04 March 2024
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Strategic Horizons: Insights from a Strategic Planning Conference in Lviv Oblast
Strategic Horizons: Insights from a Strategic Planning Conference in Lviv Oblast

Lviv Oblast, January 26 – Around 100 local government representatives from 40 communities in Lviv, Volyn, and Zakarpattia Oblasts participated in a regional conference to discuss their development strategies, best practices, and opportunities. The conference was organized by the USAID HOVERLA Activity as part of its goal to strengthen the capacities of local governments under the decentralization reform.

Participants learned basic principles and practical tips to enhance their development plans from experts from Poland and HOVERLA specialists, as well as from successful practices shared by the speakers. The communities received valuable advice on preparing high-quality project proposals, which they can submit to international programs and attract additional funds and foreign partners. They also learned how to interconnect the strategic document with spatial and budget planning, update their skills, and effectively communicate with residents about development activities in the community.

In his keynote remarks, Marc Ellingstad, USAID Director of Democracy and Governance Office, told the participants:

“Your development strategies, conceived during these trying times, will shape the trajectory of decentralization efforts and further Ukraine’s integration into the European Union. We know from looking at the experience of Poland and other new EU members that a vital element to their success was the ability of local governments to successfully apply for and then execute EU funding opportunities. The strategies will help you as you take responsibility for your development, implement unique needs and aspirations, find innovative and creative solutions, and uphold the values of freedom and democracy.”

Taras Khomyak, Deputy Head of the Lokachi Village Council in Volyn oblast, said:

"The information about opportunities and grant programs for communities that have developed a strategy was fascinating. We took valuable notes and ideas and are already planning to work towards international cooperation, understanding that despite the state of war, a window of opportunities is opening. Events like those from the USAID HOVERLA Activity allow us to break away from daily routine tasks and focus on the strategic development of the community."

Another participant, Stepan Kuvik, Specialist of the Yasinya Village Council in Zakarpattia oblast and a graduate of the youth internship program in local self-government from the USAID HOVERLA Activity, found the conference enlightening.

"As a young professional and a new employee, the topic of involving the public during the implementation of the strategy was beneficial because it's a challenge for our community. So, it was valuable to hear about the effective experiences of colleagues: how they conducted surveys on social networks or planned events for youth in an informal atmosphere. I realized that it is necessary to create a youth council and a center to involve more young people in decision-making."

The participants also heard from Igor Sanzharovsky, Acting Deputy Head of the USAID HOVERLA Activity; representatives of the Lviv, Volyn, and Zakarpattia Regional State Administrations; Olexandr Voloshynskyy, Head of the Lviv Regional Office of the USAID HOVERLA Activity, and Technical Manager of the project on strategic planning; Irina Storonianska, Project Coordinator on strategic planning; Bartlomiej Ostrovskyy, Coordinator of the working group in Ukraine of the European Association of Local Democracy (ALDA); Ireneusz Ratushniak, consultant on strategic planning, and others.

In general, 29 communities from Lviv, Volyn, and Zakarpattia Oblasts developed their strategies with the support of HOVERLA experts. Over half of the strategies have already been approved. These are the first communities in Ukraine that developed strategic documents following updated clear methodological requirements from the government.

The USAID HOVERLA Activity, in collaboration with grantee Local Economic Development Agency of Yavoriv District, has been supporting these communities to improve their governance capabilities in the past two years.

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