Geoff was invited by Peter Schubeler, a GPA Associate and long term colleague, to contribute to a National Workshop on Housing Practices at the mountain village of Sighnaghi, near the Capital of Tbilisi. The workshop was funded by the Swiss Development Cooperation Agency (SDC) at the request of the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation to discuss issues and options relating to housing for internally displaced persons (IDPs) following the conflict in South Ossetia with Russia in 2008. This resulted in the displacement of 40,000 people, many of whom are living in poor housing conditions in and around Tbilisi.
The workshop provided an opportunity to link housing policies for IDPs with the broader issues of social housing, specially given the large stock of privatised departments from the Soviet era, which need upgrading and refurbishment. Geoff made three presentations on housing in a market economy, options for innovation in housing provision based on international experience and issues relating to the implementation of policy objectives. Discussions identified a number of approaches which participants from the Ministry and other government departments selected for further consideration.