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USAID unveils new grants programmes

By Temuri Kiguradze
Wednesday, October 8
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced the details of its new development grant programmes for Georgia on October 7. The programmes are worth around USD 2.2 million.

At the presentation at the American Embassy USAID representatives said that the grants will be concentrated in three development areas – Environment, Women’s Empowerment and Microenterprises. “We’re looking for new partners and ideas” said the head of the USAID Caucasus mission Robert Wilson. The grants will be available for Georgian NGO’s, communities or anyone whose proposal meets the set criteria and who will be able to work “hand in hand” with existing USAID partners.

Environment grants will account for about USD 800,000 of the total. USAID states that applicants should focus on “conserving biodiversity in natural and managed ecosystems within Georgia’s protected areas and forests to maintain carbon stocks sequestered in these ecosystems and reduce threats to global climate change.” Special attention will be paid to projects for the restoration of areas damaged during the August conflict in Georgia, such as the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park.

USD 700,000 of grants will be expended on Women’s Empowerment projects. Project proposals for this funding stream should concentrate on giving women greater opportunity to develop skills which would enable them to start new businesses and find jobs. “A particular focus should be placed on targeting women IDP’s to address the economic effect of the recent conflict, help revitalize economic activity and rebuild livelihoods in the affected regions,” states USAID. The agency says that applicants should be ready to cooperate with the Government of Georgia as well as USAID Georgia mission funded economic growth programmes.

USD 700,000 has also been set aside for projects which will assist local microenterprises to develop their human and production capacities. This includes conducting training programmes, establishing connections between producers and large-scale buyers in the region and facilitating access to credits from financial institutions. There is an obvious possibility of project proposals covering more than one of these grant funding streams, though each stream is distinct.

At the presentation USAID representatives urged prospective applicants to “care about the quality of their projects, not the quantity,” and encouraged them to utilize the assistance of local experts working on projects already being funded by the mission. The deadline for concept applications is November 5, 2008.

The United States Agency for International Development is the American federal agency responsible for U.S. foreign economic assistance to developing countries around the world. The USAID mission in Georgia started operating in 1992, and since that year the agency has provided financial assistance of about USD 1 billion to various projects. Currently USAID supports about 20 projects in Georgia.