How has decentralisation affected the lives of Ukrainians? This issue is of great interest to American journalists who got acquainted with the Kharkiv Oblast during a week in August. At first Sam Metz and Omar Ornelas, journalists of The Desert Sun (Palm Spring, California), learned about the course and consequences of changes in the high offices of the Kharkiv Oblast Council, and then switched from theory to practice and visited the Novovodolazka amalgamated hromada.
Americans were met in the Nova Vodolaha village council by hromada head Oleksandr Yesin and his deputy Lilia Ivashchenko.
“What changes has decentralisation brought to your hromada? What effect does it have on rural areas?” immediately asks Sam Metz.
“Positive effect to put it short,” says Oleksandr Yesin. “And in more detail, it is necessary to start amalgamation timely.”
It should be reminded that according to the Perspective plan, the Novovodolazka AH had to include 11 councils. Six amalgamated though.
“And what do non-amalgamated hromadas lose?” asks American colleague.
“They lose a lot and in different directions. The main thing is the annual state support (according to the legislation, the state provides support to AHs in course of five years),” explains the head of the Novovodolazka AH. “Non-amalgamated councils lost about 8 million hryvnias in three years, according to our estimates. They also lose out on taxes. In addition, there are many infrastructure projects that are targeted at amalgamated hromadas.”
“This is one of the largest hromada farm enterprises. There are also smaller agro-farms, food industry – dairy and meat production. There is also a heavy industry – a concrete plant, we also produce abrasive disks, glass decor. Quartz sand is still being extracted and exported to 11 European countries. And our oil extraction plant exports refined sunflower oil to the United States as well,” Oleksandr Yesin describes the local business.
More than 300 cattle heads are grazed on the farmland.
“Kharkiv is a beautiful city, but I am a man of soil, I am very interested in living in the hinterland. Residents of the Novovodolazka hromada live the same way I do, they are people of the soil, so we understand each other well without a translator,” later notes our American colleague.
In addition to cattle, there are over 12,000 pigs on the farm. The Nova Vodolaha agro firm sells its products on the domestic market.
Then the group returns to the hromada centre. The next destination is the Inclusive Resource Centre. This is the true pride of the AH. About 3 million hryvnias were spent on its setting.
A specialised “social taxi” car that transports people with disabilities is shown to the American guests.
During their trip to Nova Vodolaha, Americans became interested in the public budget, which has been implemented in the AH for the second year in a row. 34 projects were submitted for competition, 32 were admitted.
Americans also visited the ASC and the “reformed” library.
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