Intensified support to the local government association in Ukraine to strengthen it’s response to the Covid-19 crises
Since the corona pandemic has emerged as a global threat, the need in countries and municipalities around the world has changed. Anna G: Son Berg is the project leader for the Support to Decentralization in Ukraine project and tells us what they can do together with their Ukrainian partners during this time of crisis.
The Covid-19 situation in Ukraine
On April 27, Ukraine had a little more than 9000 confirmed cases of Covid-19. A low figure compared to many other countries. Most cases are found in the capital, Kyiv. Ukraine has 42 million residents distributed over a large number of municipalities.
Support to Decentralization in Ukraine
In 2014 the Government of Ukraine (GoU) committed to a process of comprehensive decentralization reforms. By expanding the powers of local government bodies, the GoU intends to promote democracy, improve service delivery to citizens, and better coordinate national and local interests. In the decentralization process 12,000 municipalities will become significantly fewer. Today, there are 873 newly formed hromadas with an increased responsibility for community service.
The Swedish Government has committed to support the GoU in these reform efforts. The project “Support to Decentralization in Ukraine” (DSP), is being implemented by SALAR and its subsidiary SKL International, in close cooperation with several key ministries in Ukraine. It has recently started its second phase, that will be between 2020 and 2022.
Fighting the pandemic at the local level
Since the Corona pandemic has emerged as a global threat to both health and the economy, DSP has adapted its work to meet the crisis. Anna G: son Berg is a project manager at DSP.
– What does your project do to support the work against Covid-19?
– The DSP project has intensified and adjusted its support to the local government association, AATC, to strengthen its response to the Covid-19 crises. A number of activities have been undertaken by the AATC in cooperation with DSP.
For example, we have developed and launched a new website with recommendations and best practices for local governments in relation to e.g. hygiene, health care, social services to risk groups and how to organise communal work during quarantine. There are also communication messages and information to the general public, and an indicator guide that can be used by a commune to estimate how well they have organised their activities. (www.razom.hromady.org, editor’s note)
Other efforts focused on information and education are a daily newsletter to association members with Q & A. Also, we participate in and organize web-conferences on the role of local government in the crises.
Since fighting Covid-19 became a priority in Ukraine the DSP project supports development of crises management strategies on issues such as food security, personal protective equipment and distance education.
Last but not least, we continue to support policy advocacy targeting national and central level to counter that the crisis would lead to reduced budget allocations to local government.
– Why, in your opinion, is the local level of governance important in a global crisis?
– The local level of governance is close to the citizens and a link between the citizens and other levels of government with a unique understanding of needs, challenges, and opportunities of the citizens. The local authorities are often responsible for key services to citizens, which needs to be adjusted in a time of crises.
All assets must be used effectively in a crisis situation. Local government associations that gather local government actors, like the AATC in Ukraine, can provide coordination and support for an effective response to the situation.