Hromadas’ accession to cities of oblast significance is on the agenda of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. Recently, local self-government representatives have come together in the region to discuss obstacles to this process and come up with common solutions to address them.
The discussion was held within the framework of the project “Promoting Dialogue on Reforms in Ukraine” of the OSCE Project Coordinator in Ukraine in cooperation with the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast State Administration, the regional branch of the Association of Ukrainian Cities, Local Government Development Centre of the U-LEAD with Europe Programme, Reform Office of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. The meeting in Dnipro is the next in a series of similar events that have taken place in the Kyiv, Donetsk, Lviv and Odesa Oblasts since July.
Out of 13 cities of oblast significance in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, only two have become centres of amalgamated hromadas - Pokrov and Marhanets.
In the dialogue with the participants, it became clear that among the problems that hinder the rest of the cities and AHs from joining adjacent hromadas is the fear of these village or settlement councils to lose or minimise subjectivity, identity, representation in the council, influence on decision making and budget allocation. Legal and socio-economic problems, insufficient or ineffective communication, as well as unwillingness of cities and hromadas to incur additional costs and responsibility for the maintenance of infrastructure in these adjacent hromadas, development of their territories also make an obstacle.
Experts point out that often these doubts are based on inaccurate calculations and that constructive dialogue does not always take place between the parties.
That is why the participants were invited to work on creating strategic maps of opportunities for future hromadas, propose them for consideration of the neighbouring hromadas and discuss these visions in a public dialogue format with the support of the OSCE Project Coordinator in Ukraine.
Strategic maps of opportunities will be useful in the process of establishing an AH, regardless of whether it will be a voluntary form of accession or, after the end of the voluntary phase, an administrative process.
A strategic map opportunities is a conditional name for a document that may include a preliminary analysis, vision, SWOT analysis of a future municipality in the format of "city + surrounding hromadas" or "established AH + surrounding hromadas".
Such a document, first, can serve as a valid proposal, presentation for neighbouring hromadas in the negotiation process, public hearings. Both cities or AHs, neighbouring communities will be better aware of what awaits them after accession, if this happens.
Second, the document will help identify potential accession issues that can be further neutralised.
Third, a strategic map of opportunities will help identify growth points, competitiveness and co-development, and be the basis for the development of an official document - the AH Strategy.
In facilitating the development of such opportunity maps, the experts, involved by the OSCE Project Coordinator in Ukraine, have developed guidance documents for each oblast. The guide includes recommendations on the main components of the map creation, examples of strategic documents of other cities of oblast significance, as well as contacts of consultants and experts of international technical assistance projects working in the oblast.
Experts emphasise that development within new boundaries, with new resources, new goals cannot be entirely calculated in advance. However, they said, calculations and strategies are important not only when a hromada is already established. It is logical to understand what opportunities, benefits, and potential challenges await such an amalgamation format before the amalgamation takes place.
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