Polish aid improves access to online public services in Georgia’s mountainous regions
The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing restrictions made it difficult for people living in rural mountainous areas to travel to major cities in Georgia in order to deal with administrative matters. Travelling is also advised against due to the risk of a further spread of the virus.
To address this issue, a programme titled “Increasing access to online public services by supporting public libraries in remote mountainous regions of Georgia” was launched.
Co-financed by Polish Aid, and implemented by the Polish Centre for International Aid in cooperation with a local organisation Civitas Georgica and the Georgian Library Association, the project is carried out at local libraries in selected Georgian mountain municipalities: Tianeti, Ambrolauri, Oni, Lentekhi, Tsageri, and Tkibuli.
Under the project, the libraries, apart from lending books, will also help local community members access online public services and deal with administrative matters. To that end, the libraries received computer equipment, printers, routers and furniture necessary to set up designated spaces. Library staff underwent relevant training to improve their computer skills. Due to the pandemic, training courses were partly held remotely via Zoom, and partly as in-person sessions in major cities where regional central libraries are located.
During the courses, the staff learned how to use government websites, such as my.gov.ge, a portal launched for Georgian citizens to facilitate contact with the public administration, handling official matters, submitting documents, as well as filing requests and applications. The librarians learned how to use portals providing social services, educational resources and services, access the resources of the National Statistics Office of Georgia and search for information related to voting. The training also covered using online library sources.
During the final stage of the project, the partner organization staff and employed experts held remote individual consultations with the librarians in order to implement new activities. They helped them to consolidate their new skills and provided guidance in effectively assisting people living in the area to access public services via the Internet. Local community members can learn about the possibility of accessing public services directly from the libraries and their local rcmunebuli (village representatives).
Additionally, disinfectant and personal protective equipment was distributed at the libraries.