Forum of DESPRO partners conducts annual summing-up of its activities
2014 was a decisive one not only for the country, but for DESPRO as well. Thanks to historical changes in the country, the results of the seven years’ work of the project at the local level got a chance to be institutionally implemented in the national scale. DESPRO activity during the previous years was dedicated to preparation of reforms, but the real opportunity for their implementation appeared only in 2014, as a result of the Revolution of Dignity. The actual start of the transformation will take place after Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopts the package of normative acts, as well as conceptual principles of decentralization, local self-governance reformation and territorial organization of authority, developed under DESPRO support.
DESPRO facilitates preparation of local self-government representatives to the reform
DESPRO experts conduct ongoing analysis of conceptual, strategic principles of local self-governance development. Based on the results of this research, educational and training programmes for representatives of self-government bodies are developed, which will become the key link in the implementation of reforms.
As part of this activity, the first School of local self-governance started working. The programme is comprised of two stages: in-class studies and the remote online learning course. Village and settlement council heads, mayors of small cities and raion council heads from different regions of Ukraine participated in the training. Cooperation with the All-Ukrainian associations (Ukrainian association of rayon and oblast councils, All-Ukrainian association of village and rural-type settlement councils, as well as Association of small cities of Ukraine) is an important contribution to the training.
The scale of transformations witnessed in the country calls for a new approach to governance. DESPRO opens new opportunities to try the most innovative methods of learning and working for the project’s partners from associations of local self-governance bodies. Particularly, the project provides broad support for creation of online platforms for exchanging knowledge and experience in different spheres. Thanks to DESPRO, a set of online courses for local self-government practitioners and master students of “Public administration” and “Public service” specialties were developed and launched. Under the project’s support, an online platform “Community of practice: Innovations and best practices in local self-government”, uniting more than 3 thousand participants from all over Ukraine, has been functioning for four years already.
Public discussion contributes to involvement of different population groups in the implementation of the reform. DESPRO conducted a set of educational activities and discussions in different regions of Ukraine – Ivano-Frankivsk, Zhitomir, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts. Active citizens (business representatives, local self-governance practitioners, experts from non-governmental organizations, media), who are eager to make a difference, participate in these activities. Results of their work will be included (as recommendations) into the package of draft laws on local self-government reform.
Vyacheslav Negoda, Deputy Minister of regional development, construction, and housing and communal services of Ukraine: "We are working on one and the same idea, because development of local self-governance is our common task. We have no other chance, no other choice, except implementation of these reforms. It is important not to loose optimism and persistence, in order to implement them”.
DESPRO contributes to preparation of communities’ representatives to the reform by improving the infrastructure of villages, settlements and small cities
DESPRO gained decentralization experience at the local level and in communities. The issue of readiness of communities of village, settlement and small town level for the reform is extremely relevant. Implementation of projects on decentralized provision of water supply, waste disposal and water disposal services facilitates social mobilization of citizens, prepares them for participation in decision-making process and in life quality improvement, as well as form an active civil position. Since 2007 DESPRO contributed to implementation of 104 projects in the area of rural water supply in partner regions. The general cost of co-funded projects amounted to 56.6 million UAH, including 23.3 million UAH of community contributions, 15.5 million UAH of local budget contributions, and 17.8 million UAH of DESPRO contributions. High-quality communal services were provided to more than 94 thousand persons.
The key advantage of cooperation with DESPRO for communities is methodological, legal, and informational support, rather than just project co-funding. Under the project’s support, village activists launched community-based organizations, thus creating the opportunity for implementation of different projects both in cooperation with DESPRO and independently.
DESPRO also facilitates the implementation of two pilot projects on domestic waste disposal in Vinnytsia and Sumy oblasts. Implementation of the projects begins with water disposal in villages and small cities. In this way the project prepares the background for the reform at community level, because the public understands the advantages of decentralization.
According to Guido Beltrani, the director of Swiss bureau for cooperation, Swiss Confederation and DESPRO will continue to support the development of reforms. The reforms should be implemented in the dialogue format, involving all parties at all levels, while there is a strong hope that implementation of the reform will contribute to de-escalation of the conflict in the East.
DESPRO contributes to preparation of broad population groups for the reform
DESPRO takes active part in educational and informative work on promotion of the reform in the framework of Government initiative “Decentralization of authority”. A workgroup, which unites the best media-experts from governmental bodies, business sector, donor organizations and scientific institutions, functions on the project’s basis. Keeping in mind the results of public opinion research, the workgroup (in close cooperation with Minregion) implements the national informational and educational campaign. The goal of this campaign is public support of the reform. Particularly, DESPRO took the responsibility for creating informational content, release of informational materials and publications on decentralization for different target audiences, dissemination of information through social networks and online discussion sites.