Ukrainian local communities have invaluable unique experiences in surviving, resisting, and recovering during the war. ICUV, together with the ANTS Network, has launched an initiative of advocacy visits of representatives of our communities to European countries to share these experiences and to establish strong partnerships at the community level.
For three months the representatives of 17 Ukrainian communities visited Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Italy. As a result, local governments have already begun to interact with and support each other directly through these visits.
On May 2 we organized a discussion on the success and future prospects of this community visit initiative. It was attended by heads of five Ukrainian communities, diplomats, and representatives of civil society.
“I am very grateful to the local communities, and I also thank all the representatives of our partner embassies. It is important to help our local communities in their recovery efforts, and this was one of the reasons why we organized trips abroad for them, as it is their chance to establish direct contact with our partners. Local communities are the key to our future. That’s why we will continue to invest in their development”— said ICUV co-founder Hanna Hopko in her opening remarks.
Hanna noted that the decentralization reform has been and remains the most successful reform in Ukraine. Local communities have proved their independence and self-sufficiency and are ready to join the recovery. Now they need support, especially at the community-to-community level.
“Out of 2000 damaged and destroyed buildings in our community, more than 700 have been repaired already. As of now, 300 buildings are being constructed now. I think this is a very high indicator people are coming back to the community. People are waiting for the reconstruction and recovery, people want to live in their homeland”— told Olena Shvydka, Head of the Ivankivska community (Chernihiv region).
She said that thanks to partnerships and assistance from around the world, their community receives expert help and support. This is very important at this stage.
While communities liberated from the enemy focused on rebuilding, communities near the frontline face their challenges, such as a constant flow of IDPs, the threat of enemy strikes, power, and communication outages, landmines, and soil contamination.
“Among the problems that we have, there is a lack of clean drinking water, soil pollution, as well as mining of our territories with explosive elements. We are open to cooperation in these areas. We need to clean up these lands so that we can earn money on agriculture so that our businesses can operate. As for water, there is a need for filtration facilities. Ecology is important for our community, and I hope that European partners will be able to share their experience and technology with us and help us solve these problems.”— pointed out Svitlana Spazheva, the Head of the Pokrovska Community (Dnipropetrovsk region).
According to the participants of the discussion, establishing close and effective cooperation between Ukrainian and European communities can have an impact on the reconstruction of individual communities and the reconstruction of Ukraine in general.
Currently, it is significant not only to provide humanitarian and financial aid to Ukrainian communities but also to promote their organizational capacity and sustainable development.
To organize subsequent visits, ICUV and ANTS experts, together with representatives of local self-government bodies, developed a proposal with key areas of cooperation between European and Ukrainian communities. In particular, these are Humanitarian aid, Investment and business projects, Agriculture, Technologies, and innovations, Civilian Security, Ecology, Medicine and public health, Educational and cultural projects, and Local government development. It was handed over to the embassy representatives at the meeting.
The discussion was organized by ICUV as part of its project implemented under the USAID/ENGAGE activity, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Pact. The contents of this discussion are the sole responsibility of Pact and its implementing partners and do not necessary reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.