05 December 2023
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At the junction of three borders. Interview with hromada leader

At the junction of three borders. Interview with hromada leader

Volodymyr Antonchuk, deputy head of the Mamalzhivska AH of the Chernivtsi Oblast tells about Romanian passports, Ukrainian roads, agricultural cooperatives and local traditions of emigration.

By Dmytro Synyak https://storage.decentralization.gov.ua/uploads/ckeditor/pictures/2995/content_synyak.png 

Mamalyha village is located at the junction of three borders: that of Ukraine, Moldova and Romania.

The deputy head of the hromada with a 12-thousand population often has to work from early morning till late at night.


Volodymyr Antonchuk at the bicycle parking of the Mamalyha hub school

The scariest horror story used by the opponents of the decentralisation reform is the reduction of small schools. Have you overcome this stage?

- Yes and no. The employees of several of our schools and parents of pupils tried to stop us from reorganising hromada educational network. They filed a lawsuit and it banned the reorganisation of schools into branches of the hub institution. But we did not give up and provided new school buses to the villages with such schools. In some time, many pupils of these schools moved to a hub school themselves.

And now, directors who opposed the school reform started to strive for it?

- Exactly. For them it’s the only chance to save their schools.


Pupils of the Mamalyha school walk past the pillars of the sidewalk tiles that will be laid in the school yard.


In the classroom


What are you doing to reduce the outflow of youth from villages?

- First of all, we renovate the infrastructure and improve the quality of services in the hromada. Despite the considerable resistance from the Novoselytsia Primary Healthcare Centre, located in the rayon centre, we took over all of our 6 outpatient clinics. We have started developing telemedicine, discussed so much right now, since 2016. All our outpatient clinics are actively cooperating with the Healthcare Agency, receiving funds for their patients.

By the way, in fact, other hromadas often lack doctors, and therefore they are forced to take unprecedented steps in order to attract them. Is there such a problem in your AH?

- We have the opposite situation – there is a lack of patients. Only one out of seven of our family doctors managed to sign 1,900 declarations with patients and now says that she no longer needs to, because then a lowering coefficient will be applied to her income.


Volodymyr Antonchuk in the Mamalyha hub school

The feature of the Mamalyhivska AH is that out of the six village councils it contains only one is Ukrainian. All the rest are Moldovan, and people speak mostly Romanian. Does the hromada, where Ukrainians are actually a national minority, create a threat to the integrity of Ukraine?


Bilingual bus stop in Mamalyha

Many AH residents have Romanian passports and, apparently, often visit Romania. Are there anyone among them who dreams of emigrating to Romania?

- Out of 12,000 hromada residents, only 2,400 are Ukrainians, and the rest are Romanian Moldovans. Many of them have relatives in Romania and Moldova, and often visit these countries. However, this does not mean that they do not like Ukraine or are trying to leave it at the first opportunity.

And what about Romanian passports? After all, in order to receive them, people must give an oath of allegiance to Romania.

- Hromada residents need them to work freely in Italy and throughout Europe, even in Great Britain.

What is the language of the village council sessions in your AH?

- Exclusively in Ukrainian. Frankly speaking, at the first hromada session in 2016, we decided that speakers can talk in the native language of the national minority, but they should provide translation into Ukrainian, in order to make it clear to everyone. But so far nobody has used this opportunity.


Volodymyr Antonchuk and Alla Chebotar, Nesvoye village head

Are all hromada schools in Romanian speaking?

- No, Podvirna school is Ukrainian, and the hub school is Mamalyha is bilingual. Incidentally, last September, for the first time in its history, it did not get sufficient number of Romanian-speaking first-grade pupils. You see, parents prefer Ukrainian-language education since they believe that their children will be more likely to receive higher education in Ukraine than in Romania or Moldova.

Aren’t there graduates in Mamalyha and surrounding villages willing to enter Romanian universities?

- I know only a few graduates from our hromada who entered the Romanian universities, there are doctors and politicians among them. All other pupils choose Ukrainian higher education institutions...


Volodymyr Antonchuk staying near the Mamalyha checkpoint on the border with Moldova

Volodymyr Antonchuk gets a large heavy steel suitcase from the depths of the old cupboard. He is seeking a key from a small but safe lock. "This suitcase is a kit for energy managers," he says, finally opening the "steel box". "Last September, along with 30 other Ukrainian hromadas, the Mamalyhivska AH took part in the "Energy Efficiency in Hroamdas-2" programme. We pledged to introduce a position of an energy saving manager, passed several trainings and received such a treasure. Here is a guide to measuring energy efficiency, here are devices for determining the humidity and quality of lighting, here is an infrared thermal imager - it is very convenient to look for heat losses in winter.

