A biggest dream of any donor project when it is just started is to see that in future local or national partners fully internalize the approach it offers. It would mean that the approach is valuable and really helps to achieve expected results.
Since 2004, the “Municipal Governance and Sustainable Development Programme” partners with the city councils (local self-government bodies) in order to promote democratic governance and improve the quality of life in urban Ukraine. During 7 years of its operation, it helped 29 city councils across Ukraine to pilot the approach of wide community involvement into the decision-making process on development agenda. To make it happen, our partners developed many local regulatory and normative acts which helped them to introduce this work as a system at local level.
Here I made a collection of the legal and regulatory acts of our partners, as well as some other documents like typical statues and regulations (in Ukrainian, pdf):
- To start mobilizing local communities, a city council should create a municipal support unit or institution with a mandate to foster social mobilization for the local development. Some of our cities created the internal department of the municipality, some of them thought that Resource Centre for Sustainable Development in a form of the NGO would perform this function better.
- The municipal support unit interacts with the local citizens, motivates them for direct participation in the local self-government, and mobilizes their efforts for undertaking specific projects and initiatives. In the educational sphere, it helps to create public organizations of the individual schools or kindergartens, or sometimes even organizations of the higher level like School Networks. In the housing sector, it widely promotes creation of the associations of co-owners of multiapartment houses or condominiums, for owners of the cottage-type individual private houses in the streets – service cooperative is a proper organizational form. Sometimes citizens choose to create bodies of self-organsiation of population – usually in rural areas of small rayon-subordinated towns – but MGSDP recommends choosing a different legal and organizational form which provides wider financial and property rights to its members.
- When a number of community-based organizations in the city grows significantly, it causes a need to create a Public Forum for participatory planning and decision-making where these communities can voice their needs to the city council and, upon joint decision-making, selected development plans of the communities are incorporated into the municipal level development plan. It usually happens in a form of the Municipal Sustainable Development Council.
- To make cooperation between communities and city councils systemic and possible even without any donor contribution, the municipality eventually develops its own Municipal Sustainable Development Programme which has to be approved by the regular session of the city council. It can be a targeted programme for supporting some specific types of community-based organizations like condominiums, bodies of self-organisation of population, any types of communities which help to solve problems in housing sector.
The best option is, of course, when the local government offers support to any type of community organisation. It’s a long process, but once it happens – it makes cooperation between the city council and communities sustainable. This is when a dream comes true.