In May, the Center for Civic Activities (CCA) received a Rapid Response Grant from the EWMI-implemented USAID Civil Society Engagement Program to mobilize citizens in Racha and protect the more than 100,000 hectares of the Racha-Lechkhumi forest that were auctioned off by the Georgian government in April. The auction, which had only one participant, resulted in a 49-year lease of the land for the purpose of developing a hunting farm.
In response to the lack of government transparency regarding the auction and its failure to engage impacted communities in the process, the Center for Civic Activities, in partnership with media portal Mountain News (mtisamebebi.ge), the Racha Community-Based Organization, and the Green Alternative, began an advocacy campaign to hold the government accountable for its decision. The campaign is also advocating for the establishment of a national park in Racha that includes the recently auctioned territory, a process that was initiated by the government more than 20 years ago and promised again most recently in 2019.
As part of its activities, the project team will hold a door-to-door campaign in 30 villages of Racha, informing locals about the terms of the Racha auction and the benefits of establishing a national park. In parallel, the Center for Civic Activities will conduct legislative work for the establishment of a national park and cooperate with members of parliament as well as interested local and international organizations. CCA is also in the process of initiating a court dispute to obtain public information related to the sale of the hunting license and will organize a press tour in Racha for national media outlets to ensure that citizens are informed about the issue and how it may impact them.