Published 1 February 2023

Strengthening local democracy in Ukraine - The Decentralization Support Project II (DSPII)

Since the Maydan revolution in 2014, SALAR International has been supporting Ukraine with two projects - Prosto and DSP II. DSP II is focused on assisting national ministries and local governments, to implement the decentralisation reform.

Since 2015 the DSPII has successfully supported Ukraine’s decentralization reform. First by strengthening the ministries’ capacity to create financial conditions for local self-governments. Secondly by providing tools and methods to analyse operative performance in reference to local government budgets.

The reform resulted in

  • a substantial territorial reorganisation,
  • forming 1476 amalgamated municipalities (hromadas in Ukrainian) and 136 rayons,
  • the delegation of responsibility for education and
  • other key citizen services transferred to the local government level.

Optimizing finances and system for education grants

DSP has accompanied the Ministry of Education and Science in creating a modern system of management to optimize the system through which education grants are allocated to local governments. Through close support, hromadas have also been empowered to improve the supply and management of their new education functions.

The Association of Amalgamated Hromadas, which was formed in 2016 with the support of the first phase of DSP, has become an increasingly important representative for Ukrainian municipalities and a place to exchange experiences and cooperate on different thematic issues. SALAR is continuously supporting the Association in its aim to become an active and democratic organization and to promote the interests of its members.

Challenges to newly established local governments

In light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, strong and capable local governments took a decisive role in providing support and services to war-struck citizens and have been strengthening the resistance in their communities. At the same time, there are clear tendencies of centralization in times of war, which challenges the newly established powers of local governments. In this situation, the project has continued to work closely with national and local government levels, to analyze and provide advice on how the decentralised governance model could be preserved. The political and financial capabilities to continue to provide services to inhabitants during the war needed to be safeguarded. In particular, the project has sought to ensure the continuation of public finance to enable local governments to provide primary and secondary education.

Focus areas since the war

As a direct response to the war, the project has piloted models for economic development of small communities in the western region of Ukraine. The pilots have supported hromadas to learn from each other’s experiences in dealing with the direct challenges of war. Immediate challenges have been: integration of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and provision of schooling to children as well as cuts in the local government budgets.

Another current priority has been to advocate for and support the inclusion of local governments in strategic discussions and processes regarding resilience, recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine, both on national and international level. In addition, DSP has supported the dialogue between local governments themselves by assisting them to become to build their capacity and become more strategic. To do this, the project has created meeting venues for representatives from different hromadas which has enabled alignment and understanding of current concerns and priorities.

A third focus area has been the “United for Ukraine” initiative. This is a campaign with the goal to help to establish long-standing partnerships between Ukrainian communities and peer-communities abroad. It is envisioned that these partnerships will provide help to communities during wartime, assist to rebuild Ukraine's cities, towns and villages after the war and help hromadas to develop their potential in a long-term perspective. Closer ties to EU municipalities is also expected to benefit the integration of Ukraine in the European Union and access to EU’s pre-accession aid. Key partners in setting up the campaign was SALAR / SALAR International, the Chamber of Local Self-Governments under the President’s Regional Development Council, AATC and the City Institute of Lviv.

More information


Anna G:son Berg
Project manager DSP

Nathalie Bekier
Deputy project manager DSP