PIN supports the development of an active and grassroots-based civil society which is able to constructively engage local authorities and other stakeholders on the issues that matter the most to local communities.
To do so, PIN works to scale up a well-proven mechanism of participatory local development that sees civil society organizations and other active citizens working together with institutions to develop good strategies for the social and economic development of their territories.
PIN’s approach is two-fold. Firstly, we aim to empower people and civil society organizations by providing the tools and knowledge required through trainings and workshops. Subsequently, PIN proactively supports dialogue among actors and provides grants to support social projects that are designed in a participatory manner - in particular, the ones developed by young people and municipalities to jointly solve community issues. With a ‘learn-by-doing’ approach, PIN also supports local institutions to increasingly finance local development themselves, fostering a future of self-reliance.
Civil society actors as drivers of change in South Caucasus and Moldova
People in Needs itself started out in 1992 as a grassroots humanitarian initiative by a group of Czech war correspondents who were no longer satisfied with reporting on conflicts and crises around the world and wanted to make a difference. Our co-founder and current director Simon Panek was a student activist during the Velvet Revolution, and the surge of creative energy, civic mobilization, and social responsibility that emerged during that time was the driving force behind who we are today.
That’s why we are drawn to like-minded civic actors who are committed to representing people’s needs, those who are seeking to influence real systemic change, and those who are raising new important issues that are not widely known or discussed or in the society. We recognize their diversity and do not envision them following a uniform path of becoming formalized civil society organizations similar to us today. On the other hand, we do believe that we have something to learn from and offer to each other.
In the first few months of this new project, we would like to get together and get to know each other. This exploration will be thematically and geographically open: we will be looking to get in touch with groups and initiatives across the region in sectors as diverse as climate change and environment, public spaces, community participation in local decision-making and budgeting, preservation of local heritage, quality of public services, anti-corruption, women’s rights, working conditions, voices of marginalized groups, and more.
We would like to work closely together to understand what is needed in order for them to have more impact, stronger representation of and accountability to their communities, and more effective mobilization of resources (funds, people, skills and data) for change.
After a transparent selection process, we will work with a small and diverse group of participants on developing ambitious but realistic plans for who they want to be and what they want to achieve in the upcoming year. We will offer funding linked to their strategic plans and specific initiatives. We will support learning by doing, thematic research, campaigns, exchanges and alliances. And next year, we will do it again, but better.
Some of the specific areas of learning we believe could arise during this process are: alternative fundraising, mobilization of volunteers, daily challenges of diverse groups working together, inclusion and resolution of internal disputes, making plans and making them happen, developing a learning culture, internal accountability and building trust with wider community, harnessing creativity, art and technology for change, building alliances, deciding on what position to take in dealing with public authorities, local businesses and others who could help or hinder your efforts, and many others.
Strengthening Democratic Resilience in Georgia
Partner: Together, USAID and the Czech MFA will partner with a consortium of Czech organizations led by People in Need (PIN) and including the European Values Center for Security Policy (EVC) and Transitions Online (TOL) to strengthen the ability of Georgia’s independent media to expose and counter disinformation and malign influence.
Specific Objective: The aim of the project is to empower the Georgian people to build resilience against malign influence, including disinformation. The Strengthening Democratic Resilience in Georgia project focuses on countering disinformation to support Georgia’s continued development toward a citizen-responsive democracy.
Main Project activities:
- Empowering independent media through skills training on verifying information when reporting and producing content;
- Supporting media monitoring organizations to map and expose foreign influence and disinformation activities;
- Leveraging partnerships with local civil society organizations to promote media and information literacy amongst citizens of all ages;
- Engaging youth to promote media literacy and critical thinking among their peers.
Advancing Regions for Sustainable Development (ARSD)
Regional development aims to reduce regional disparities by supporting employment and wealth-generating economic activities in regions. It is not a simple concept in theory, and it is something that is even more difficult to put into practice. In the Georgian context, decision making about development has traditionally happened top-down and prioritised cities, particularly the cap down and prioritised cities, particularly the capital, over more rural, regional areas. For example, in developing tourism or infrastructure, the Government has been the main deciding body, choosing what is developed and where – but times are changing.
In Georgia today, municipalities have greater autonomy to develop the regions and the Government put into place a Regional Development Strategy in 2015, which allows municipalities to set the priorities for investment in their region under a Regional Development Fund. As People in Need, we believe that the best decisions for development are the most informed ones and involve input from different groups of society. That is why People in Need and the Czech Development Agency are supporting regional development in Georgia by commissioning extensive research and facilitating different regional and local groups to come together to make choices about the future of their region. By empowering local and regional groups and equipping them with the skills needed to assess the needs of people in their region and develop strategic plans to address them, the voices of local communities can be heard. These local and regional groups include Local Action Groups (which are made up of community members, private sector representatives and local authorities), civil society organisations, regional universities, think tanks, and municipalities. As part of this initiative, we are supporting them to come together and listen to each other’s ideas in order to make plans for their region together.
