In the beginning of December DRI organised a school on civic activism, which took place in Kyiv. For five days participants from different regions of Ukraine learnt about mechanisms of local democracy, existing tools to bring local authorities to accountability and how to become agents of change. Our media partner Studway talked to the school participants about their outtakes.
What changes can be implemented already today?
The easiest way to start is monitoring of the decentralisation process and advocating for our interests to be represented. Nowadays, through use of open data we can bring authorities accountable and we also have mechanisms to cooperate with them. Societal activism is an unexplored field: we can create public spaces, inform young people about their rights and opportunities and talk about community development using our own examples, especially in villages and small towns.
Nowadays young people have many opportunities and tools to change their community. For example, they can write and get signatures for electronic petitions, which may be later considered by the local authorities. They can attend a session of city or village councils to present their own ideas and raise local problems. On the other hand, young people can show initiative and clean public spaces, paint fences or playgrounds, or even feed stray animals. I have personally written petitions and sheltered homeless cats at home.
How can we start the changes in the regions?
Trainings on civic education and activism are helping to facilitate change in the local communities. Previously, I was not interested in issues concerning my house building, but eventually I learned saw how people can joine their efforts in solving the housing problems. I am very glad that the situation is improving and currently there are more educational events in my city.
Active young people from outskirts come to regional centres and it is important to involve them into community work. They shall be informed about projects to join and results achieved, and learn about the benefits they can gain both for personal, but also community development.
How do we assess decentralisation?
Decentralisation is a beneficial development because people know where their resources are allocated and witness the results. Unfortunately, the actual implementation of the reform leaves much to be desired.
I am one of the decentralisation champions. The biggest benefit of the process is that communities can decide how to spend the money. I believe better results are achieved if the changes are decided and implemented locally.
How do you identify fake news?
There were shootings in my hometown Kramatorsk in 2014 and the safety of my family depended on information presented in the media. We were receiving different messages and I always paid attention to facts and verified sources.
I try to avoid watching news since 2004, as the data on Ukraine is rather sad: more than 50% of news are either lies or manipulations. If I am interested in a question, I always do an analysis and compare available information.
The interviews were conducted by Oksana Rasulova from Studway, DRI media partner for the school. The original Ukrainian version can be found here.
Photo courtesy: Julia Serdyuk