No doubt, it is difficult to abandon the Soviet system of governance in which self-government serves only as crutches for the omnipotent state apparatus on the local level. Pyramid of local governance, built up upside down, squashes elected officials, making them the "wheels and cogs" in the state mechanism.

" /> PARLIAMENTARY MAGAZINE "VICHE" about DESPRO: "Well, what it should seem so special about water?"

PARLIAMENTARY MAGAZINE "VICHE" about DESPRO: "Well, what it should seem so special about water?"

No doubt, it is difficult to abandon the Soviet system of governance in which self-government serves only as crutches for the omnipotent state apparatus on the local level. Pyramid of local governance, built up upside down, squashes elected officials, making them the "wheels and cogs" in the state mechanism.
In 1812 Alexander I, urging the Cossacks to fight Napoleon promised a sweet reward – to return self-government. Hoping for liberation from serfdom, the peasants began to sign up en masse into militia. However, after defeating the French, only the Don Cossacks were granted freedom, while Ukrainians were returned to the servitude. It will take decades before Russian Prime Minister Stolypin P. dares to pass certain credentials to zemstvo of small towns and volosts. However, it was too late: revolution was long overdue.

However, the current authority should hurry up for another reason: villages are rapidly disappearing from the map of Ukraine, without ever receiving such benefits of civilization as gas, sewerage, water supply, except for “Illich bulb (electricity)”. Especially, those funds from the state budget necessary for the reform of local self-government, according to experts, are really insignificant. For example, in the Russian Empire zemstvo functioned on the principle of self-support without receiving any subsidies from the government. The key point is to establish the self-sufficient communities, which would solve the majority of local affairs, provide administrative services that now belong to the authority of the rayon government.

We have wasted many years while sitting and waiting for "Washington with new and righteous law": a number of top officials tried, but could not get the administrative-territorial reform started. When in 2005 President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko called for help to "Varangians", the response came from the Swiss: they arrived not only with knowledge but also with money. Decentralization Support in Ukraine project, which operated for two years, proved to be successful, as foreigners cooperating with authorities distributed funds independently - without intermediaries.

At a first glance, it is generally about a small amount – UAN 7 million. However, as the project demonstrated, the strength of the community is not in the foreign money, but in the ability to unite around a common cause. Community leaders and experts shared their stories about such cases during a recent round table in the office of the newspaper "Dzerkalo Tyzhnia (Mirror weekly)".

- Rural water supply systems were extremely worn out, as they served for 40-50 years. Therefore, water was delivered to some villages once a week, and then for two hours only - said Dilyaver HAYREDINOV, Deputy Head of the Nyzhnyogirskyi Rayon State Administration of the AR Crimea.

In the result of the Swiss-Ukrainian program of decentralized services provision DESPRO at the Nyzhnyogirskyi rayon about 100 km of water supply system was constructed, two dozens of water towers were replaced. At first, people did not believe in the good intentions of their benefactors, so they did not rush with investing money earned by the sweat of their brow into joint projects. The attitude of some authorities, which attempted to collect taxes from the funds that came under the international program and delayed the registration of the community organizations, was discouraging as well. However, in three rayons of AR Crimea 20 projects, mainly related to the water supply, succeeded in their implementation.

Apparently, water is very important, especially in the southern regions. Thus, after constructing water supply system, residents of five villages of the Nyzhnyogirskyi rayon began to cultivate vegetables. The Canadian program helped them to establish sales far beyond the Crimean peninsula. Now every village specializes in growing some vegetables; servicing cooperatives, which provide centralized services to households, were created. In the homes of the rural residents such “urban” conveniences as washing machines began to make appearances. The need to become labor migrants or to look for happiness in the cities was eliminated. In the villages football teams are established; folk art groups flourish.

After perceiving the taste of life Crimean residents started to lay natural gas pipes: 12 villages of the Nyzhnyogirskyi district already have blue gas. "It comes to the point when community is collecting three million of its own money to build the natural gas pipeline. We ask only one thing from the state, please do not impede. Often we face bureaucratic obstacles, some issues are not regulated by the authorities"- says Dilyaver Hayredinov.

Swiss had implemented projects in water supply in Vinnytsya region as well. The first phase of the network system in Nova Hreblya of the Kalynivka rayon had to deliver water to 30 households, but it took a long time to persuade village residents due to their frustration. In addition, homes here are located at a considerable distance from each other, thus increasing the value even more. "After the equipment arrived at the construction site, many village residents immediately joined the project, they willingly helped to carry out various works," - boasts a former village head Vira HONCHARUK.

Water supply system in Nova Hreblya cost UAN 160 thousand: development of project design and budget estimate documents, repairing of unkept wells and water tower, connecting to a power supply, replacement of electric pump, laying the water supply pipeline. 75 percent of funds were received from the DESPRO program, 15% were provided by the rayon authorities and the community collected by UAN 1,5 thousand from each household. Noteworthy: personal contribution provides village residents with caring attitude for communications.

