Vesele. The Hromada of environmental (green) initiatives

Podniprovia and Zaporizhzhia
Space Transformation
19 September 2019 18:00

Residents of the Veselivska Hromada aren’t afraid of being proactive and working on collaborative and experimental projects. Currently, they are building a solar power plant at the site of a deserted landfill. Due to the modernization help of Swedish experts, Vesele has recently opened an Administrative Service Center. The Hromada is the first in Ukraine to buy and use a mobile waste sorting line. Schoolchildren have an opportunity to grow vegetables in greenhouses, learn to manage a hromada through board games, and record broadcasts of their own on the local radio station.

The Hromada

The Veselivska Amalgamated Hromada was created in fall 2015. The communities united around the village Vesele, in Zaporizhzhia, 48 kilometres from Melitopol.

Over three years its budget has tripled: from 25 million hryvnias in 2015 to over 80 million hryvnias in 2018. The budget revenue comprises of income tax, fixed tax, and local taxes.

In the village Shyroke, on the territory of the Hromada, operates an enterprise UKRAINIAN FLIGHT ACADEMY CHEMICAL AIRCRAFT TECHOLOGIES LLC. It builds aircraft and has a flight school that trains pilots-to-be from all over the world. An entrepreneur Vasyl Kireyev has founded a company “Azov Auto Shop” in Vesele that manually assembles replica of famous British cars from 1950s Lotus Super Seven and Shelby Cobra.

The head of Veselivska Hromada Petro Kiyashko says that the strategic plan of Hromada development got framed back in 2014. Among the priorities is the development of small business:

The Hromada has to create an environment where everyone can fit in. If we are guided by this principle nobody will have to leave and the number of jobs will increase. We are working on creating conditions for this aim. We work on providing 24-hour water supply since just three years ago the centralized water supply was available only 7 hours a day. We are working on street lighting on every street and road repair. As soon as these three issues are solved the small business will make its way into the community.

Veselivska Hromada is planning to create agricultural sector opportunities for business. A dried skim milk factory successfully operates in Vesele and plans to expand. The community in the village Novooleksandrivka is planning on building a dribble irrigation system for growing vegetables and berries. A refrigeration facility and a farmer’s market are going to be built in the center of Vesele. The Hromada is striving to create more workplaces and increase villagers’ income:

I think Ukraine has great prospects. We should pay less attention to the “people in government” because it turns out that everyone knows the president’s name but not many know the name of the head of the village. At the local level, we have everything: good and bad things. We are not worse than Europeans. They are better organized and more law-obedient because they know that law violation is punishable. In Ukraine, unfortunately, people often violate the law. It is wrong. If one can selectively violate the law we will get nowhere.

The Veselivska Hromada consists of 7 villages. The overall number of inhabitants is 13 thousand people. The head of the Hromada says that in the result unifying the community got in control of funds for providing gas supply, street lighting and centralized water supply in the villages; repairing and equipping schools.

— People were waiting for reforms. Today when I meet the villagers they don’t doubt our decision. Obviously it was the right decisionto take. It is a win-win situation for us. Over some time we have received 35 million hryvnias of investments and this is a huge amount for us. The main thing is that we were able to solve a lot of issues and we keep solving the ones that appear. However, we are not complacent. If we have achieved something today, tomorrow people will forget it. They will set up new goals.

Petro Kiyashko has been the head of the village council in Vesele for 30 years. He was born and grew up in the village Pasichna, in the Carpathians. In 1979 Petro came to Vesele and decided to settle here. The head of the Hromada believes that Ukraine will be able to go through all ordeals if every citizen will be able to get well-organized and come up with the ideas on how to be productive where they live:

Our task is to persuade people that they have to lead the way. It’s simple to make things look better around you, get rid of weeds next to your fence, paint and fix the fence. It is a chain reaction and you will see a result. Get up earlier and get to work. We need qualified professionals. Ukrainians have to ponder well on what they need and then get to work.

Hromada’s mini-factories

Veselivska Hromada has founded a municipal enterprise for the production of the asphalt-concrete mix for road repair and paving slabs. The firm provides necessary materials for the community and income for the local budget. Petro Kiyashko says that the enterprise operates since 2018 and over this time the workers are about to finish patchwork on 60 kilometres of the Vesele roads. The next task is to fix roads in the Hromada villages:

— Due to own production, we saved on road works about one million hryvnias last year. It’s a substantial amount of money for us. We have an opportunity now to carry out patchwork whenever we need and not when a contractor has available time. As a rule, we manage to cover all road pavement issues in four months, and this year we expect to spend at the most one month. Four people are working on this project. Their workday begins at 5 am while there is no traffic. They are looking for a street with a big degree of damage. They try to take care of all small damages as well to prevent them from turning into big holes.

