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Far away from home

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Wednesday, May 14
Village Disveli, land of eco migrants, is a residence of 90 families, out of which 25 families are socially vulnerable. The village was built in the in 1990s, when homeless Ajarians, who lost their houses due to landslide in the Khulo region, were moved to Disveli by the government.

Initially, it was envisaged to build 220 houses, but a lot of problems were caused that time in the Sachkhere region, because of an earthquake. As a result, construction was halted and only 100 houses were partly built.

The residents of the village face many problems daily. According to the governor of village, Zurab Shainidze, the biggest problem is that people do not have enough land to feed their families. “In 2008, land was taken away from us, and the government sold about 100 acres to a Ukrainian investor. Before the village was using about 245 hectares, now only 145 hectares are available,” stated Shainidze.

People are still afraid that the land they own will also be sold. “However, the governor of Bolnisi region promised us that he will try and help us to resolve the problem. Minister of Energy, Kakha Kaladze also has promised to help, so all we can do at the moment is wait,” stated Levan Shainidze, a resident of the village.

Another huge problem is water. “We are not asking for drinking water, they give it to us at least 3-4 days a week for a few hours, and we collect it for later. We just need water for irrigation. For now we depend on God… if he gives us rain we will be able to have a harvest. If not, we will lose everything, just like we did last year,” stressed Shainidze.

The village does not have a kindergarten, a medical center, gas, or a road, so the residents of the village do not have access to an administrative center. “We live in extreme hardship, no one cares about us – only during the elections, and everything just ends on false promises. The only thing they have done is build a wire fence, and even that only partially completed. 13, 000 GEL was wasted and what do we have here? Nothing much,” stressed Ramaz Beridze.

The village has only one van in use to move to the center.

The main source of income for people is livestock, but none of the families have the possibility to have more than 2 cows. “Here none of the residents have any prospects; the only thing we can afford is clothes and food. We cannot sell potatoes or corn, because it is not enough even for us. If only we had irrigation water, we would be able to take care of ourselves. The winters are also very hard for us, as we have no gas. We have to buy wood because there is no wood around here to collect,” stated Roin Beridze.

The medical center is located in the building of the local school, where a doctor from Bolnisi comes twice a week. Headmaster of school Jansugh Shainidze stated that the school with about 120 students, does not have a library or a gymnasium. “Our children need books, the whole world has different values, but our children want only books. They are working every morning till their lessons start, and we cannot offer them even books after classes. It would be just great if someone helped our children, and make their days a bit more colorful,” stated Shainidze.

When asked about the future, the Municipality of Bolnisi answer was that residents have to blame themselves that they do not own land. According to the Bolnisi District’s Deputy Governor, David Aspanidze, the municipality has no lands in its reserve fund. “The population of Disveli was offered by the government to take part in an auction, they could buy land for just 270 GEL, but they refused, they wanted the land as a gift. However, the government found an investor and sold it. We cannot take anything from that man, because it belongs to him. If anyone has any problems, they can go to court and sue him. In the case of violations, maybe they will be able to get their land back,” stated Aspanidze.

The Head of the Economic Office of Bolnisi, Beso Rekhviashvili, commented about the irrigation issue. According to him, there is a plan to provide the village with water. “We are trying to find money for this project, but for now we cannot afford it, because such a solid project will require about half a million Gel,” stressed Rekviashvili.

The municipality also stated that they have started negotiations with SOCAR Energy Georgia and maybe the problem will be solved soon.

The material was prepared within media tour, which was frame worked within project Regional Civil Society network (R-CSN) and facilitated by non-governmental organization CIDA.