“RE-Forming European” campaign highlights the experience of Top-Kaya’s partner projects

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On 25 May 2016, the European Information Centres network held the second interregional web conference in the framework of the public campaign “RE-Forming European”. The participants, among them NGOs, local authorities and media representing five Ukrainian regions: Chernivtsi, Kherson, Vinnytsia, Khmelnytsky and Dnipro oblasts, learned about new opportunities for regional development, including small infrastructure projects.

As the main reference, they used the success story of the project “Design the change: Modernization of the public space in Hola Prystan, Kherson oblast” implemented by the Polish Development Policy Foundation jointly with the Ukrainian Regional Development Centre “Top-Kaya” and the design group “+48” from Warsaw, with local authorities’ support. The tangible result of the project concerned the construction of a modern city waterfront stop for local ferries. The preparation and implementation stages of the project were elucidated to the web conference participants by Wojtek Szpocinski, the head of the Development Policy Foundation. The Fund cooperates with NGOs from around the globe and supports particular initiatives for the development of infrastructure and public space.

Thus, within the project in Hola Prystan, the Fund representatives met community activists and authorities. The project created a platform titled GOPRI+ to collect data about the main problems in the city – it was an interactive map, on which local residents could mark the spots where infrastructure was poor, and submit questions that need to be solved. This allowed to determine five most problematic areas. Local residents then voted to select the top priority one. This turned out to be the river embankment, where it was decided to build a stop for water transport. The stop was created according to an original design project using modern technologies. It is expected to become not only an infrastructure object, but also a popular social facility – a place where people could meet, relax and communicate.

According to Wojtek Szpocinski, the Polish Development Policy Foundation is ready to assist Ukrainian non-governmental organizations in finding partners, writing projects and raising funds, but these NGOs need to be proactive, to clearly identify their needs, to offer ideas and solutions that could attract investors and indicate what concrete results will be achieved. Donor are particularly interested in supporting projects aimed at the development and promotion of original local products, culinary, crafts, agriculture and others, he said. This can help develop the tourism industry, and bring in significant financial income.

However, writing successful projects requires good knowledge of English, Wojtek Szpocinski said. Otherwise, it is difficult to find a major investor who could support innovative ideas.

The head of the Development Policy Foundation confirmed his support and assistance to event participants, and suggested them to write about their activities, directions, and specific problems they want to solve.

Lilia Khalavka