28 May 2024
Децентралізація
Finding Development Funds Through Cross-Border Partnerships
Finding Development Funds Through Cross-Border Partnerships

Representatives from 40 communities and Oblast Military Administrations of Lviv, Volyn, Zakarpattia, and Rivne regions joined the USAID HOVERLA Activity’s five-day training on cross-border cooperation. The participants worked on tourism and cooperation project applications for the Interreg NEXT Poland-Ukraine 2021-2027 program.


Volodymyr, Volyn Oblast, is one of the oldest cities in Ukraine. The first written mention of the city dates back to 988 AD. Large defensive ramparts of an ancient fortress remain. The monument could become a magnet for tourists, but today, it is crumbling and not popular even among the city residents.

Kateryna Pidhurets, a resident of Volodymyr, did not know about this “treasure” until she came to work as the head of the Volodymyr City Council’s international cooperation and tourism department. Together with her colleagues, she thought of restoring the monument. Since the city's budget was limited during wartime, they started looking for international opportunities.

“The city often conducts events on these ramparts, but the landmark is being destroyed. So, we would like to reinforce them, build an observation tower and an entrance gate, make this place accessible to people with disabilities and increase the number of tourists. The estimated cost of restoration is over 50 million hryvnias,” says Kateryna.

During USAID HOVERLA Activity training sessions, she learned about the Interreg NEXT Poland-Ukraine program, which provides funding for such projects, and decided to apply.

 

Kateryna Pidhurets

 

Interreg NEXT is an EU cooperation program with neighboring regions. Applications must be submitted in a cross-border partnership focused on environment, health, tourism, accessibility, border security, and people's collaboration. The goal is to build good neighborliness and overcome common challenges. The applications is selected by a Monitoring Committee consisting of public institutions, economic and social partners and bodies representing civil society appointed by each participating country. As the nearest competition prioritizes tourism projects, the USAID HOVERLA Activity devoted its training to this topic to help communities prepare their applications.

 

Geography of the Interreg NEXT Poland - Ukraine Program (illustration from https://pl-ua.eu/ua/news/)

 

“Our Polish partner – Grubeshiv - is located 30 km away. We have the same objects, but different histories, monuments, and problems. But we have a common goal - to preserve the monument and attract people to it.”

Grubeshiv and Volodymyr had previously developed a joint environmental project and are now waiting for the results. Previous application was developed by Polish partners. Hence, Volodymyr has to prepare the tourism project – develop the idea and consider all the nuances. That is why Kateryna was eagerly awaiting the training.

“The application is really complex as you need to write about the needs of both communities. During the five-day training, USAID HOVERLA Activity trainers explained every point of the application. It was very useful,” explains Kateryna.

 

Kateryna Pidhurets during the USAID HOVERLA Activity training session

 

“The HOVERLA trainers taught us how to present our idea in an understandable manner, how to create a budget and describe the activities. They advised us to connect our tourist route to the international one, which passes through our communities. Thus, people heading to the EU will stay longer and explore our city.”

Some communities that came without their own ideas left the training with almost developed projects.

“During the training, I came up with the idea of creating  a cycling path and also develop access to tourist attractions for people with disabilities. Now I can search for an international partner using the Interreg NEXT Poland-Ukraine website. I am grateful to the USAID HOVERLA Activity for providing a communication platform and a space for generating ideas!” says Nataliia Pariiichuk, chief specialist of the Zdolbuniv City Council.

 

Natalia Pariychuk during the training (right)

 

“I am glad that representatives of Oblast Military Administrations (OMA) were also invited to the event. We learned about the needs of all communities and understood how we can support them when applying and connect them with other communities to apply for a joint project. Together they will have more chances to win. I learned about Lviv Oblasts's experience when the OMA co-finances 10 percent of the project if the project wins. I would like to implement such an experience in our oblast”, shares Renata Sheveria, chief specialist of the Zakarpattia Oblast Military Administration.

The USAID HOVERLA Activity supports the Ministry of Restoration’s efforts in developing cross-border cooperation. Such training helps communities establish partnerships, gain experience in cross-border projects, and work with European organizations and funds during the EU accession process.

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