No sooner had images of a hippopotamus lost on a central street in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi gone viral this summer than offers of financial help for recovery from the city’s June 13-14 flood began to pour in. Yet, today, with well over $8.3 million raised from a variety of sources, questions have surfaced about how transparently and effectively the government is managing the money.
Officially, the flood took the lives of 19 people, displaced 105 families, killed over half of the Tbilisi zoo’s population and damaged about 40 roads. A draft World Bank assessment EurasiaNet.org received from the Tbilisi city government estimates that a minimum of $119.3 million is needed for the reconstruction of housing, roads, bridges, water management and the zoo.
That sum amounts to roughly 3.6 percent of the country’s 2015 budget. Already, a budget reduction has been announced.
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Paul Rimple is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi. Caucasus News Editor Elizabeth Owen added reporting to this story.