Key Takeaways from Workshop for CSO Partners on Citizen Engagement in Reconstruction

On March 13, ENGAGE hosted a technical knowledge-sharing workshop “Citizens’ Engagement in the Recovery and Reconstruction of Ukraine: Advancing and Learning Together.” 

The event brought together our partner CSOs actively engaged or interested in citizen involvement in recovery and reconstruction efforts. Through this gathering, ENGAGE partners deepened their understanding of available tools and strategies to bolster citizen engagement in recovery and reconstruction initiatives. 

“We are thrilled that this event successfully united a wide array of civil society organizations, each contributing to the shared objective of involving citizens in recovery and reconstruction efforts. Together, we consolidated existing practices of citizen engagement in reconstruction and assessed the alignment of current citizen engagement tools with the realities experienced by affected communities,” Valeria Ovcharova, USAID/ENGAGE recovery and reconstruction program Officer.

Key Insights from the Discussion: 

  • Both research findings and practical experiences of civil society organizations highlight persistent challenges hindering citizen engagement in Recovery and Reconstruction (R&R) efforts. These include a lack of political will among local authorities, an unregulated legal framework, and limited citizen awareness. 
  • There is a notable absence of consensus between CSOs and government authorities regarding the ideal model for citizen engagement in R&R. Evaluating citizen involvement typically occurs during project discussions, raising questions about the efficacy of this approach. As a preliminary step to ensure inclusivity, one of the potential solutions discussed was to start studying the motivations, interests and appropriate formats to meaningfully engage marginalized groups. 
  • Citizens tend to perceive negative cases even where there are none; apart from providing information, citizens are not ready for more active actions. CSOs could communicate more successful practices and projects achieved through collaboration with the government/local authorities and citizen engagement to reduce the level of skepticism among citizens. 
  • CSOs are encouraged to adopt a supportive role alongside “sharp monitoring,” enhancing their expertise to guide and collaborate effectively with local authorities. They can set examples for governmental bodies in citizen engagement practices. 
  • Recognizing that R&R efforts are community-centric, fostering collaboration with local entities like CSOs, unions, and non-formal initiatives is crucial for meaningful citizen engagement.