USAID Launches New Program to Build Georgia’s Resilience Against Disinformation

Monday, September 28, 2020

USAID’s new Georgia Information Integrity Program builds resilience against disinformation, resulting in a stronger, more democratic society that is self-reliant and empowered to pursue its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. 

USAID/Georgia announced the Georgia Information Integrity Program, a new five-year initiative designed to help Georgia build societal resilience against disinformation. Through 2025, USAID is partnering with the Government of Georgia and others to develop a comprehensive, “whole-of-society” approach to protecting Georgia’s information space.  USAID will also support  a network of domestic organizations who actively combat disinformation to ensure that Georgia’s citizens have access to fact-based information about key issues.  By engaging these domestic partners, USAID is able to leverage local expertise and ensure domestic ownership of development outcomes.  

“Strengthening Georgia’s resilience against malign influence -- including disinformation - is literally the first major objective in USAID’S new five-year strategy for Georgia,” said USAID/Georgia Mission Director Peter Wiebler.  “Through our new Information Integrity program, we will work with the Government of Georgia, civil society, media, academia, and the private sector to jointly develop new and innovative tools for protecting Georgia’s information space and, ultimately, protecting Georgia’s democracy.”

The Georgia Information Integrity Program starts from the premise that, to be effective and sustainable, efforts to combat disinformation must actively build the institutions, practices, and networks that underpin societal resilience.  The program encourages innovative ways to build resilience, such as partnering with Georgian organizations to map sources and measure impacts of disinformation, disseminate fact-based messages, and co-create new tools and methods for responding to disinformation.

Building New Partnerships with Georgian Organizations

The Georgia Information Integrity Program is implemented by a consortium of domestic and international organizations managed by Zinc Network Limited.  These include the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC), a leading Georgian public opinion research agency; the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, which identifies and exposes sources of disinformation through open source research; Startup Grind, a Georgian network of tech innovators; Leavingstone, a creative agency with expertise in digital content creation, influencer marketing, and advertising; and Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios, an international design agency specializing in innovative approaches to public engagement.  

USAID’s Growing Emphasis on Building Resilience, Countering Malign Influence

The Georgia Information Integrity Program exemplifies USAID’s sharpened focus on building “resilience” – helping Georgia build the institutions, infrastructure, and practices necessary to protect its society from malign influence, including disinformation, cyberattacks against key infrastructure, Russia’s continued occupation of Georgian territory, and the consequences of Georgia’s continued economic dependence on the Russian market.  USAID’s new Country Development Cooperation Strategy for 2020-2025 prioritizes building Georgia’s resilience against malign influence as a pathway to self-reliance. 

The new program is designed and implemented within USAID’s Countering Malign Kremlin Influence (CMKI) framework launched in 2019 to address Russia’s ongoing efforts to undermine territorial integrity, democratic development, and Euro-Atlantic integration in frontline states across Europe and Eurasia.  The program directly advances a core objective of the CMKI framework in Georgia – mitigating the Kremlin’s manipulation of the information space.

 

Last updated: October 02, 2020

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