Over 100 Highland Villages in Georgia to Be Provided with Internet, Electricity

Around 100 villages in Georgia’s mountainous Pshav-Khevsureti and Gudamakari gorges will be provided with internet and electricity in the near future.

The decision was made at a meeting of the National Council for Development of the Highlands of Georgia, which was held under the leadership of Prime Minister of Georgia, Mamuka Bakhtadze.

It was decided at the meeting that the cost of internet installation will be fully covered from the Fund for Development of the Highlands of Georgia.

Solar panels and power supply to over 100 villages are being considered by the government for joint funding with the United States Agency of International Development (USAID). Overall, 400 households will get power supply.

The PM underlined at the meeting that the Highlands Development Project is of the utmost importance for the government.

Bakhtadze gave the example of Austria, noting how they had managed to develop mountainous regions to a high-level.

“We eagerly invest in resources and energy. We have positive expectations. Effectiveness and efficiency should undoubtedly be increased," stated the PM.

Within the Strategy of Inclusive Growth and Development, authorities will have new initiatives, but the PM noted that initiatives coming from the people themselves will have greater importance in this and many other fields.

The second meeting of the National Council for Development of the Highlands of Georgia discussed key components of the Strategy for 2019-2023.

The strategy and action plan will be developed by the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia.

Programs to be implemented in the mountains of the country in 2018-2019 were also discussed, including the development of forests and tourism in forests as a main segment.

After the meeting, Vice-Premier, Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure, Maia Tskitishvili stated that after the adoption of the "Law on Mountainous Settlements" in 2015, the Government of Georgia has taken a number of important steps forward.

"Of course, we know not all problems in the mountains are covered by this law. But we are discussing specific actions and steps to be taken in order to encourage the people to return and settle back in their home villages in the mountainous regions,” the Minister stated.

Moreover, it was agreed at the meeting that the Ministry of Health will implement a program of first aid for the residents of high mountainous regions, which implies medical training for locals.

Davit Sergeenko, Minister of Labor, Health, Social Affairs and IDPs from the Occupied Territories of Georgia, stated the training of locals in highlands is necessary, so they can provide first aid assistance before the ambulance reaches them.

“However, I would like to underline that it does not exclude sending medical assistance to such regions…Many countries have such a practice,” Sergeenko added.

The Law on the Development of Mountainous Regions was adopted in 2015. 1730 settlements were granted the status of High Terrain Communities and 330,000 people enjoy privileges provided by the law.

By Thea Morrison

23 August 2018 19:00