The factory owns a mobile paving slab production line. The slab is used for pavements near the schools, kindergartens and other places. The head of the Hromada mentions that almost 20 kilometres of slab pavements were built in the villages of the Hromada. The production line provides workplaces and saves us money if to compare with the prices in Melitopol or Zaporizhzhia.

Photovoltaic power station

In March 2018 in the outskirts of Vesele was launched a solar power station “Solar Park Vesele”. It was built on the territory of a sizable landfill that was abandoned since the 90s. The head of the Hromada Petro Kiyashko says that it was a very challenging task to prepare a plot of land for this project. However, it was of utmost importance to facilitate the red tape process for the investor Solar Park Pidhorodnie LLC:

— There was much garbage stored back from Soviet times. We wouldn’t be able to clean out this territory ourselves. We had to find an investor that would agree to empty the area first of all. They could have found 20-30 hectares ready-to-build site and saved time and money. However, they confided in our ability to finalize all paperwork on the land in the shortest possible time. And we met the investor’s expectations. Allotting land plot for investment purposes is not an easy task. Any kind of settlement should have a general plan of settlement development. We were somewhat prepared because we started working on the general plan back in 2015. We just had to speed up and finish it as soon as possible.

The station’s capacity is 16 megawatts and it has 800 solar arrays each consists of 72 panels. The head of the Veselivska Solar Electric station Serhiy Yudin says that the station works at its full capacity during the year:

All generated power is transmitted to the power market of Ukraine. At the electrical substation, it is distributed. At this point, the station employs twelve people. Specially trained power engineers with obligatory experience of working at substation work here. The professionals of this kind are residents of Vesele and work at the station on a shift basis. If there were more stations like this all over Ukraine that would be a real success for our country.

Waste sorting line

This year the first in Ukraine mobile solid waste sorting line has started to operate in Veselivska Hromada. The sorting station equipment fits into a truck trailer, it was purchased on state subsidy and grant funding. With its assistance, the Hromada is planning to sort wastes from local landfills and illegal dumping.

The head of the Hromada Petro Kiyashko mentions that the idea to buy the sorting line of this kind appeared after the law adaptation on the waste processing in 2018. Engineers from Poltava came up with the design of the mobile line:

The Hromada is currently working on the draft of strategic energy development. This initiative comes from the Europen Commission. The sorting line is one of the elements of the plan fulfilment. The goal is to process the wastes to decrease the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. The best thing is that the equipment can process the wastes piling for 40 and even 50 years. We can organise a volunteer clean-up and when people collect all the wastes we would come with lorries and pick everything up. At this point, it all depends on our wish to work together with the villages where the littering situation is very bad 

The head of the municipal enterprise “Arus” Oleksandr Zhadan tells us that the mobile line is very easy to use and presupposes six workers. Sorted plastic, glass and scrap metal are pressed and taken for reprocessing:

— All our district has only one official landfill. There is an illegal dumping as well. The mobile station can come there anytime, go through the waste and halve it. We have purchased two sanitation trucks for the small house districts. It was tough at the beginning, but there is no way to quit since the people got used to it. If the truck is a bit late, the customer line gets busy. People get used to good things quickly.

Greenhouses at school

At the Vasylkivska school #1 with a biotech bias has been built two greenhouses. The vegetables grown by school students under the supervision of the experts are used at the school canteen and the flowers are used to embellish classrooms and public places in the village.

The school principal Nelia Artim tells us that the school used to have a greenhouse before but it came into disuse some time ago. The school prepared a project of a new greenhouse and the Hromada provided funds to build it. The objectives of the greenhouse are to assist in environmental education of the students and to give them practical skills in growing plants, that can be used for school and village landscaping:

— We have currently different kinds of seedlings. There are conifer bushes, parsley, cabbage seedlings, and several kinds of tomatoes. We also grow indoor plants to beautify the classrooms. There is a great number of flower seedlings: marigolds, floss flowers and petunias.

The students of middle and high school work in the greenhouses during the arts and crafts lessons and project groups workshops. The primary school students attend the greenhouses as part of field trips.

We have several project groups like “Young Veggie Growers”, “The World of Indoor Plants” that are attended by about 60 children. They learn how to grow plants in greenhouses. During the school year, our students and students from other schools of the Hromada visit the greenhouses and we organise workshop sessions for them. We are in the agricultural area and children should have practical skills. They have a place to exercise their skills. Some children are really into it and that’s great.

