The year 2021 was challenging – the COVID-19 pandemic pressured the health care system, economic stagnation and inflation deepened, and our lives were negatively affected by restrained inter-personal contracts due to the pandemic regulations. In such situation, however, the needs for humanitarian aid and development cooperation increase, and thus the work of Caritas Czech Republic has become much more indispensable. Seeing it from this point of view, the year 2021 was very successful for Caritas Czech Republic in Georgia, as we could provide more of needed assistance than in any other year before. Thanks to our donors, we were able to run a total of 14 individual projects with an overall yearly budget slightly below two million Euro, and be active in four priority sectors – health care, social protection, rural development, and environmental protection.
So what are some of the most remarkable successes?
1. Through modern IT solutions to better Primary Health Care
In the health care sector, Caritas Czech Republic – as one of the most important stakeholders and partners of Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia (MoILHSA) – participated actively in the systemic improvements of the country´s primary health care (PHC) system. Thanks to the funding from the Czech Development Agency (CzechAid), Caritas created a set of IT solutions which are going to be used by the PHC providers throughout the country to increase the quality of PHC services, and to collect the data about prevalence of non-communicable diseases. Part of the solution is also a COVID-19 vaccination booking portal, which is used by all of those who are being vaccinated in Georgia.
The development of IT solutions has been accompanied by on-spot and distant trainings and supervision provided to PHC rural ambulatories in order to familiarize them with new software and clinical protocols, which were created within the projects financed by CzechAid and UNICEF.
Apart from technical assistance, Caritas Czech Republic provided IT equipment, personal protective equipment, and small medical equipment for rural ambulatories in West Georgia, including Gali region thanks to the finances from International Visegrad Fund.
In West Georgia, we also actively supported access to oncology screening programmes and early detection of cancer through quality assurance and supervision of Zugdidi Screening Center and through extensive public outreach campaign. Although the project on establishment screening center in Zugdidi finished in December 2021, Caritas Czech Republic will continue supporting access to oncology screening programs during 2022 via the Czech MEDEVAC programme.
2. Improving services for people with disabilities
For many years, we have been striving to improve the lives of the persons with mental as well as physical disabilities. In order to support MoILHSA in the process of deinstitutionalization of the services for persons with disabilities (PwDs), Caritas Czech Republic has been working on national Deinstitutionalization (DI) Strategy and Action Plan. It will lead to the closure of two large boarding houses for PwDs, and the creation of services based on individual needs of each individual client. In line with that process, Caritas Czech Republic team has been constructing family-style community-based housing for PwDs in Dusheti Municipality.
In December 2021, one of long-term CzechAid-financed interventions aiming at the service improvement for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) was completed. Within this project, which started in 2015, national standards for ASD services were created and approved by MoILHSA and hundreds of rural doctors were trained to identify the risk of ASD in children. Moreover, dozens of regional therapists were trained in ASD approaches and supervised, and ASD support programs were advocated in all the municipalities of the country. As a result, the environment for children with ASD and their families in Georgia has improved significantly.
In 2021, we also focused on one of the most vulnerable members of the society – children with severe disabilities. To improve the quality of their lives and to ease their conditions, Caritas Czech Republic partially equipped a new Long-Term Care Unit at Zhvania Children Hospital in Tbilisi, and trained its new staff in the provision of long-term and palliative care.
3. New opportunities for people in rural areas
As part of its rural development activities, Caritas focuses on improving the socio-economic conditions of the people living in mountainous regions of Georgia. Thanks to the funding from European Union´s ENPARD programme, we had supported the socio-economic development in Khulo Municipality in the past four years. After establishment and empowerment of Local Action Group, activation of local youth, and provision of 63 grants and trainings to local SMEs, the Khulo ENPARD project successfully ended in February 2021.
In Racha´s Oni and Ambrolauri Municipalities, we supported 25 SMEs and individual entrepreneurs with grants and capacity building to help them mitigate negative effects of COVID-19 pandemic. We were proud to be able to present the project achievements to the delegation from Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which funded these activities.
4. Effective waste management – key part of environmental protection
During last year, Caritas Czech Republic strengthened its already extensive record of waste management activities. Thanks to the funding from SlovakAid, Lithuanian Development Cooperation, and through PEM Consult also from EU and KfW, our team laid ground for significant improvements in waste management in the whole Racha-Leckhumi and Lower Svaneti regions. Municipal guiding documents for all four municipalities were created and respective stakeholders received capacity-building trainings, and inter-municipal cooperation in waste management sector was initiated. There were also public awareness-raising activities organized to change the local population´s habits related to waste production and disposal. More specifically, the reuse of biodegradable waste in the form of compost was promoted.
Caritas Czech Republic expertise in waste management was also recognized on national level, as organization´s experts were invited to the hearing of the Environmental Committee of the Parliament of Georgia, and provided its inputs to future country strategy on inert waste recycling.
Our work could not be done without our donors and partners
All the above-mentioned activities would not have be possible without continuous support from donor organizations. During 2021, Caritas Czech Republic has worked with seven donors, namely with the Czech Development Agency, SlovakAid, European Union Delegation, Lithuanian Development Cooperation, UNICEF, International Visegrad Fund, and Czech-UNDP Partnership for SDGs. We sincerely thank all of them for their trust and readiness for cooperation.
Moreover, all above-mentioned would not have be possible without dedicated partner organizations – MoILHSA, State Care Agency, ESCUAC, Georgian Medical Holding, ILIAUNI, Oni and Ambrolauri Municipalities, and Ministry of Agriculture of Adjara Autonomous Republic being among them. We thank them as well.