This is Natia, a member of a Local Action Group in Kazbegi. The regional centre of Kazbegi municipality is Stepantsminda that is a small town of just 2,000 residents located in the northeast of Georgia close to the Russian border in a region called Mtskheta-Mtianeti. Not only is Natia participating in this process to jointly develop the region where she lives, she is also running a small local business at the same time. She is passionate about what she does and determined to improve conditions in her region. She is contributing individually and jointly to her wider community, and we think her voice should be heard.
Hear what she has to say! Video
Human Rights through Documentaries
For the younger generations, we believe it is important for them to be empowered to explore new ways to approach their future, fulfill their hopes and address the challenges of the future. One way we are trying to support and empower youth in Georgia is through human rights education, and specifically human rights education through the medium of documentaries.
‘Human Rights through Documentaries’ is a project designed to raise awareness and foster healthy discussion among youth around important issues related to human rights. Together with our project partner the Human Rights Academy of the Public Defender of Georgia, we support Georgian civil society organisations to promote and protect human rights and empower young people to promote human rights in their communities.
The project is funded by the Transition Promotion Program of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and follows in the footsteps of PIN’s human rights education work in the Czech Republic through the One World Human Rights Film Festival, as well as in countries such as Serbia, Armenia, Mongolia and Moldova through other documentary based human rights education projects.
In Georgia, the idea is simple. Local organisations host small events at which young people can gather and watch powerful documentaries. After each screening, a group discussion on the topics raised in the documentary is facilitated, and the young audience is encouraged to share their thoughts and listen to the ideas and opinions of others. The group facilitators are trained on the Teaching through Film methodology, so that they can facilitate a discussion that generates interest, develops autonomous thinking and encourages mobilisation. The facilitation of the discussion is important, especially when it comes to approaching youth about delicate and important issues such as human rights. By 2020, 1500 young people will have taken part in this Human Rights through Documentaries project.
“In Georgia,” says Nato Antia, the Project Manager of the Human Rights through Documentaries initiative, “we are working in Gori and Senaki Municipalities. These are conflict-affected areas where high numbers of conflict-affected families and displaced people live. We are working with young people who are not involved in other activities, not engaged in projects and probably not very active at school as well. We want to show them the power of documentary films for them to become actors of human rights in their local communities.”
“After the screenings, we support young people to implement their initiatives to address local challenges. We really count on the creativity and honesty of young people. We want to give them space for innovation. The topics of the documentaries were selected through an online survey that sought to understand which topics are most interesting for young people. Gender balance and environmental rights were the most requested.” Antia describes the project in a nutshell, “the messages we want to youth to hear are: respect diversity and encourage a positive change in your local community.”
Enhancing the participation of regional CSOs in policy dialogue on social inclusion in Georgia
Our project “Enhancing the participation of regional CSOs in policy dialogue on social inclusion in Georgia” was supported from the European Union and Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was active in four municipalities of Georgia. The main aim of the project intervention was to empower the active citizens and facilitate their dialogue with municipalities in order to create better social services. The projects were implemented by civil society organizations and local governmental bodies and were focused on the development of long-term social services for children, youth, IDPs, elderly, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, in order to improve the quality of their lives.
Civil Society Organisations Supporting Free Trade with European Union
Overall, the project is a contribution to the acceleration of Georgia's European integration. The project aims at strengthening region-based civil society organizations (CSOs) along the implementation of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) - part of the Association Agreement of Georgia with the European Union, and along the implementation of the national policy on small and medium enterprises (SME).
Still, a very small number of Georgian companies (according to some surveys only 6%) trade with the EU under the DCFTA. Region-based SME and particularly rural entrepreneurs with limited access to expertize, finance and difficulties entering new markets have to eventually comply with DCFTA regulations. In this regard, regional CSOs can serve as effective vectors of democratic and socio-economic development in rural regions.
Strengthening Democracy through Media Literacy
Project Partner: Terjola Municipal Youth Center
Overall Objective: To increase media literacy skills and critical thinking among Georgian youth to empower them to actively engage in community issues and democratic processes.
Specific Objective: To enhance capacity of stakeholders in Imereti and Samegrelo regions of Georgia to promote media literacy education among youth.
Project Area and Target Group: The project is implemented in Imereti and Samegrelo regions. The local target group includes four youth NGOs and two municipal youth centres.
Project Beneficiaries: Youth-based organizations in target regions, Municipal Youth Centres, Media outlets in the region, Civic Education teachers, local youth and General Public.
Main Project activities:
• Develop a methodological guide on media literacy in five films, with a specific focus on media literacy challenges in Georgia.
• Ensure involvement of representatives of the target Regional Resource Centres of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, representatives of the Civic Education Teachers' Forum and the Center for Professional Development of Learners in the development of the study guide.
• Capacity building of representatives of youth NGOs and Municipal Youth Centres through media literacy documentaries.
• Awareness raising of local media representatives of the target regions in the field of media literacy.
• Implement joint initiatives by youth groups and local media outlets to support media literacy in their communities.