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Tbilisi. CARE International in the Caucasus and World Vision Georgia conducted a joint rapid assessment of 11 communities in the Akhmeta, Telavi and Gurjaani municipalities of Kakheti on July 20th is said in the joint statement of the organizations. "The heavy rains, strong winds, hail and flooding that occurred overnight across Georgia in the early hours of Thursday, July 19 wrecked havoc on housing and crop lands. CARE and World Vision estimate the dramatic effects of the event to be the largest disaster in Georgia since the August 2008 conflict", is said in the statement.
The government of Georgia expects the total cost of the damages at 150 million GEL, with 20,000 households affected and 22,000 hectares of arable land damaged in Kakheti alone.
CARE and World Vision traveled to the disaster-affected areas in Kakheti to conduct interviews directly with local authorities and community members. The aim was to conduct this review as a supplement to governmental assessment. It should be noted the Lagodekhi municipality was not covered in the research. A similar report will cover rapid assessment of the disaster affected areas of the Samtskhe- Javakheti region.
The government of Georgia is active in the areas visited and focusing on road clean-up, infrastructure rehabilitation, and tree removal. Further, the government has started to provide fertilizer and pesticides to aide the preservation of damaged plants and as well as executing a compensation scheme for lost agricultural outputs, is stressed in the statement. As it is noted in the statement, compensation is a good measure as it will meet the current cash needs of affected households, but it does not factor in the catastrophic financial setback of losing multiple harvests due to damage to grapevines and orchard trees. CARE and World Vision find this response can be further tailored to specific cases across the region based on need and in consideration of the longer-term impact of the disaster on vulnerable households.
While visiting one family in the Kakheti region on July 22, whose vineyard was destroyed by the hail, PM Vano Merabishvili said that on top of already announced compensations and aid the government was also considering distribution of wine to the affected households from September. He, however, also said that despite all the efforts undertaken by the authorities, the government would not be able to fully compensate for the inflicted damage, civil.ge agency reports.
President Saakashvili said on July 20, that the government "will spend probably hundreds of millions" for relief efforts.
Bidzina Ivanishvili, a leader of opposition Georgian Dream coalition, who said would pay GEL 10 million from his multi-million fine to help fill state coffers as his contribution to relief efforts, visited some of the affected communities in the Kakheti region on July 22; he said government's plan to provide from GEL 300 to GEL 1,500 in compensation for lost crops was not enough.
New Rights leader Davit Gamkrelidze was also in the region on July 22 helping some locals in cleaning up works. He called on the authorities to consider providing tax breaks for small business in Kakheti.