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Living conditions unchanged in Georgia, NDI survey says

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, October 14
A nationwide poll has been released by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC Georgia, which found that Georgians believe their living conditions have stayed the same (47 percent) or worsened (43 percent) over the last year.

The survey conducted within the period of August 8 to September 10 this year with up to 4,500 interviewees involved, stated that improving roads, water and gas delivery and eliminating pollution are top priorities.

Respondents also believe that while their village or town is safe (83 percent) and a good place to raise children (72 percent), employment opportunities are inadequate (80 percent).

A total of 66 percent consider themselves unemployed. They identify tourism, farming, livestock, and light industry as the main economic development possibilities for their communities.

This was the first survey released by the NDI and CRRC Georgia that focused on local government issues.

It included a representative sample for the self-governing cities of Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Zugdidi, Gori, Telavi, Akhaltsikhe, Ozurgeti, Mtskheta and of the Gurjaani municipality.

In Tbilisi, the majority of questioned people complained about ecological problems and traffic issues. They also stated that transport in the capital and other towns were not suitably adapted for disabled people.

Interaction between citizens and elected local government officials (mayors/gamgeoba, sakrebulo members, and governors) is infrequent, the survey said.

Only 6 percent of Georgians report having ever been contacted by sakrebulo officials, 3 percent by mayors’ offices, and 1 percent by governors’ offices.

Knowledge of the work of these offices was also low, with approximately 60 percent of citizens reporting that they knew “nothing at all,” and 83 percent unable to identify their sakrebulo majoritarian member.

Citizen participation in public events, petitions and rallies is also low according to the poll.

Despite this limited interaction overall, those who did engage with local government officials reported them as competent (69 percent) and respectful (88 percent).

Further, citizens continue to highly rate the performance of emergency medical services and public service halls, with 89 percent reporting they were satisfied with the service they received at the public service halls.

"As previous polls have shown, Georgians are concerned about employment, living conditions, and the economic growth of their communities and would like to see improvements in basic infrastructure and a cleaner environment,” said Laura Thornton, NDI’s senior director in Georgia. “Across the country, there is minimal communication between citizens and their elected representatives but when such interaction takes place, citizens report positively. This presents important opportunities and incentives for local government officials to get out and talk to people more about what they are doing and to solicit public input,” she said.

The average margin of error of the survey is +/- 3.01 percent.

NDI’s survey work is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and carried out by the CRRC Georgia.

The non-governmental, non-profit organizations will reveal the political section of the survey on Thursday.