Participatory tools to help integrate displaced Ukrainians

Participatory tools to help integrate displaced Ukrainians

While co-decision mechanisms in Ukrainian municipalities have been suspended due to the war, participatory tools could still help support and integrate displaced Ukrainians, experts say.

Before the war, hundreds of Ukrainian towns and municipalities had set up participatory initiatives, which allowed citizens to take part in local decision-making.

In Lviv, for example, up to 200,000 residents took part in the participatory budgeting process by voting or submitting project ideas that could be funded from the city budget, says Volodymyr Kebalo, project officer at the City Council. Europe in Ukraine.

He believes that this participatory tool has helped build trust between residents and local governments.

In addition, the participatory budget is “a good way to fight corruption and engage citizens in public life”says Leonid Donos, director of theAssociation Communities Participatory Development.

After the Russian invasion, Ukrainian cities were forced to end participatory projects and all local resources were reallocated to the war effort and humanitarian needs.

Yet experts believe participatory tools could still play a crucial role in times of crisis.

Internally Displaced Persons

Due to the war, Ukraine currently has around 7 million internally displaced persons.

“We need to adapt policies and decisions to their needs and involve them in the decision-making process”said Mr. Kebalo.

The Council of Europe is currently using a participatory approach including consultations and workshops to develop the new regional education policy in the Lviv region.

“The aim is to identify and integrate the needs of displaced teachers and students into the educational process and to make the educational environment beneficial for them”he explained.

Mr. Donos is working with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to implement the participatory aspect of humanitarian aid.

The objective is to “create a space for discussion with displaced people”in order to understand their needs and foster cooperation with residents and local authorities, he explained.

Refugees in host countries

Josh Lerner, director of People Poweredbelieves that co-decision mechanisms can also help reduce tensions between refugees and local populations in countries hosting Ukrainians fleeing war.

“I think it’s really important to do it now, as quickly as possible, but also to do it carefully”he said.

According to him, in the long term, “People can feel resentment” when they see resources being devoted to newcomers.

“If you don’t have spaces for discussion and deliberation, then resentment can take hideous forms”Mr. Lerner continued.

The reconstruction of Ukraine

Participatory systems could even play a role in the reconstruction of Ukraine, according to Serhiy Loboyko, adviser to the Kyiv city government and director of the Center for the Development of Innovations.

“At the stage of developing and prioritizing reconstruction projects, municipalities in different regions will have different priorities”he told EURACTIV, adding that“it is important not just to rebuild, but to do it better and to involve citizens, NGOs and local businesses”.

In addition, a participatory approach to planning and financing Ukraine’s reconstruction at the local level could help build the confidence of international donors.

“It will be important for them to see that citizens and local stakeholders can work together with local governments, control the implementation process and, in this way, minimize the risks of corruption or poor execution by local governments. or subcontractors”he added.


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