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UNDP helps clean and educate in Pankisi

By Etuna Tsotniashvili
Monday, September 6

With the threat of floods increasing in the Pankisi Valley, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is stepping in to assist local authorities to clean the Alazani channel and the streams and ravines of other mountain rivers. With the funds and technical assistance of UNDP, more than 8 km of the Alazani channel and other rivers will be cleaned by the end of September. This will provide temporary jobs to more than 30 local residents.

On September 3 UNDP Resident Representative Jamie McGoldrick travelled to Pankisi Valley where he met Governor of the Kakheti region Giorgi Gviniashvili and launched the works.

Speaking in Birkiani village, McGoldrick said one of UNDP’s priorities is to help protect peoples’ houses, property and agriculture spots from damage and losses.

“We saw some people in Pankisi cleaning the channel to make sure that water flows better. That protects the communities and shows them the collaboration between different parts of the community helps. At the same time the governor’s office and local authorities are involved in the risk reduction in terms of trying to prevent harm from flooding. Flooding is a very important part for this part of the world and for UNDP,” McGoldrick told the The Messenger.

”The Pankisi Valley has experienced a lot of trouble with floods in the past. With this initiative we hope to be better prepared this year,” Governor Gviniashvili said.

23 year old local Ia Gakhvtishvili said that her village suffered a lot because of the floods and cleaning the channels will avoid any further damage. Every time the water falls from the mountains (high Mountains are very near the populated area) it enters in our houses and damages not only our belongings but the gardens and vegetables.

One of the major problems the villagers have is a lack of drinking water. They have appealed to the Kakheti local government but until now the problem has not been solved. Ghviniashvili and local authority representatives say they are working on a project which will soon be complete and in about one month the problem will be solved.

UNDP launched a new programme in 2010 to promote social and economic development in the Pankisi Valley. In cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UNDP project will cover a number of areas, such as the promotion of vocational education, support to agriculture, rehabilitation of infrastructure, and assistance to local government.

On the same day Jamie McGoldrick presented certificates to graduates of Vocational Education classes. UNDP has been providing vocational education and re-training in the areas of construction, food processing industry and agriculture.

Malika Machalikashvili chose a course in the professional cheese maker even though she was already employed in a cheese factory located in the village of Duisi but decided to retrain in order to be more skilled and get more information about this activity.

“I am very thankful for UNDP because it gave us a chance to have training in our area of interest and now we are stronger competitors in this field. The training was very interesting and we believe that if it continues in that way, many of our villagers, especially those who are unemployed will find a job after undergoing such training,” she told the paper.

“The vocational education project is very important for us, UNDP as well as the government of Georgia, to address the very important unemployment problems that Georgia faces. Vocational education is a way for people to get different experience, to get training to address the market. And we believe that this is a very successful attempt by us, by individuals themselves to be trained and retrained, to pick up schools according to demand,” McGoldrick said.