Social dialogue and community development in the Donbas are in focus of IOM activities

1 September 2015

The armed conflict in the Donbas has significantly changed the political, economic and social palette of the region, adding new problems to all key facets of life. A new type of communities evolved in post-conflict areas, consisting not only of local residents and returnees, but also of internally displaced persons (IDPs). According to various estimates, there are approximately 1.5 million IDPs in the country.

IOM Ukraine is implementing a number of projects to assist IDPs, facilitate the development of the conflict-affected regions and to prevent social tensions at the community level. One of these is "Support to Community Stabilization in the Donbas", funded by the Government of Japan. Eight communities in Donetsk and Luhansk regions have been selected to participate in the project and contribute to improving local social infrastructure objects and strengthening social cohesion.

For example, in the front-line city of Artemivsk, whose 50,000 registered IDPs constitute one-third of the population, the Central City Library will be renovated. It needs new windows because the old ones were knocked out during the war. The premises will also be adapted to the needs of people with disabilities. All community members will be able to use the library after refurbishment, including IDPs and the less able.

IOM conducted a series of trainings on community development for initiative groups composed of local residents and IDPs in Svyatohirsk, Kramatorsk, Druzhkivka, Kostiantynivka, Artemivsk, Lysychansk and Borivske. Following the training, the initiative groups develop the social cohesion project plans, which will be implemented with the support of IOM. Communities were also instructed by IOM specialists on  how to involve additional resources to be able to implement any social ideas that match their needs.

Several representatives of the initiative group of Lysychansk shared their impressions after the training.

Olena Ivanova, local resident: "It was the first time I participated in a training of such a level and I was very impressed. I work in the sphere of education and have been working with many different projects since 2002, but I have not met such professionalism in my hometown. I got a lot of practical knowledge and skills that I will definitely use in my daily activities."

Natalia Alexei, internally displaced person from Horlivka: "The information was provided in a very interesting format. The coach is a professional, who managed to literally expand our thinking in the right direction. This training is really motivating for drafting social cohesion ideas in our new community."

The final, eighth training, will be held in Severodonetsk from 8 to 10 September 2015. The initiative group to participate in the training has been already formed, so IOM Ukraine’s team is actively preparing for a fruitful meeting with representatives of the local community.