The success of the EU-UNDP programme, “Community-based Approach to Local Development” (CBA), inspired citizens of Nova Ushchytsia rayon in Ukraine’s Khmelnytskyi oblast to look for more funding opportunities. Encouraged by the programme’s impact, citizens established a new resource centre, which now co-operates with EU-UNDP projects and provides information and advice to NGOs and active citizens keen to develop their communities.
We met with community representatives of Nova Ushytsia rayon on the day when a new water pipeline was officially unveiled in Otrokiv village. Over one hundred village households are now supplied with clean spring water. “The water is soft and agreeable,” says Viacheslav Tretiak, the project coordinator, after drinking from the water valve. “The village community co-financed the project, covering half of its cost,” he says, adding that people themselves collected UAH 130,995 (about €12,000): the biggest contribution by a community to a micro project implemented in Khmelnytskyi oblast.
The CBA project not only helped people in the Nova Ushytsia rayon get clean water to their homes but also encouraged citizen self-organisation. After the project was completed, the community established its own resource centre in partnership with rayon authorities and the EU-UNDP CBA project.
Oleg Shynkarenko, the resource centre leader, says that the centre will investigate assistance programmes created by different donor organisations, and disseminate this information to the community. “NGO leaders often lack experience, and some villages even don’t have internet,” he says, adding that the resource centre can fill this information gap. “Recently, for example, we received information about the new call for proposals launched by the EU on regional policy,” Shynkarenko says, adding that although it is difficult to write the project proposal, “we have to do our best to be successful.”
Local residents already come to the resource centre with their questions and suggestions. Lyudmyla Gabruk from Mala Struzhka village described her “green tourism” idea. Together with her fellow community members, she set up an NGO promoting tourism in the countryside. The next step is to reconstruct and equip a mineral water spring.
It is tourism, especially “green tourism,” that has the potential to give an economic boost to Nova Ushytsia rayon communities, which are rich in unique natural attractions and historical sites. The rayon resource centre, whose work is a follow-up to the EU-UNDP CBA project, is a window to the broader world set up by local civil society activists.
Four micro projects, with over UAH 737,000 (about €67,000), have introduced energy saving technologies in four Nova Ushytsia villages. A substantial portion (over UAH 177,000) was collected by the local communities themselves, matched by contributions from local authorities (UAH 279,000) and the EU-UNDP CBA programme (UAH 281,000).
In total, over 1,100 Ukrainian communities and 1.2 million citizens have benefited from the EU-UNDP CBA programme since its launch in 2007. With a total budget of €30 million, it has rebuilt health centres, installed street lighting, provided school buses, replaced windows in schools and hospitals and ensured a supply of clean water. This has all been done with the support of organised local community groups, using social mobilisation tools to bring together local communities and local authorities for joint decision-making, cost sharing, implementation of community projects, and the establishment of sustainable and transparent mechanisms of local governance.
Khmelnytskyi – Nova Ushchytsia