Successful Advocacy Initiative Enhances Public Transportation Accessibility in Dmanisi
Dmanisi municipality has long suffered from a lack of public transport, which creates significant challenges for locals needing to travel from villages to the center of the municipality. This issue was raised repeatedly in the Free Taxi program, created by local CSO Meeting Place to offer residents free rides and help amplify their voices. With support from the USAID Civil Society Engagement Program, the riders were asked to use their time in the taxi to discuss the most pressing local issues they face. With no local media, these rides, which were recorded and posted on Facebook, served as a tool to raise local issues into the public discourse.
On October 11, 2023, the Meeting Place and Salam, another CSO supported by the USAID Civil Society Engagement Program that is using citizen engagement techniques to mobilize and empower citizens to advocate for issues in Kvemo Kartli, submitted a petition to the local government. This petition, which was signed by 312 citizens and was only the second petition ever submitted to the local government, requested the introduction of municipal transport between Dmanisi city and the surrounding villages. The petition authors attended a hearing and persuaded the local Sakrebulo to consider this citizen-identified need. In response to their advocacy work, the local government announced that from February 1, 2024, Dmanisi residents will enjoy free municipal transport between the city and 24 villages.