Civic Campaign to Save Vanishing Village of Amgha
EWMI ACCESS supports the Kakheti-based CSO Center for Civic Activities (CCA) and the media-portal mtisambebi.geto empower communities in the mountainous regions of Eastern Georgia and help them solve their major problems. For this purpose, CCA and mtisambebi.ge travel to the most remote and under-represented parts of Georgia, study the problems there, and produce valuable media products which are circulated through online and social media. Extensive media coverage is often followed by outreach and advocacy campaigns to help resolve key issues.
On July 24, mtisambebi.ge launched one such campaign dedicated to saving the vanishing village of Amgha, the last inhabited village in Arkhoti Valley (Khevsureti) at the Russia-Georgia border. This strategic village is now almost entirely abandoned with just two families living there permanently. In order to bring life back to Amgha, only twenty buildings need to be rebuilt, six of which are monuments of cultural heritage. Revitalizing Amgha will bring life to the rest of the valley as well: residents will return to the village, develop tourism, and generate income.
Mtisambebi.ge circulated an online petition requesting the government fully rehabilitate the village and collected one thousand signatures in one day. At the same time, a series of videos and multimedia stories with the hash tag #SaveAmghawere released on the Internet and social media. The stories featured residents of Arkhoti Valley, as well as prominent writers and experts who spoke about the history of Amgha and the importance of the village in preserving cultural and historic heritage. The multimedia stories sparked wider discussions on social media and drew the attention of the central government: the Prime Minister of Georgia visited Amgha on August 15 and pledged to rehabilitate the main buildings in Amgha, as well as to repair the damaged hydro-power plant in Arkhoti Valley. According to him, the government has already allocated funds in the 2020 state budget for the rehabilitation works.
CCA and mtisambebi.ge are continuing this advocacy campaign to further promote and support the vanishing villages in Khevsureti. As the next step, the first mountain festival, which will bring together folklore groups and artists from all over Georgia, will take place on August 31 in Amgha.