Decentralisation has given self-confidence to hromadas. Now not only oblasts, large cities or rayons can boast of many-million projects, but also villages and rural hromadas. What has changed in cities and villages with the transition of the country to the decentralisation path and why should hromadas make their best practices known throughout the country and even beyond its borders? We talk about this with Hennadii Zubko, Vice Prime Minister – Minister of Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Communal Services of Ukraine.
Mr Zubko, more and more success stories of hromadas are spread in the media: schools and healthcare institutions are being renovated, water pipes are being built and street lighting set up, as well as many other projects implemented. Have the number of projects really increased, or have the journalists finally started paying more attention to the activities of the local authorities?
I am sure that both things happened. The decentralisation we have been implementing in the country for four years has given hromadas an opportunity to raise large amounts of money in local budgets and invest them in large-scale projects. As a result, there are already changes that can not be noticed in the villages and cities. Thousands of projects were implemented in the cities and villages of AHs at the expense of only the state infrastructure subvention. And this is not to mention the projects in the regions, co-financed by the State Fund for Regional Development and other programms of state and international support.
And more and more often, this is not just a replacement of windows, doors and light bulbs, these are projects of territory development, improvement of services for people: creation of a New Educational Space, construction of safety centres, ASCs, repair and modern equipment of healthcare institutions, telemedicine, waste collection, recycling and transfer to alternative energy sources, etc.
Has the level, scale of projects, annually submitted by hromadas to the “Best Local Self-Government Practices” competition, changed?
Yes, the scale of projects is increasing. And most importantly – their efficiency increases. Now few people start a project just because they found money. Hromadas plan their development for years to come, and therefore pass each project through the sieve of future efficiency. For example, if the number of children in the village is constantly decreasing, a new school will not be built there, instead it will be better to provide village children with a school bus...
Every year, together with the Council of Europe, we change the topics of the competition, trying to keep pace with the changes in hromadas. In addition, different topics mean more opportunities for hromadas to show their successes. That is why there are cities and villages, that have received honours for several years in a row, among the participants of the competition, for example, the Kiptivska rural AH of the Chernihiv Oblast, Dunayevetska urban AH in the Khmelnytskyi Oblast, Trostyanets City Council of the Sumy Oblast, Ivano-Frankivsk City Council ...
This year, the topics are the inclusiveness of regional and local development, safe living environment and reasonable use of own resources.
You pay a lot of attention to an idea of creating an inclusive, barrier-free environment in hromadas. How actively is this topic picked up on the ground?
I will say even more – Ukrainians have always been very sensitive to the needs of people, who require help. But earlier, the hromada's desire to help its residents almost always encountered a lack of money and powers, and sometimes an indifference of certain officials. Decentralisation has changed the management system, decision-making system, and released hromadas’ energy. Now hromadas make decisions, attract and allocate money for social projects themselves. And now we observe frequent opening of inclusive-resource centres in cities and villages, creation of educational spaces for children with special educational needs, and so on. Yes, the state helps, allocates subvention for these needs, but without hromadas’ participation, this would not be so effective.
Do hromadas understand the benefits of spreading their best governance practices?
The leaders of hromadas understood the benefits of openness in communication with colleagues, entrepreneurs, journalists, and foreign partners. And when the projects of their hromadas receive recognition, become known and spread across the country as best practices, it gives local leaders one more ace in dealing with investors, state bodies, projects of international technical assistance.
I would like to recall one of the winning projects of the last year's best practice competition – the Nemishayeve settlement council of the Borodyanka Rayon of the Kyiv Oblast introduced the “Social Nemishayeve Resident Card”, and this practice was immediately picked up by other hromadas, and journalists and investors became interested in the settlement itself.
It is noticeable that hromadas have become interested in telling their success stories, building their own reputation as reliable and capable business and state partners in the implementation of large projects.
Receipt of applications for participation in the “Best Local Self-Government Practices” competition-2018 have been prolonged until 8 October 2018.
The winners will traditionally be awarded at the end of the year.
The CoE Programme “Decentralisation and Local Government Reform in Ukraine” is MinRegion’s partner in the competition conducting.
More information about the competition can be found HERE.
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