Promoting municipalities, reducing distance to citizens

Project description

Title: Supporting the decentralisation reform in Ukraine (UDU/U-LEAD with Europe: Phase II)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Ukraine
Lead executing agency: Ministry for Communities and Territories Development of Ukraine (MinRegion)
Overall term: 2015 to 2023

Context

In 2014, Ukrainians from all social groups demonstrated for increased democracy and the right to self-determination. Since what is referred to as the ‘Revolution of Dignity’, the Ukrainian Government has been investing in decentralisation and promoting local self-government in order to strengthen democracy. At the heart of this reform are nearly 1,500 newly created municipalities (or hromadas), which improve the government’s ability to respond. In addition, budget and tax legislation has been adapted to enable municipalities to generate increased revenue and to strengthen municipal financial systems. Since the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2019, the new government has been committed to accelerating change.

However, it is not yet implementing the decentralisation reform in a sustainable manner. The employees in the administrations do not have all the necessary skills to take on the new tasks. There is also a lack of financial resources to deal with bottlenecks. In addition, the Ukrainian Government should communicate the objectives and benefits of the reform more widely among the population and coordinate the reform process more intensively.

Objective

Local authorities respond faster and more effectively to the needs of citizens.

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Approach

The programme helps to implement decentralisation and thus improve the lives of citizens in all regions of the country.

For this purpose, it organises seminars, advisory services and study trips for government and administrative staff. With a view to promoting regional development, the participants learn to carry out land-use planning, organise schooling and health care and develop local tourism and economic potential. They also gain a knowledge of how to streamline communication in administration and improve budget management. Moreover, through concrete financial planning, the programme aims to provide the necessary financial resources for public services. Participants also learn how municipalities can involve citizens in their processes.

The programme provides many of its services through 24 regional offices in all regions, including the government-controlled areas in Luhansk and Donetsk, and a European Project Office in Mariupol.

U-LEAD with Europe is an initiative that is cofinanced by the German Federal Government and the European Union (EU), and supported by contributions from Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia and Slovenia.

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Results

Since 2016, more than 8,000 training courses, workshops, conferences and consultations have been organised in Ukraine. They have reached around 200,000 participants (as of January 2021), more than 50 per cent of whom were women. 81 per cent of the participants stated that their newly acquired knowledge helps them to perform their tasks more effectively. For example, many of them find it helpful to use new instruments, for example in the area of land-use planning. By mid-2020, up to 750 municipalities had demonstrably adjusted their internal processes in order to be able to exercise their increased powers under the decentralisation reform. Online courses to strengthen local administration and service delivery are available on the u-learn.org.ua platform. So far, more than 1,000 certificates have been issued to students from the municipalities.

U-LEAD has organised around 1,000 dialogue events for citizens and implemented the ‘I am Hromada’ campaign aiming to convince citizens of the benefits of voluntary municipality amalgamation.

Response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Supported by the EU, U-LEAD and the Public Health Centre of Ukraine developed and distributed 500,000 newspapers, 100,000 leaflets and 45,000 posters to more than 800 rural municipalities to raise awareness of COVID-19. In cooperation with Caritas Ukraine, U-LEAD procured packages containing necessary medical equipment and delivered them to more than 900 municipalities in need. Eleven regional manufacturers were commissioned to produce more than 300,000 face masks. Information material was distributed to 1,175 municipalities to provide logistical support for holding municipal elections during the coronavirus crisis. In addition, 18 webinars were conducted with nearly 2,000 participants from across Europe to provide information about handling the coronavirus.

Date: March 2021

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