Ukraine: Promoting change at the local level

Community members contribute to a local public works project.
Community members contribute to a local public works project. Photo: UNDP

Before 2008, the inhabitants of Pavlovka had access to piped water for only three hours a day—sometimes not at all. The people of this Crimean community carried buckets to a canal to retrieve water, as had previous generations. But then something changed.

Citizens joined together to discuss the problem and develop a plan to pipe in clean water. They gathered $15,410 in community funds and received $31,880 from the district council to build a new water tower and piping system.

The new system dramatically improved people’s lives. “Now we feel like human beings”, proclaimed one inhabitant the day the water tower was inaugurated. “I don’t understand how we lived before”.


  • 2,000 communities assisted
  • 1,700 projects implemented
  • 10,000 people trained

Until recently, such local initiatives were rare in Ukraine. The top-down governance inherited from the Soviet era largely destroyed people’s sense of personal initiative and self-confidence. The return in the 1990s of almost 300,000 ethnic Crimean Tatars compounded these challenges, increasing ethnic tensions and undermining people’s ability to work together.

UNDP’s Crimea Integration and Development Programme—supported by several donor countries and implemented by UNDP—became a key mover for change. Together with local authorities, it helped create community organizations that gave local inhabitants a voice and a platform.

Local development, national scale

The community-based development approach is now employed in all of Ukraine’s 25 regions. Through these efforts, UNDP has assisted 2,000 rural and urban communities across the country, benefiting over half a million Ukrainians. It has supported the implementation of 1,700 projects that have trained more than 10,000 local officials, teachers and health workers.

In the Chernobyl-affected areas, some 279 community organizations have been established. Inhabitants have come together to repair schools, refurbish water supply systems, and improve medical facilities.

Independent surveys conducted in 2010 found that satisfaction with local governments was 34 percent higher in communities employing local development strategies.

Local authorities and numerous donors (especially Canada, the European Commission, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey) contributed $62.5 million to these development efforts from 2001 to 2010. A further $23 million will support community development projects between 2011 and 2014.

Read the full story in our publication "Empowering Lives, Building Resilience"