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Filed under: Development Development 2.0 Gender equality Guest posts Social inclusion

Over 2,000 Georgians have voiced their top development priorities since the beginning of the My World Campaign in Georgia.

At Elva Community Engagement, it’s these kinds of results that motivate us to keep pushing the boundaries of using mobile and online technologies in development.

Elva’s platform allows people to vote online as well as by SMS text message. This allows UNDP to target a much broader part of Georgia’s population - particularly in rural areas where internet penetration is comparatively low, but where post-2015 development goals are arguably the most relevant.

To engage citizens to vote by SMS, UNDP is running a My World television campaign on Georgia’s most popular channels since TV is the main source of information for both rural and urban citizens. UNDP is also organizing events at youth festivals and universities to directly engage people in the SMS campaign.

Once a citizen submits an SMS message to the central My World phone number, they are guided through a series of simple Georgian-language SMS questions to vote on the development issues that are most important to them.

Their votes are then automatically forwarded to the Elva platform, and reflected on interactive maps and data visualizations.

coloured map of Georgia according to citizen development priorities

Citizen priorities by region of the country – an insight for policy makers and development organizations alike

First of all, it seems clear Georgia has left behind a lot of issues plaguing it in previous years. Still notorious for its frequent power outages in the early 2000s, issues like reliable energy at home, phone and internet access or better transport and roads are no longer on the top of peoples’ minds.

Across all ages, gender and geographical regions, Georgians worry mostly about:

  1. Unemployment
  2. Education and
  3. Health care.
Visualization of development priorities identified by male and female citizens in Georgia

Another valuable insight: The difference (and similarities) in priorities of women and men

At the moment, these concerns are arguably keeping Georgians from prioritizing other important issues including:

  • Political freedoms (10th)
  • Wildlife protection (11th)
  • Climate change (15th)

Equality between men and women also ranks comparatively low – though this concern is significantly higher with women (9th) than it is with men (14th).

All in all, we are getting a good overview of Georgia’s post-2015 development priorities. The next obvious question is: how to respond.

At Elva, that question is always in the top of our minds. Our main priority is to stimulate organizations to enter into a dialogue with people that provided their feedback.

Engaging communities in a mutually beneficial dialogue increases their sense of ownership and will stimulate effective cooperation between implementing organizations and their beneficiaries.

For the My World survey, we will follow up with citizens to find out what challenges in their communities have prompted them to chose certain priorities, and to provide us with more information about them.

>> See how the United Nations in Georgia is following up with citizens

 

We will also make it possible for people to submit brief photo and video reports on the issues in their communities – for publishing on the My World Georgia website. They will also be shared with decision makers to enhance their understanding of local needs.

Elva is designed to stimulate this kind of two-way communication within development and humanitarian action in every corner of the world. The software used for My World Georgia is open source and can be applied in any My World country.

Stay tuned for updates!

Georgian man inputting text into security SMS

Elva also teamed up with UNDP on an SMS security system: Volunteers from each of the 16 villages along the boundary line with South Ossetia send weekly information to a text messaging service and report on incidents as they happen.