Tell me, please, about the energy audit of budget institutions held by the Mamalyhivska AH. Usually budget institutions insulate facilities, since it’s a good additional measure, then renovate boiler houses, since they will not go amiss too. At the same time, nobody sees a comprehensive picture. Why did you go the other way?

- This is one of the first projects implemented by our hromada. In 2017, due to the U-LEAD with Europe Programme and the project “Energy Efficiency Reform in Ukraine”, we carried out energy certification of all our educational institutions. We carried out the energy inventory of all the AH buildings, and then calculated how much they consumed in 2016. In course of this energy audit, it became clear that our schools consume about 80% of the total thermal energy in the hromada. Thus, next month, we plan to train all school supply and maintenance managers. After the training, the daily energy monitoring of schools will begin. According to our calculations, this will save us at least 20%.


Energy manager with a magic suitcase

The Mamalyhivska AH has joined the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energyaimed at reducing CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. What kind of CO2 emissions does a small rural hromada have and how can it reduce their number?

- The largest amount of emissions – about 80% - is produced be the population, since it uses the largest amount of gas and electricity. And to generate this electricity, Ukrainian thermal power plants burn tens of thousands of tons of coal every day. We have all the villages gasified, firewood and pellets are rarely used for heating here. So, if we reduce electricity and gas consumption, we can influence the overall reduction of CO2 emissions in the whole country and ultimately on the planet as a whole. You should see how the glaciers of Greenland have changed now! We saw photos at seminars...


A new road in the village of Stalnivtsi, completely renovated to the order of the Motor Road Service of the Chernivtsi Oblast



The street in Mamalyha, cobbled at the expense of hromada

Your neighbours, the Hlybotska AH, introduced a unique experience, bringing together the entire population of the extinct village of Mykhailivka into a dairy cooperative, which now owns its own cheese dairy. And now the village has a prospect for development. Have you applied this experience in your hromada?

- We are the participants of the project “Different hromadas – joint decisions for economic development”, financed by the EU programme “Mayors for Economic Growth”. The project activities include creation of an agricultural servicing cooperative. Tender procedures have already taken place, and a supply contract has also been concluded.


Volodymyr Antonchuk, deputy head of Mamalyhivska AH, worked in Italy for four years

How does AH management help this cooperative?

- First of all, we helped with documents’ registration. In addition, the Mamalyha village council provided about UAH 200 thousand of co-financing for the purchase of grain dryers and separators. Members of the cooperative collected another UAH 20 thousand, and together it made up 25.5% of the cost of all equipment. And 74.5% of the cost of equipment is the grant money of the Mayors for Economic Growth programme.

And what about cheese dairy?

- Give us some time, and the cheese dairy farm will be here. We even have premises for it.

How many workplaces should be created due to launch of the grain processing cooperative in the hromada?

- At the moment, we are not considering workplaces, since those who have joined the cooperative are private entrepreneurs who pay the single tax. And the cooperative itself is non-profitable.

Almost all border hromadas benefit greatly from participating in so-called cross-border cooperation programmes. What about the Mamalyhivska AH?

- Until recently, the Romanian side was interested in the EU funds remaining in it, and we would act only as informational and other partners. Last year, we submitted applications to participate in six projects, and so far not all have undergone a preliminary assessment, but there are two projects that have already been considered within the first round. We are looking forward to the finals.

There is an international checkpoint to Moldova on the territory of Mamalyhivska hromada. Does the AH have any benefit from this?

- The only benefit is that it is quite profitable to open stores, pharmacies, etc. in roadside buildings – traffic is always active here. In 2008, an investment plan was developed to create service areas around the checkpoint. But unfortunately, none of the potential investors and donors was interested in our project.

There is a junction of three borders on the territory of your hromada. It can also be a feature to attract tourists.

- By the way, we have an activist who proposes to build a tower from which Ukraine, Romania and Moldova would be visible at once.


Teacher of elementary school in the village of Podvirne says that now he cannot imagine lessons without usinf a multi-board


Stalnivtsi village school


An interactive assistant for choosing a future profession at Stalnivtsi school


Stairs at Stalnivtsi school 


Celebration of Malanka fest in the Mamalyhivska AH


Volodymyr Antonchuk shows a pre-project decision to build a club in the village of Koshulyany

What is the most acute problem of the Mamalyhivska AH?

- Staffing problem. I dream of establishing an investment department in our hromada that would be looking for grants, but we cannot find qualified people for it.

The full version is available in Ukrainian – please click HERE


article report


Чернівецька область


Мамалигівська сільська об’єднана територіальна громада Мамалигівська територіальна громада


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