Care International in the Caucasus has currently undertaken a shift in its strategic planning to a 'program approach' . This approach represents an effort by CARE to better coordinate its activities to achieve a meaningful and sustainable impact on people’s lives by focusing on particular 'underlying causes of poverty' and coordinating different project activities to try to alleviate them.
In Georgia the program is focused on alleviation of economic need and the enhancement of social justice and security amongst Georgia’s poorest rural communities. Our research started with an analysis of the Underlying Causes of Poverty in these regions.This research was then presented at conference on poverty in Georgia.
Based on this research we highlighted four main domains where action could be most clearly directed in order to achieve that goal. These four sectors were:
· participation and civil society
· conflict prevention and security
· market linkages and market support
In governance the analysis focused on two main issues. First, that the central government has not priortised agriculture with less than 1% of the consolidated budget going to agriculture in 2010. Second that there is very little responsibility for government planning or service provision at a local level.
In civil participation, we highlighted the fact that civil society organizations and community based organisations (CSO/CBOs) outside of Tbilisi are generally unsustainable without international financing. This is a problem because they can advocate for local needs, help manage local resources, provide services and act as communication and learning hubs. Without CSO/CBOs there is no community organization to help manage irrigation and collective land or for facilitating collective buying and selling. And the lack of CSOs to inform on new practices or to act as a local knowledge base for sharing best practice has hampered the uptake of new methods.
We looked at insecurity separately because insecurity is debilitating for growth and poverty alleviation. The poor are inherently insecure as small increases in their consumption needs or small reductions in their incomes can be disastrous. However, in Georgia it is important to be clear that while about ¼ of the population lives in poverty probably as many again live in situations of vulnerability where external shocks like sickness, injury, crop failure or short-term unemployment can send families into a poverty trap from which it is hard to recover.
On top of this, we have considered particularly vulnerable groups including IDPs, ethnic minorities and those in isolated rural areas.
The analysis also looks at the types of markets that can be developed to try and help rural communities. We looked at the market for inputs like seed, fertiliser and extension services. This is essential but not really working. Then we looked at the types of markets that agricultural producers should be trying to target. By comparing local and international markets, and particularly by looking at imports and exports, it seems clear that an export oriented strategy not only has fewer opportunities than a strategy oriented to local markets, but also, that it is less likely to help small farmers.
On the basis of the situational analysis and the underlying causes of poverty CARE International in the Caucasus developed an overview of the causal changes that will be necessary in each of the four domains in order to facilitate the goal of reducing poverty and insecurity and increasing social justice in poor rural communities in Georgia. This causal pathway is intended to highlight the way in which CARE imagines the improvements in each situation to build on each other and overlap. It also includes ‘breakthrough’ steps where it is believed that if a particular change can be created it will mark a lasting qualitative change.