After the water arrived at one corner, the residents of another one decided that they are no worse than their neighbors are and constructed the water supply pipeline as well. By now, the third project received support from the DESPRO in Nova Hreblya. It is indicative that at once townspeople started to move to the remote village for residence. In addition, community of Nova Hreblya has acquired the experience of self-organization long before cooperating with the Swiss partners, while participating in the connecting the village to the natural gas pipeline and arranging the territory of the local nursing home "Coziness".

In Tulchyn rayon of the Vinnytsya oblast 9 DESPRO projects were implemented and three other applications are pending. The Head of the Organization Department of Tulchyn Rayon State Administration Oleh NOVIKOV emphasizes that the development of settlements largely depends on the village management, which, unfortunately, often lacks proper professional skills, managerial experience. "After being elected as village heads they do not know where to start, instead of looking for investors, applying to the international funds for grants, they are waiting in vain for the handouts from the state budget. Honestly, in the result of the poor level of the staff qualification, not all projects implemented in the rayon were successful", - Oleh Novikov criticizes the village heads.

Pavlo KOZYRYEV, Mayor of the city Ukrayinka in Kyiv region, strongly disagrees with this view. According to him, rayon bodies of the state government have much more leverage than the village councils. When asked about the personnel quantity in the Tulchyn State Administration, O. Novikov responded: 125 people. Famously, village council staff often consists of two employees: the head and the secretary.

As the Chairman of the Association of Small Cities of Ukraine P. Kozyryev knows firsthand about the poor level of skills of the locally elected leadership, therefore, he is always concerned about training of colleagues. In his opinion, the problem becomes especially acute after the local authority elections. The recent elections are no exception, while about a half of the village heads have changed. "It is very important to provide knowledge at the start, therefore we already launched preparations for the Sixth Conference of the Small Cities" - emphasized P. Kozyryev.

In his view, the idea of developing the training center "Modern City" in c.Ukrayinka, which was launched by the Association of Ukrainian Cities and the Ministry of Education and Science, should be revived again. It is planned to familiarize local self-government officials with the modern methods of city management, which have been tested in the Ukrainian context. P. Kozyryev listed small cities that have considerable achievements in the area of the self-government: Slavutych, Komsomolsk, Dolyna, Novohrad-Volynskyi, Voznesensk.

Moreover, c.Ukrayinka recently received a grant from the European Union that will allow this city from Obuhiv region to share its management experience with four Ukrainian cities, in addition to the one from Georgia and one from Belarus. Secret of success of the city Ukrayinka is in implementation of the outstanding development strategy. It is noteworthy that until recently the city had monoprofile: it entirely depended on the local thermoelectric power station. Currently, revenues from TPS do not exceed 20 percent of the city budget.

City Slavutych, which is one of the current leaders among the small cities in the country, once faced the same problem. After closing of the Chernobyl NPP Mayor Volodymyr UDOVYCHENKO headed towards establishing favorable conditions for starting private business. A lot was achieved within the framework of the international projects: UNESCO financed some of them.

On the occasion, during the Round Table Slavutych mayor shared his views about the newly approved tax "constitution". According to his estimates, bodies of local self-government should not expect significant improvement of the financial situation. "Slavutych city budget, which now stands at about 50 million, will increase only by 3.5 million. This is a tiny raise"- said V. Udovychenko.

Renowned expert in local self-government Yuriy HANUSHCHAK associates future growth of villages and small towns with the territorial-administrative reform, in the result of which viable communities should come out. "Wardens will provide services, while their authorities will be comparable to the authorities of the village heads. They will emerge in every village"- specifies the expert.

Y. Hanushchak knows what he says, while he is one of the ci-devant: in the previous government he served as the Director of the Department of Local Government and the Administrative-Territorial Structure at the Ministry for Regional Development and Building of Ukraine. Large-scale modeling of the future 1400 communities - city, town and village, was carried out under his direct supervision. All of them will have police, treasury, social insurance office, the post of fire safety. Average distance to the center of the community will comprise 10 kilometers. It is envisaged to transform current 498 rayons into 100 and to establish medical districts within the limits of each of them. However, the new Minister V. Yatsuba for some reason called the predecessors’ developments as "unsustainable", although international experts rated them very highly. Y. Hanushchak on his part, criticized inactivity of V. Yatsuba.

Former Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Construction Anatoliy TKACHUK believes that no one will be able to stop the reform now. "Firstly, there takes place an unguided process when village residents abandon the protection of village councils and independently set up committees to deal with urgent problems of their corner of the village in general. Secondly, there are many village councils, especially in the southern Ukraine, which include up to 7 villages. It is impossible to manage this formation by old methods, therefore informal wardens, collaborating with the heads of village councils, emerge in the villages"- argues A. Tkachuk.

The expert described the positive experience of development of the master plans for villages. Money for implementing these works within the four village councils were given, certainly, by foreigners. Local entrepreneurs became interested in this initiative and co-invested their own funds into development of the planning schemes, which reserved space for industrial and recreational areas, roads, etc. Later in the pilot villages small manufacturing facilities have emerged, one investor started to build an elevator. Therefore, little money in the rural area is capable of accomplishing great things. Who after all this will dare to say that the peasants do not have sagacity?

In pursuing reform of the administrative-territorial structure, the central government must give up part of its own authorities by transferring them to the local level. Although, this test is not for the weak-spirited.