The European Charter of Local Self-Government was ratified by Ukraine in 1997. As a signatory, it committed itself to conceding greater responsibility to local authorities and to strengthening the involvement of the country's citizens in the democratic decision-making process. It is only in more recent years, however, that the government has taken the first steps towards reforming the public administration. In that context the SDC, at the official request of the then president of Ukraine, and based on its positive experience with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), decided in 2006 to launch the project "Support to Decentralization in Ukraine" (DESPRO).
Support to Decentralization in Ukraine
DESPRO provides support for municipal initiatives to increase the efficiency of local public services. © SDC
More than 20 years after gaining independence, Ukraine remains a highly centralised state. In addition to its work to promote better local services, in particular in the area of water, Switzerland provides support for decentralisation at the national level by helping to draw up legislation based on experience gained through the DESPRO project.
Decentralisation - local governance - democratization (incl. accountability)
Drinking water and basic sanitation (WASH - Water for people)
- Sustainable models of decentralised service delivery Feasible models of decentralized delivery of the selected public services (water supply, sanitation and solid waste management) are further developed, successfully implemented in the target regions, documented and taken up in the national decentralisation reform process for further replication
- The national reform process towards decentralization and local self-governance is strengthened through the provision of advisory support to key national institutions/stakeholders and local governance associations based on the experiences in the target regions regarding local service provision, cross-level cooperation, gender-sensitive approach and community participation
- The model of decentralized water supply developed by DESPRO is recognized at the regional and central level. Its replication has started in 5 regions – beyond the target regions of the project
- The living conditions of 75’000 citizens in target regions and over 25’000 citizens in non-target communities were improved due to successfully implemented water supply and solid waste management projects
- The financial contributions of rural communities to water supply projects increased from 30% of the investment costs in 2009 to 72% in 2012; this shows strong local ownership
- Over 1’500 public servants, representatives of local self-governments in target regions and municipalities apply new skills in participatory decision making, community mobilization, decentralized service provision and inter-municipal cooperation which they gained at DESPRO workshops and e-trainings
- Through its results at the local level DESPRO has gained recognition and credibility also among national stakeholders. Project experts provided support in designing some pieces of draft legislation for the Local Self-Government reform (e.g. draft Law on Inter-Municipal Cooperation)
- Swiss Private Sector
- Swiss Resource Centre and Consultancies for Development (Skat)
Ukraine is characterized by a highly centralized system of public administration. This leads to inefficiencies and dis-empowerment of local self-governments and to a low, even decreasing, coverage with basic public services like water supply, sanitation and solid waste management, in particular in rural areas. However, after years of a standstill, the overall context has recently become more dynamic. A concept for local governance reform has been elaborated and is expected to be approved, together with a related action plan, in the coming months. This will allow modernizing the legal basis in view of a more in-depth decentralization and should lead to further changes.
Quality of and access to selected public services are improved with the participation of local communities and authorities who are institutionally strengthened and jointly contribute to the local governance reform process at the national level.
Local: citizens of target rural communities and municipalities, representatives of community based organizations, representatives of village, municipal and rayon councils, rayon state administrations; Regional: oblast state administrations; representatives of oblast councils; Regional Institutes of the National Academy of Public Administration; Oblast Centres of Training and Retraining; regional Non-Governmental Organisations; National: Ministry for Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Communal Services; Parliamentary Committee on State Building and Local Self-Government; local self-government associations; National Academy of Public Administration; State Foundation for Local Self-Governance Support.
Results from previous phases:
|Directorate/federal office responsible||
Swiss cooperation with Eastern Europe
Local private sector
Multiple Local Partners
|Budget||Current phase Swiss budget CHF 9'330'000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF 9'032'241|
|Project phases||Phase 4 01.07.2017 - 31.12.2021 (Active) Phase 3 01.05.2013 - 30.06.2017 (Current phase)|
Support for concrete initiatives
The project provides support for municipal initiatives to increase the efficiency of local public services. The community is encouraged to organise itself in cooperatives and to decide which specific tasks should be given priority for improving the water supply and waste management system in their village. Once they have developed a workable plan, and following a quality control procedure, DESPRO furnishes assistance for the realisation of the initiative. The costs of funding such local projects are shared: until 2009, roughly half of the total costs for water supply systems was covered by the SDC; the local village communities paid one third of the costs, and the remainder was provided by the local government authorities. Meanwhile, the contribution of SDC is limited to an average of 28% in each project.
DESPRO also assists in the search for co-financing partners, such as members of the local business community. Villagers who are unable to make a financial contribution help in other ways, e.g. take part in the digging works and in laying pipes. By 2010, 40 projects in 33 villages had been completed. A further 32 water supply projects have been launched since 2011. DESPRO does not focus solely on the question of water supply, however. It also supports projects for the implementation of integrated solid waste management. Overall, it has contributed to an improvement in the living conditions of some 100,000 people.
Local government involvement
Local governments are involved in the planning, financing and realisation of village projects. They contribute technical support and delegate the operation and maintenance of the water supply system to the municipalities. Funding for the co-financing of joint projects comes from the municipal budgets and from the regional and sub-regional authorities. This leads to a substantial degree of decentralisation in the procedures for the budgeting and allocation of funds by the local governments.
In a number of communities, the project management know-how gained in carrying out DESPRO projects has successfully been put to use for bringing to the villages additional public services, such as gas and street lighting. The central government of Ukraine, along with the regional governments, has requested that DESPRO expand its efforts to promote decentralisation of public services in rural areas throughout the country.
Support for the development of national reform programmes
DESPRO also assists the national government in the drafting of legislation for decentralisation reforms. This involves, among other things, the formulation of the concept for the government's regional policies, planning the reform of local self-government structures, and measures for modernising public services. The intent is to provide a foundation for further local self-government reforms and for a reform of the existing power structures. DESPRO also provides technical support for government working groups involved in the development of concepts and draft legislation for various reforms. In that context it organises meetings with experts and public discussions at both the national and the regional levels. Since the Poroshenko government came to power in June 2014, this kind of activities has increased.