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Policy Brief / Recovery and reconstruction of Chernihiv oblast: initial experience, capacity and partner interaction

This study was conducted by the team of the German-Ukrainian Bureau as part of the project “Local Resilience and Recovery: The Potential of Ukrainian Civil Society in Chernihiv Oblast,” with financial support from the German Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung/bpb). The content of this study is the responsibility of its authors and does not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Agency for Civic Education.

Co-authors of the Study:

Inna Nelles – Co-founder and Researcher

Tetiana Lopashchuk – Project Leader

Mattia Nelles – Co-founder and Executive Director

While studying the civil society of Chernihiv Oblast,  we collected a range of facts and perspectives from various stakeholders regarding their experience in reconstruction. We decided to systematise these insights into a separate document. These opinions are a logical continuation and supplement to the initial study and should be considered in conjunction with it.

The aim of this study is to develop recommendations for various stakeholders (including representatives of local governments, civil society, and international technical assistance organisations) based on the rapid reconstruction experience of Chernihiv Oblast. These recommendations are intended to enhance the effectiveness of their interaction during the implementation of reconstruction projects.

In this study, “recovery” refers to the comprehensive process of transformation and reform of the country, from the level of territorial communities to the national level. Concurrently, “reconstruction” refers to more practical actions, mainly concerning infrastructure projects, which must align with the vision of “recovery.”

Research Methods:

-              In-depth interviews with representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs) and local governments (LGs) of Chernihiv Oblast and national-level experts (a total of 15 interviews with representatives from 7 territorial communities in the oblast, including de-occupied areas and civil initiatives operating at the oblast and/or national level);

-              Survey (33 targeted questionnaires, including 17 from LGs and 16 from CSOs);

-              Desk research.

Brief Conclusions

The lack of a unified approved recovery plan and legislative inconsistencies create challenges for recovery and reconstruction at the local level. At the same time, communities are making progress in developing their strategic documents, which often serve as prerequisites for attracting state or foreign funds for reconstruction projects.

In addition to having a strategy or vision for community recovery/reconstruction, other success factors for such projects include considering the local context, public trust in the authorities, the availability of financial resources, and transparency in the use of these funds. The involvement of various stakeholders (including experts and other CSO representatives) in the decision-making and implementation processes is crucial. For instance, the creation of the first veterans’ space and family centre “Unbreakable” in Chernihiv Oblast demonstrates how the efforts of key stakeholders (representatives of LGs, CSOs, local businesses, international partners, philanthropists, volunteers, and citizens) can be effectively and organically united around a socially significant issue, making it possible to realise such ambitious projects.

There are three main levels at which civil society engagement in local reconstruction occurs: developing a strategic framework (where citizen engagement is often promoted by international technical assistance organisations), developing specific reconstruction projects (which often happens in a less inclusive manner), and direct involvement in the reconstruction of facilities, driven by volunteer networks. In the context of a full-scale war, the most effective tools for citizen engagement include transparent procurement, public consultations, and civic and supervisory boards.

To improve the effectiveness of local reconstruction, it is important to understand the specifics and potential of key stakeholders and strengthen their capacity. Common needs for both CSOs and LGs include material and technical support, staffing, and financial resources. There is a significant demand for increasing hard components of international technical assistance programmes, which would result in tangible physical projects. Regarding the soft components of programs, both LGB and CSO representatives expressed a need for training in project management, fundraising, and strategic planning.

Comprehensive community recovery and even the targeted reconstruction of damaged facilities is an ambitious task that requires a shared understanding of goals, local context, and the combined efforts of key stakeholders. The study recommends that international technical assistance organisations, local governments, and civil society organisations optimise their work and partner interactions. The key recommendation is to demonstrate a diversified approach to reconstruction and foster a truly collaborative attitude to jointly develop high-quality solutions.




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