence of different empires throughout the centuries, from the Roman, Arab and Ottoman Empires to Imperial Russia. It was also a part of the former Soviet Union until its independence in 1991.

The country, though rich in ancient culture and heritage, faces gender inequality and discrimination against women. Due to its deep-rooted tradition and strong patriarchal society, women are mostly engaged in household activities with little opportunity for higher education and employment.

The rate of violence and abuse against women is also a concern. According to research funded by the U.N., one in 11 married women is the victim of violence at the hands of her husband or partner. Domestic abuse is still considered a private matter and women are hesitant to speak out. Thus, women’s empowerment in Georgia faces a major challenge.

The good news is that organizations like the United Nations, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other European associations are helping to fight the injustices that women in Georgia encounter in their everyday lives.

Contributions of the U.N. to Women’s Empowerment in Georgia
Since 2001, U.N. Women, along with Norway and the European Commission, has been working to address this issue. Their target is to reduce violence against women, provide them with peace and security, help them achieve financial independence and include them in national planning, budgeting and policymaking.

So far, U.N. Women has helped the Georgian government establish women’s shelters, launch a domestic violence helpline and promote awareness related to the rights of women, and has also provided assistance in introducing gender-inclusive policies to Parliament.

Another important focus is the support for internally displaced persons, people who were forced to flee their homes but remain within the country. With funding provided by the European Union, U.N. Women provides free legal aid, social services like daycare and economic opportunities to protect them from vulnerable conditions.

Contributions of USAID to Women’s Empowerment in Georgia
USAID has completed a three-year advocacy program to economically empower women in Georgia. The aim of the program was to mobilize women to fight for equality in the workplace. The program also provided incentives to employers to follow the existing non-discriminatory law in Georgia. They also helped to protect women’s rights in the legislature.

USAID’s other program, begun in September 2015, is the reduction of violence against women. The program, along with Georgia’s government, addresses domestic violence by establishing a national referral mechanism and promoting anti-violence education in schools, as well as using media and civic dialogue.

Although women are coming forward to fight for their rights, we still hear disturbing news of violence against women in Georgia. Hopefully, the joint effort of these organizations and their government will help them retain their self-respect and human rights.

– Mahua Mitra

Photo: Flickr

The country of Georgia is conveniently tucked between the Black Sea and the Caucasus mountain range separating Europe and Asia. For centuries, Georgia’s strategic location has made it a focal point for competition among the Kingdom of Persia, the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire and then again by their modern counterparts. In the 18th century Georgia fell under the control of the Russian Empire and then fell again to the Soviet Union. Modern-day Georgia gained its independence in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, conflict broke out due to the instability in Georgia. In 1992, a civil war began and Russia sent peacekeepers to the Abkhazia region of Georgia; it has kept a presence there to this day. Following tensions in 2008, the five-day Russo-Georgian war was waged between Georgian rebels, Georgia and Russia. The end resulted in Russia occupying both territories, which are internationally recognized as Georgian territory.

After the end of the war, many western nations reached out to provide humanitarian aid to Georgia. At the time, U.S. President George W. Bush saw an opportunity to both provide humanitarian aid to Georgia and seek a new ally in the region. The U.S. assisted over 275,000 internally displaced persons and refugees from the war, most notably in the city of Gori, where 56,000 people had fled to from South Ossetia.

Over the next several months, international aid organizations and the United Nations also helped to aid internally displaced people, whether through medical aid or through family reunification programs. Due to the humanitarian aid provided by the international community, Georgia was able to mitigate the disastrous damage to its economy.

Perhaps one of the most important things saved in Georgia was its democracy. Almost unique among ex-soviet states, Georgia has been able to sustain a democracy with peaceful government transitions of power between government leaders and political parties.

This stable government has allowed Georgia to fight corruption and slowly grow its economy. Although it has yet to return to its pre-war level and unemployment remains high, the government has signed a trade agreement with the European Union and seeks to negotiate a trade deal with China. Georgia is seeking other international agreements to bolster its economy and its security. Georgia is seeking membership to both the European Union and NATO.

The success of humanitarian aid to Georgia may seem more dramatic than in other countries, but it is a prime example of how aid, over time, can improve the stability of a country.

– Nick DeMarco

Photo: Flickr

Addressing Nine Important Facts about Poverty in GeorgiaThe small and ancient nation of Georgia, home to the highest mountain range in Europe called the Caucasus Mountains, borders Russia and Armenia.  It was one of the first countries in the world to officially adopt Christianity and has a long, rich history intertwined with religion. Poverty in Georgia remains an ongoing concern.

Here are nine facts about poverty in Georgia.

  1. Many more Georgians report being unemployed than the official unemployment rate. The official unemployment rate in Georgia is 12 percent, but a whopping 68 percent of the population consider themselves unemployed.
  2. The separatist conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia are a major cause of poverty in Georgia. Georgia officially recognizes both provinces as its territory, despite the states’ attempts to secede to Russia with the assistance of the Russian military. This follows an earlier armed conflict in these regions in 1992-1993.
  3. One in five Georgians lives below the poverty line. Officially, 20.1 percent of Georgians live below the relative poverty line.
  4. Despite being a largely agricultural nation, much of the produce in Georgia is imported. With the exception of potatoes and onions, many fruits and vegetables sold in Georgia’s markets come from Turkey, Greece or even Iran.
  5. Dependency is common. The dependency ratio in Georgia is 1:1.2, compared to the suggested level of one dependent per three people.
  6. One of the biggest contributors to poverty in Georgia is its failing pension system. Due to the aforementioned underemployment of citizens, many workers don’t pay taxes, leaving few funds for the pension system. To make matters worse, there are tens of thousands of likely nonexistent “ghost recipients” receiving government pensions.
  7. Poverty varies from region to region. Places like the mountainous, isolated Imereti and former Soviet industrial zones have suffered the worst, while more agricultural regions have fared better.
  8. Georgia now associates with the E.U. in various capacities, having signed an association agreement with the European Union that took effect in 2016. The E.U. has also loosened restrictions on the visas of Georgians working within its borders. This will hopefully have a positive effect on Georgia’s economy and lessen poverty in Georgia.
  9. Georgia has made some important political reforms. In particular, the success of various electoral and local government reforms was made clear in the parliamentary elections of 2012.

In order to combat the growing effects of poverty in Georgia, it is necessary that the country’s citizens receive help in the form of both domestic and foreign aid. With hope, Georgians can be lifted out of their joblessness and set out on a path to a brighter future.

– Andrew Revord

Photo: Flickr