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Bad roads perturb residents of Luhansk oblast more than the relations with officials and military
City of Starobilsk in Luhansk oblast Photo: uk.wikipedia.org
City of Starobilsk in Luhansk oblast

In June, 2015 the Stakhanivsky Community Law Center at NGO “Vybor” conducted the sociological research “Problems of Communities in Starobilsky District” in the city of Starobilsk in Luhansk oblast and surrounding villages. Inhabitant of both the city and district recognized the transport and communication problems to be the most acute. In the list of acute enough issues there is also a problem communication with military personnel.

- Research was not aimed at identifying the acuteness of various problems of the population only, but also at analyzing the interaction of local governments and communities in the district, - one of authors of research, MSc in sociology Olga Petrenko says.

In general representatives of CLC questioned 400 people: Starobilsk's inhabitants and 27 villages in the district. The representative sample based on types of settlements (city/village), age and gender.

The respondents were asked to grade the acuteness of the problem from 1 to 5 in various spheres of community life: 1 - very acute, needs the prime solution; 2 - rather acute; 3 - middle acute; 4 - rather not acute; 5 – no such problem.

Transport problems are the most acute both for the city and for the village

-          Inhabitants of rural communities gave the following estimates to the list of problems below (arithmetic mean of estimates of problems from the most acute to the least burning issues):

-          Road condition – 1.4, very acute problem;

-          Transport connection of the village with other settlements – 2.2 (rather acute problem);

-          Informing village residents of work and decisions of regional authorities – 2.3;

-          Problem of garbage removal and unauthorized dumps– 2.3;

-          Informing village residents of work and decisions of rural authorities – 2.5;

-          Attitudes of regional officials towards village residents – 2.7;

-          Providing with coal, firewood for heating – 2.7;

-          Opportunity for children to use kindergarten - 3 (middle acuteness);

-          Condition of mobile and stationary telephone overage, Internet coverage – 3.3;

-          Attitudes of rural officials towards inhabitants of the district – 3.4;

-          Satisfaction of cultural needs (libraries, club, etc.) – 3.4;

-          Opportunity to receive medical care in rural communities – 3.5;

-          Condition of water supply – 3.9.

- Respondents consider the problem of opportunity for children to get to schools rather not acute (4), relationship with military personnel (4.4), relationship with IDPs (4.5) and a condition of gasification of settlements (4.5).

- As we see from answers, though transport problems and problems of bad roads are number one concern, problems of communication and interaction of the population with local government bodies are also rather acute, - the sociologist notes.

Residents of Starobilsk also specified the transport problems as the most acute:

-          Road condition (1.7);

-          Lack of city transport (1.9);

-          Transport connection of city with other settlements (2.1).

Communication problems between authorities and community are also acute enough:

-          Informing residents of work and decisions of regional authorities (2.1) and city authorities (2.2);

-          Satisfaction of cultural needs is rather acute problem (libraries, movie theaters, etc.) (2,2),

-          Attitudes of regional officials towards residents (2.4) and attitudes of city officials towards residents (2.5).

Relationship with military is in the list of acute enough issues

Relationship of inhabitants with military personnel is also the acute enough problem by average estimates (2.5), a condition of streets, domestic territories, parks and squares (2.5), garbage removal, unauthorized dumps (2.6), medical care (2.8), relationship with IDPs (2.8), condition of sphere of housing and municipal services(water supply, power supply) (2.8). Respondents defined the following spheres of social services as middle acute (3), availability of kindergartens (3), condition of kindergartens (3.2) and schools (3.4). It appeared that residents of Starobilsk were more critical in their estimating than residents of villages.

How community estimates its activity

In response to the question “How do you estimate the level of participation of community in decision-making of bodies of local government, community property management?” the questioned residents of the district gave the following answers: high level – 2.5%, average level – 28.7%, low level – 31.5%, community does not participate in adoption of such decisions at all – 10.8%, it is hard to say – 26.4%.

Also people were asked what forms of influence on decision-making by regional, city/village council and regional state administration respondents or their acquaintances were involved in for the last year. “Participation in meetings with local deputies/deputy” option was chosen by 14.1%, “Participation in meetings with officials of regional state administration” - 6%, “Individual or collective appeals to authorities or certain deputies” – 6.5%, “Participation in public hearings” – 9.8%, “Participation in meetings and mass actions” – 7.1%, “Addressing to local government via mass media” - 4%; “Presence at meetings of city/village or regional council or district state administration” - 4%, “Presence at meetings of city/village or regional council or district state administration” – 3.8%. Option “Neither me, nor my surroundings did not participate in community influencing on decision-making process by city/village council and regional council or state administration” was chosen by vast majority of respondents – 66.2%.

Sources of information

The following answers are received to the question “What sources did you mainly use to receive information about activity of local councils and Starobilsky district state administrations for the last year?” (it was possible to choose several versions of the answer):

  • Local newspaper “Vestnik Starobilshchiny” – 33.1%
  • Local newspaper “Telegazeta” - 49%
  • Local television – 14.6%
  • Internet – 38.5%
  • From friends and acquaintances – 50.8%
  • At meetings with members of local governments and officials – 8.2%
  • Did not receive such information at all – 3.8%.

- It is remarkable that the first place by prevalence was received by obtaining information of activity of local governments from the surroundings, though this channel often bears the distorted and incomplete information. Overwhelming use only of this channel is a symptom of insufficiently developed channels of communication between community and local government, - Olga Petrenko considers.

The obtained data testify to considerable demand of district communities for obtaining information of activity of local councils and the district state administration, establishment of communication between them and the population of the district.

P.S. Community Law Centers are created and work in the framework of the "Legal aid to the poor and vulnerable groups” Initiative with the financial support of the “Human Rights and Justice” Program Initiative of the International Renaissance Foundation. Read more about activity of Community Law Center network, basics and principles of work on the portal "Legal Space".

The opinion of the International Renaissance Foundation cannot coincide with the point of view of authors of publication.

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