Where Ukrainian and German districts have initiated or already begun a partnership, Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW) offers a range of tools for support, explains Olena Ovcharenko, who leads Service Agency’s Municipal Partnerships with Ukraine project. The tools are provided by the BMZ.
Dr Eberhard Kettlitz from Gudensberg advises Ukrainian districts to send “Ukrainian ambassadors” to Germany to set up contacts and describe real life in Ukraine today. He stresses that “Ukrainians can tell Germans their personal stories, and these always make more of an impact than media reports.” Kettlitz also points out that he is aware of high levels of interest in German municipalities in helping Ukraine, but the Germans often don’t know where to start. “Ambassadorial visits” of this kind could therefore help build bridges between municipalities in Ukraine and Germany.
Olena Ovcharenko explains that Service Agency supports trips like this to make contacts and share experiences in Germany and Ukraine. “Partners often need time to get to know each other, so I strongly recommend taking trips like this. They are a chance for teams from potential partner cities to meet, get to know one another and work out which topics they could potentially work on together in future.”
Georg Ludwig from Lindlar urges German districts looking for a partner district in Ukraine to get in touch with Engagement Global’s Service Agency. “They’re the right place and it’s the right first step. If you contact the Service Agency team, there’s a good chance you’ll find a real partnership,” he says.
Partnerships looking for ways of accessing financial support for their projects can apply to the Municipal Development Policy Small Projects Fund or the Nakopa project, which supports sustainable municipal development through partnership projects, explains Olena Ovcharenko. “Our Small Projects Fund provides financial support worth up to €50,000. During Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, we’ve simplified it and adapted it to the needs of Ukraine. German municipalities can apply for urgently needed aid for their partner cities in Ukraine through projects just like these. The projects must be completed within one year,” Ovcharenko explains.
Nakopa funds more complex partnership projects which can run for up to three years. “Projects of this kind must include an element related to sustainable development, such as helping the environment, promoting sustainable waste management, and improving water supplies. This can be linked to projects related to reconstruction in Ukraine. The projects can receive up to €250,000 over three years. However, if you are in a new partnership, we’d recommend starting with a smaller budget of up to €100,000, for instance. When approving applications we assess each partnership’s prior experience in cooperation,” Ovcharenko says.
In conclusion we’d like to pick up on some words of Dr Georg Ludwig, Mayor of Lindlar: “Ukraine is fighting for all of us. Freedom and democracy motivate us to help.” In communications with Ukrainian partner cities, the sincere gratitude towards German partners for their support in the war is always tangible.