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IDP Settlements: The Same but Different

The report combines a survey of 22 new settlements and their neighboring communities with an analyis of infrastructure and economic development in each of the settlements and a review of both the government's and international community IDP projects.We cover employment, agricultural production and development prospects, integration and social service provision. The result is probably the most comprehensive review of new-settlement IDPs produced to date.

The project was conducted for CARE International in the Caucasus.

Overall we found that similarities in some areas hide significant differences between the settlements.The formal employment situation is dire for all. Only about 8% of IDPs and 12% of non-IDPs said they had formal employment and almost no-one owns a business.

That said, there is significant variation in agricultural activity which is the largest informal economic activity. This variation seems to be largely driven by differences in the quality of their land-plots. Most IDPs were allocated land-plots but the quality varies enormously in terms of quality of soil, irrigation, accessibility and resources (like fruit trees). Where land-plots are considered good then output can produce some income. Where they are considered bad, there is little or no agricultural activity. Below is a table showing variation in self-assessment of land-plots (the survey was not intended to be representative at a settlement level, but these results should be seen as indicative).

While some of the settlements seem to be developing and taking initiatives for their own improvement, many do not seem to have moved forward and show little signs of adaptation or economic activity.

Skra Settlement with a lot of activity Metekhi Settlement with very little activity

 

Cash assistance remains essential. Most new settlement IDPs currently automatically qualify for targeted social assistance, which is worth GEL 102 for a family of 4, and includes a reasonably comprehensive health insurance package. On top of that their utilities are paid. They also get support from the Ministry of Education to pay for text-books and in the past they have been provided with agricultural support in the form of farm machinery, free seed and fertilizer. 

However, this support is not very stable. Until the end of the year it was not clear that they would receive the same level of cash assistance in 2010 (though it now looks like they will) and there is no budget for agricultural support for IDPs this year.

In social service provision the picture was far more positive. In both healthcare and education the IDPs assessed all of the parameters of service provision (infrastructure, friendliness of service and quality) highly positively. There were two negative facts that emerged about social service provision. First, only around a quarter of children of kindergarten age attended (though this number was not much higher in non-IDP households). Second, while viewing their healthcare provision positively, most families still said they needed healthcare services that they could not afford.

The picture for integration also seems positive. While 69% of IDPs said they interact with non-IDPs ‘rarely' or ‘almost never' they generally did not feel unwelcome. There were some particular trouble spots, where conflict existed between IDPs and their neighboring communities, but these usually involved an ethnic dimension when Georgian IDPs had South-Ossetian, Armenian or Azeri neighbours.

In terms of physical infrastructure, in addition to variations in land-plots proximity to schools, hospitals and major roads varies significantly. The cottages are fairly uniform. Most of them have outside toilets and communal bathrooms are either being built or already have been. The biggest complaint, after the landplots, is the lack of space for winter food-stores, although some of the houses have constructed their own.

Overall we concluded that while the situation seemed very uniform in some ways, particularly relating to employment, the settlements were extremely different from each other. The more developed communities might be suited for economic development work but the less developed communities are unlikely to see sustainable economic development for some time and will need humanitarian assistance for a considerable time to come.

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