Roma’s life in Georgia

16 Jun, 2011

In 2010 the OSGF’s Civil Society Support Program supported research titled “Roma and Moldovan Ethnic Groups in Georgia – Problems of Integration and Civil Participation”. The study was undertaken by the team of Georgian researchers led by George Sordia with participation of students from the University of Georgia. The study found that there are approximately 750 Roma and 800 Moldovans currently living in Georgia. During the field work, the researchers came across the group of 150 migrant Kurdish speaking people living in Kutaisi and Tbilisi. Despite their ethnic, social and linguistic differences these groups are all referred as “Roma” – a common name for marginalized ethnic groups living in isolation from larger society in Georgia.  
Roma and Moldovans are amongst the most marginalized and socially excluded ethnic communities in the country. Extreme poverty, unemployment, limited access to health care and education, isolation, lack of Georgian language skills, absence of proper documentation, including identity cards and passports- are the key problems they are facing. The level of their engagement in civic life is very low, major economic or social activities include begging and petty trade. The socio-economic conditions for these groups differ: extreme marginalization was observed in the settlements near Telavi and Kutaisi (cities the East and West of Georgia). Somewhat better is the situation in Lotkini and Samgori (districts of Tbilisi), where Roma are engaged in petty trade through which they are able to support their families. In Leninovka and Kobuleti (regions of Georgia) where community mobilization, civil development and access to education is better, these groups have different needs. Engagement in trade and generating income are no longer their only goals, they also want quality education for their children and acquisition of professional skills to find employment. The awareness on importance of education and training was raised by the international donor organizations implementing education support programs in these regions.

In 2011, European Center on Minority Issues-Caucasus with the OSGF’s financial support is implementing project “Support and development of Roma community in Georgia”. The project will foster the development of marginalized communities, assist in economic and civil integration of Roma community, strengthen professional skills among community members and support cultural diversity. The activities implemented within the framework of the project include the following:
∙ Series of trainings in Kakheti and Adjara regions to develop professional skills within the community
∙ Courses in math and Georgian language for adults
∙ Seminars on civil society organizations: their roles and functions
∙ Trainings for capacity building of Roma NGOs in Dedoplistskaro and Kobuleti
∙ Field visits of Roma communities from Gachiani and Samgori to Kobuleti and Dedoplistskaro to share experiences of local NGOs
∙ Concluding conference in Tbilisi, involving Roma community and NGO representatives as well as organizations working on issues related to the integration of ethnic minorities and human and minority rights.
As a result of the project implementation  50 representatives of Roma community will acquire professional skills, and improve their employment opportunities, Roma communities maintain and promote their unique culture; approximately 60 participants of the training programs will improve their knowledge of math and Georgian language; the cooperation between the Roma communities in different parts of Georgia will be strengthened; ethnic minority NGO capacities will be improved and public awareness raised among the population of Georgia about Roma people and their needs.


 Photos by Georgian Photographer Natela Grigalashvili on Roma Festival in Tbilisi.