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Social Assistance and Successful Advocacy in Georgia: A social protection case study

Social Assistance and Successful Advocacy in Georgia: A social protection case study

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Published by Oxfam
This case study provides information about Oxfam's social protection project that began in Georgia in 2005. Oxfam worked with the Association of Young Economists of Georgia (AYEG) to gather information about household poverty levels, and to advocate for change in the government’s social aid system. This system - income support (cash transfers) and free health care – was previously failing to reach some of the country’s poorest people.

Through monitoring, research and advocacy, AYEG and Oxfam were able to influence social policy, and as a result, the poorest and most vulnerable people’s access to state benefits. Adjustments were made to the scoring methodology, as a consequence of this work, which resulted in an additional 34,000 families being included in the national social assistance system.
This case study provides information about Oxfam's social protection project that began in Georgia in 2005. Oxfam worked with the Association of Young Economists of Georgia (AYEG) to gather information about household poverty levels, and to advocate for change in the government’s social aid system. This system - income support (cash transfers) and free health care – was previously failing to reach some of the country’s poorest people.

Through monitoring, research and advocacy, AYEG and Oxfam were able to influence social policy, and as a result, the poorest and most vulnerable people’s access to state benefits. Adjustments were made to the scoring methodology, as a consequence of this work, which resulted in an additional 34,000 families being included in the national social assistance system.

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Published by: Oxfam on Oct 17, 2013
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11/29/2013

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Social Assistance andSuccessful Advocacy in Georgia A Social ProtectionCase Study
Written by Jane Beesley and edited by Carol Brady and Nupur Kukrety
 
This derelict and crumbling ex-soviet apartment block is home to thirteen displaced amilies. Photo: Caroline Berger 
 
Oxam’s social protection project began in Georgia in2005. Oxam worked with the Association o YoungEconomists o Georgia (AYEG) to gather inormationabout household poverty levels, and to advocate orchange in the government’s social aid system. Thissystem - income support (cash transers) and reehealth care – was previously ailing to reach some othe country’s poorest people.
Through monitoring, research and advocacy, AYEGand Oxam were able to infuence social policy, andas a result, the poorest and most vulnerable people’saccess to state benets. Adjustments were made tothe scoring methodology, as a consequence o thiswork, which resulted in an additional 34,000 amiliesbeing included in the national social assistance system.
The Bac
kground
Georgia, a lower middle-income country with apopulation o 4.5 million, gained independence in 1991ater the collapse o the Soviet Union. A period o unrestollowed, including a civil war lasting nearly three years.Disputed parliamentary elections in 2003, internationallyrecognised to be marred by raud, led to massive anti-government protests in most major towns and cities inGeorgia. This peaceul ‘Rose Revolution’ brought aboutthe election o a new government in 2004.Despite steady economic growth since 2004, livingstandards have ailed to improve. Relationships withneighbouring Russia have been tense. In 2008, militaryconict broke out when Russian troops intervened inGeorgia’s ongoing territorial dispute with South Ossetia.The cost o Georgia’s military has been a big drain onthe national budget – the Ministry o Deence is thegovernment’s biggest spender. The conicts o 1992 and2008 led to the introduction o expensive resettlementprogrammes, with the relocation o over 300,000people rom the conict aected areas. The economyalso suered rom the loss o export trade to Russia,previously one o Georgia’s biggest trade partners,mainly in agricultural produce. This has delivered asignifcant blow to the local economy, as 54 percento Georgia’s population depend on agriculture or theirlivelihoods. Ination has reached 15 percent, whichdisproportionately harms those with ewer resources. A large percentage o people remain poor. Ofcially athird o the population live in poverty, with 15 percento these living in ‘extreme poverty’. Civil societyorganisations, however, claim that these numbers area raction o the real picture, and have been slashedto portray government progress. The same is true,these groups claim, with unemployment fgures. Whilethe ofcial unemployment rate stands at 12.6 percent,many experts argue that real fgure is dramaticallyhigher, up to 60 percent in rural areas. Georgia’seconomic liberalisation has deepened inequalities.There is a clear divide between urban and rural dwellersin terms o access to resources, essential services andopportunities. In 2007, an average o 87 percent obenefciaries’ income was spent on ood, medicine andmedical services alone.
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Oxam has been working in Georgia since 1993 invarious interventions, initially working with humanitarianprogrammes to assist Internally Displaced People(IDPs), but later ocusing on development programmesin health, livelihoods, Disaster Risk Reduction, andinstitutional accountability. Since 2002, Oxam hasbeen ocusing on a governance programme that workswith communities to develop their understanding odemocratic processes and practices and to build theircapacity to take part in democratic local governance.These initiatives included training communities tounderstand, analyse and monitor budgets and tounderstand their civic rights. As a result o Oxam’swork, public budget monitoring committees wereset up. These committees were designed to bothregularly track local budgets and to present communitypriorities to local government to inuence spending.To complement this work, Oxam worked with localgovernment ofcials, strengthening their understandingo the responsibilities that they hold and the legalenvironment in which they operate.
Rationale for implementing a socialprotection programme
 Although market liberalisation and globalisation otrade has boosted economic development in Georgia,it has also widened the gap between the rich and poorand between men and women. Existing protectivemeasures, such as public welare and redistributivemechanisms, have been inadequate in the ace o risingincome inequalities.In the post-soviet era, Georgia inherited a categorybased targeting social aid system.
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In this context,people received social aid according to their householdstatus, or example as IDPs, the chronically ill or people
Reversing extreme inequality is a key strategy in overcoming poverty and suering, enablingrights, and achieving social justice.
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Well-designed social protection programmes can allow peoplethat are in transitory poverty
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to seize opportunities created by economic growth and at the same time,protect such individuals and households rom alling back into poverty. This support is especiallyimportant or enabling poor women to overcome the multiple barriers that they ace in participating andleading in economic and political lie.
Oxam’s Programme Policy Guidelines on Social Protection

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