Administrative service center

In February 2018 in Vesele opened a modern Administrative Service Center providing services to the whole district (rayon) (population of 22 thousand people – ed.). The programme U-LEAD with Europe assisted with the center modernization. The head of the Center Tetiana Ovdiyenko tells us that before the refurbishment the center employed four specialists and provided 30 services, nowadays it employs 12 specialists and offers 111 services:

— We have purchased and currently work on the installation of equipment for issuing ID-cards and travelling passports. A lot of services are related to the social sphere, for instance, residence registration or land registry. The Pension Fund specialists, specialists of the service center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs provide vehicle registration and re-registration of driving licenses. Our residents don’t need to go to all bunch of different offices but come directly to the Center with all their questions. I think it’s very convenient. I would like everyone come here in a good mood and get all of their issues solved easily.

The popular services of residence registration and extract from the State Land Registry can be obtained in 10-15 minutes. The Center has all necessary equipment including self-service terminals and access to internet banking.

The head of Veselivska Hromada Petro Kiyashko says that the Hromada was the first in the region to participate in the Administrative Service Center modernization project. The residents of Vesele actively participate in international projects and education of specialists to manage the projects:

Supervisors of international projects expect integrity and assurance that the money of their taxpayers is going to work effectively. We talk them through all our actions. They see the seriousness of our intentions and believe we will complete everything we’ve started. We put all our efforts into the projects and do everything possible to achieve success. The key point is that we educate specialists that can work with investors. Winning a grant is just the first step, and we are aware of it. We guide a project and the investors can see that we follow their advice, they have a right to do so since it’s their money.

The Library, radio station and a Youth Hub

Veselivska Hromada has a central library for adults and a library for children, as well as five branches in the villages of the Hromada. The central library team faced the redundancy process, but the decision came in favor of preserving both the library and the staff. Today the team members of the learning resource center are working on local history books. The head librarian Olha Bondarenko says that they have already published six books and finalized five more. Currently, they are working on four more books:

— Each staff member picks a topic and gathers information. We have a great local history card index that provides us with the necessary data. We meet with locals, visit their homes, they tell us the stories and share old photographs. The title of the first published book is “Unforgotten” about the living participants of World War II. The other published books are “Honorary Citizens of Our Region”, “One Year as Hromada”, “Tourist Veselivshchyna”. The village librarians explore the history of the villages in the region. We publish 80-100 copies and they are usually used as gifts.

Since spring 2018 on the frequencies of the radio station “Promin” (the second national radio station in Ukraine) the Hromada radio station “Vesele FM” broadcasts every day for four hours. The radio hosts deliver local news for all villages of the Hromada, youth-oriented programs, classified advertisements, greetings radio show, as well as stories about the community members that participate in development of the Hromada. Yuriy Menzhynskyi, the technical maintenance staffer of the “Vesele FM”, has been interested in sound-broadcasting since middle school times. He told us that the station of this kind is the first in the region and is very ambitious about its future development:

— We want to be able to broadcast a signal at any time: Emergency message, all people have to gather at such and such place. We are located 40 kilometres from the nuclear power station (Zaporizhzhia Power station near the town Enerhodar – ed.) and we have to be prepared to such emergency alert. It’s one of the main tasks. The radio station is still very young and is not that popular as we would like it to be. However, we inform our audience about different issues and would like to become Hromada’s favorite radio station in half a year. There is a tower nearby and we plan on raising the antenna by 40 meters and to cover with broadcast not just our rayon (region) but way farther. We are on flat terrain so it’s doable.

A youth hub “PLATFORMA” operates in the library premises, it is equipped with furniture, a computer, an interactive board and a flip chart board for education and entertainment activities. The hub team member Anastasia Karpenkova says that the youth gathers here to play games, watch movies and learn something new.

A group of public speaking skills works as part of the hub where children learn the subject and record their broadcasts for the radio station. At the moment we are playing the board game “The World of Hromadas”. This game teaches the youth to communicate, develop leadership qualities, and promotes a conscientious lifestyle. We teach our young citizens to take part in the formation of public funds and put efforts into Hromada development. This is the way to make the Hromada not just a happy place but wealthy as well.

The material was created with the support of the Program “Ukraine – Local Empowerment, Accountability and Development” (U-LEAD with Europe) financed by European Union and its members: Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Poland and Sweden.

The material is prepared byAuthor:Natalia PonedilokAuthor:Bogdan LogvynenkoEditor:Yevgeniya SapozhnykovaProducer:Olga ShorPhoto:Dmytro BartoshCameraman:Mykyta ZavilinskyiCameraman:Pavlo PashkoCameraman:Oleksiy PanchenkoFilm editor:Yulia RublevskaDirector:Mykola NosokDirector:Liza LytvynenkoDesigner:Khrystyna BuniiPhoto editor:Oleksandr KhomenkoTranscriptionist:Natalia SandetskaTranslator :Victoria Sorochuk

19 September 2019 18:00