In May, R2P with the support of the UNHCR, began work on the project “Ensuring Access to Social Services in Amalgamated Territorial Communities (ATCs) Along the Contact Line”. Its goal is to support newly formed communities in the process of decentralization, i.e. the creation of the Social passport of the community and the aid in the formation of an effective and functioning system to provide the social services in the newly established amalgamated territorial communities (ATCs/ “Hromadas” in Ukrainian) taking into account their budget, influence of the hostilities and lack of full-fledged local self-government bodies, etc.
Ukraine has completed the process of reforming the administrative-territorial structure in 2020. As a result of a community consolidation, new administrative units were formed: 1469 amalgamated territorial communities and 119 districts in 24 regions (oblasts). Donetsk region (Government-Controlled (GCA) and Non-Government Controlled Areas (NGCA) of Ukraine) has 46 ATCs and 8 districts. Luhansk region (GCA, NGCA) has 28 ATCs and 4 districts.
In areas affected by the conflict near the contact line, decentralization has taken place with significant obstacles and under unfavorable circumstances. The decision not to include 10 communities in Donetsk and 8 communities in the Luhansk regions in the local elections (November 2020) created a double challenge for these territories.
First of all, for security reasons, they are all run by the civil-military administrations (CMAs), in order to ensure national security and defense, as well as to perform the functions of the local governments. Second, by the end of January 2021, the CMAs did not have the legal authority to perform such basic responsibilities as land management, community or co-ownership, establishment and management of the administrative service centers, implementation of inter-community cooperation agreements, and so on.
This legislative gap has recently been closed, but both the CMAs and the ATCs still need more time and support to adapt to decentralization, while responsibility for the social protection of the most vulnerable is already being transferred to them.
«There are lots of problematic issues in the communities where civil-military administrations have been established by Presidential Decree. In addition to the general problems with the exercise of the rights to social services guaranteed by the Constitution of Ukraine, each such community has additional difficulties related to the long-term conflict and the lack of qualified professionals. The project “Ensuring access to social services in local communities along the contact line” will allow CMAs to establish an effective social protection system to provide quality social services in the communities within the timeframe specified by the Law of Ukraine.»– says Oleh Lyubimov, Decentralization Coordinator at CF “Right to Protection” (R2P)
Work on a new project involves several stages:
- research of the current situation (questionnaires of local authorities, focus groups, surveys of recipients of social services);
- providing methodological assistance (development of draft administrative and organizational documents, conducting a set of educational and practical seminars and trainings, providing consultations);
legal and methodological support during the creation of the main units of social protection of local authorities in each community.
In early June, the teams of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) began the process of signing memorandums of cooperation with the Nyzhnyohirska and Teplivska OTGs, as well as with the Marinska and Sartanska CMAs.
«New amalgamated territorial communities must learn to build everything from scratch. Working with them will be difficult but at the same time a very interesting task. For us, areas near the contact line are not something super new and we have a long time of experience in cooperation with the activists and local state representatives here. We know both the problems and the challenges. So, we hope that our further joint work will be aimed at community development and success. »
– said Olena Grekova, head of the Severodonetsk office of the R2P