Tbilisi – “Migration has effected every village in our municipality - many are almost empty. Before, only one family member would emigrate; now, whole families are leaving.”
That lament at a recent IOM workshop in rural Georgia, where some municipalities are seeing depopulation of up to 40 per cent, is increasingly common.
To counter this trend, IOM is focusing on using the economic and social potential of migration for local economic development by strengthening the connection between the diaspora and returned migrants.
A series of workshops with regional administrations and municipalities in the worst-hit provinces of Kakheti and Imereti explored how to leverage migration to boost the local economy. More than 50 people from 20 municipalities participated.
“Both these regions have great potential for developing agriculture, tourism and the service sectors, providing opportunities for returned migrants and diaspora to engage professionally and contribute to local development," noted IOM Georgia Chief of Mission Sanja Celebic-Lukovac.??
The workshops were a follow-up to basic training courses organized by IOM for the local authorities of the Kakheti and Imereti regions in June 2018. IOM will continue facilitating the dialogue with the support of the European Union and active involvement of the Secretariat of the State Commission on Migration Issues and Diaspora Relations Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia.?