for Third Sector Development in Abkhazia
By Roman Dbar
we can begin this topic, it is necessary to understand the term "third
sector," also known as the non-governmental sector. People are involved
in three spheres of social life: The first is the governmental sector; the
second is the commercial sector; and finally, the third sector, which consists
of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The activities of the latter are
not connected to either government or business. So what is the role of the
third sector in contemporary society, and what kinds of people work in this
matter how well the government or commercial sectors function, it is impossible
to satisfy the needs of all members of society and independent groups of citizens.
There are always people who are not included in officially defined spheres.
It is easier to imagine what a successful official or businessman is like
than someone engaged in the third sector. The latter are usually active people
who seek solutions to unusual problems through informal approaches and like
to take initiative. These people tend to have high moral and ethical standards.
does this sector relate to the other two? Under normal circumstances, they
do not work at cross purposes, but supplement one another and are a condition
for a stable society, taking care of the needs of all of its members. The
third sector can ease pressures in society by solving conflicts on various
levels, interpersonal as well as inter-group. Social harmony is always a symbiosis
of its functioning sectors.
seek ways to implement their ideas. Fund raising for such activities is an
art form. There are thousands of funders, from the largest, who every year
grant hundreds of millions of dollars, to the smallest who support projects
of only two to three thousand dollars and even less. To receive a grant is
not easy; it is necessary to learn certain skills. We need to direct Abkhazias
developing private resources to the third sector. The commercial sector, despite
economic difficulties, has responded well to social initiatives. We need such
relationships with others.
the Soviet period, the government funded and controlled what were called public
service organizations. Unfortunately, it has been difficult in these new circumstances
for independent organizations, the new NGOs, to build a third sector that
differs from its Soviet predecessor which was so closely linked to the state.
However, our society needs informal approaches to solve quite a number of
problems generated by the war.
organizations working in Abkhazia are actively exploring entire "unploughed
fields" of endeavor. Clearly, our society cannot consider itself self
sufficient and strong while our disabled and elderly are still dependent on
international organizations. Local NGOs can be most useful helping the aged
and disabled, by assisting with psychological rehabilitation, rebuilding towns
and villages, working on environmental problems, and with children and young
people. Much is to be done in these spheres. NGOs cannot do it alone, but
their contributions can be significant.
objective reasons, development of the third sector in Abkhazia has been slow
* There is poor assimilation of international experience in NGO activity.
* Funds for public service organizations are not geared to assisting NGOs.
* NGOs themselves do not expect and do not ask for funding from these sources.
Furthermore, no accounting system exists for such funding.
* International humanitarian organizations in Abkhazia are not actively involving
local NGOs in solving post-war problems or in transferring their international
experience to local organizations.
* Finally, Abkhaz NGOs face discrimination. They do not have direct access
to international funds.
these circumstances, is creation of a full-fledged third sector in Abkhazia
possible? Yes, it is. We have the prerequisites:
* Abkhazia has a large number of educated and energetic people who can quickly
assimilate international experience.
* On the local level, our society has good mechanisms for self-organization.
* Despite the economic hardships caused by the blockade, a large number of
international organizations are working in Abkhazia; their partnership and
assistance can also guarantee success.
of the main functions of NGO activity in Abkhazia today is to help regulate
conflicts. They seek models of stable relations between Abkhazia and Georgia,
and others in this post-war period. The main orientation of NGOs is to build
a civil society. Our development depends on a law-governed and self-regulating
society capable of solving any problem peacefully.
a third sector in Abkhazia is not a goal in itself, but it is a step towards
a civil society. Elements of civil society have existed in our country throughout
our history. Todays task is to preserve our unique culture and to adapt
the experience of others to form a law-governed society of the 21st century.
Back to previous page