Switching on: EU helps local community brighten its streets

Olga Drozd, Porokhnia village mayor, and Oleksandra Mala, a retired village dweller who participated in the community's co-financing of the project
Olga Drozd, Porokhnia village mayor, and Oleksandra Mala, a retired village dweller who participated in the community’s co-financing of the project

“Community-based approach to local development,” a joint EU/UNDP project, has provided residents of Porokhnia village in Khmelnytskyi oblast with an effective system of street lighting. It has also taught them how to cooperate with donors and save energy.   

As part of the EU-funded and UNDP-run project, Porokhnia village received 80 energy-saving sodium street lamps, lighting up both the main and side streets of the village. To avoid any energy waste, the system is operated automatically, with the lamps turning on at dusk and off at dawn.

“This was our first attempt to participate in a project financed by a donor,” says Olha Drozd, the mayor of Porokhnia village. She adds that the community had previously collected money from its residents and investors to ensure a gas supply and to build a church. The installment of the new system of street lighting, however, could not have been implemented without additional financial resources, Drozd underlined.

According to Ihor Klepach, coordinator of the Khmelnytskyi oblast community resource centre, the EU-funded project allocates up to €8,000 to a micro-project, “under the condition that the donor’s share does not exceed 50% of the total budget.” To assist the Porokhnia village community, the EU granted almost UAH 80,000 (approximately €8,000), which is supplemented by UAH 50,000 from the rayon budget and UAH 8,500 collected by village residents. Local businesses also participated in the installment of the energy efficient street lighting system.

According to Drozd, the village decided to install a new street lighting system after conducting a poll among the residents. They had also proposed renovating an old school. However, with a low number of children and birth rate, the community decided not to invest their money here.

Automatic equipment ensuring that the street lamps turn on at dusk and off at dawn
Automatic equipment ensuring that the street lamps turn on at dusk and off at dawn

The success of the project helped residents overcome negative stereotypes and skeptical attitudes regarding European partnership. Oleksandra Mala, a retired village resident who contributed financially to the project, says that people in the village first “did not believe that somebody cares about our problems.” “Now we have light on our streets which is needed primarily by our grandchildren,” she concludes.

This experience of cooperation with the EU encouraged residents of Porokhnia village to work on further projects with partners. Centralised water supply is the next issue that the community plans to tackle in a similar way. The cost of the new project would be substantially higher than the installment of the street lighting system. However, the success of the first project has inspired hope that the necessary partners and resources will be found.

Ihor ZAPADENKO
Khmelnytskyi-Volochysk