Self-reliance is a new trend in Sumy? Civic activism in the oblast has grown while expectations from the state are low

In Sumy oblast, 12% of the citizens are actively engaged in the lives of their communities – twice as much as regular participants of the activities organized by civil society. Half of the Sumy residents have not felt any consequences of reforms so far, while almost 40% expect the impact no sooner than in 6 years.

Pact presents these and other key findings of the National Civic Engagement Poll, conducted in summer 2021 under the USAID/ENGAGE Activity. Since 2019, Pact has been biannually collecting additional data under the poll from its four target oblasts – Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Sumy, and Kherson.

The Latest Round of the Civic Engagement Poll

Civic Engagement: Local issues dominate the landscape

Sumy oblast residents are way more interested in the lives of their communities than in the activities of CSOs. 12% of respondents claim to regularly attend meetings and other public events of their communities while one-third (32%) joins rarely. Lack of time and interest have similar weight (28% and 27% respectively) as the main reasons not to participate. 6% of respondents actively joined the work of the civil initiatives. 20% more paid occasional participation. The lack of time prevails for 39%, while 35% were uninterested.

Engagement in civic activities is a weak point for the Sumy oblast citizens. Similar to national polling results, they are generally familiar with the ways they can interact with the authorities and assert their rights. Nevertheless, they rarely act. Participation in peaceful assembly for a specific cause is the most popular form of participation – 10% of respondents joined street actions during the last 12 months. Other ways of democratic participation – even those popular throughout Ukraine like creation of a housing, street, or block committee or participation in its activities (10%) – are not employed by the Sumy citizens and fall beyond the margin of error.

Citizen Donations: Sumy residents are open to financial support to CSOs

CEP revealed that the citizens from the Sumy oblast are active givers, but CSOs are not considered as primary beneficiaries – 71% have never donated to civic initiatives. Instead, majority of respondents prefer to financially support army (62%), churches (55%), orphanages or critically ill (48%).

Contrary to the national polling, the state is considered to be the key funder of civil society – 54% of the Sumy residents think so. Next come well-off people or businesses (43% equally) and the citizens those initiatives stand for (28%).

Among the top motives that can persuade Sumy oblast residents to donate are public reporting of expenses (23%), being acquainted with the people who implement the initiative (20%) as well as clear goals and results of the organization (20%). Meanwhile, 27% of Sumy residents are not ready to contribute to a cause that they believe in or an organization they trust.

Attitude toward Reforms: Expectations Drift Away\

In the eyes of the Sumy oblast residents, poverty and unemployment are strikethrough issues for their families (61% and 37%), oblast (56% and 38%), and state (50% and 29%). Corruption has also made its way to the top three for the state (41%) and the region (32%).

Sumy residents are also more pessimistic about the outcomes of reforms. As many as 54% have not experienced any consequences of reforms yet. The outlook for any tangible outcome is neither positive. Majority of respondents expect to feel the consequences of reforms no sooner than in at least 4-5 years (39%) or even longer (39%).

Attitudes towards corruption of Sumy residents coincide with the inconsistent opinion voiced by most Ukrainians. Although 78% believe that corrupt officials should be removed from offices (Ukraine – 91%). 58% believe that if one can resolve an issue with a public servant by using a reward, most people will do so (Ukraine – 66%). While 84% opine that anyone who offers a bribe must bear the same responsibility as the one who takes it, 49% of respondents are convinced that they will not get proper access to healthcare or higher education unless they pay a bribe (65% and 49% in Ukraine, respectively).

Civic Literacy: Sumy residents puzzled by budgeting and law adoption

Sumy residents, many Ukrainians alike, are typically aware of their fundamental rights and the structure of power. However, they stumbled over the questions regarding budgeting procedures on the national and local level. In contrast with the rest of Ukraine, only 46% know that the Verkhovna Rada adopts the state budget (Ukraine – 68%). 56% are aware that local councils are in charge of approving community budgets (Ukraine 82%). Some of the respondents also struggled to identify a top legislature of Ukraine – 47% answered that it is the Verkhovna Rada (70% in Ukraine).


This survey summary was prepared by Pact as part of the USAID/ENGAGE activity, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this survey summary are the sole responsibility of Pact and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

About the CEP 

The Civic Engagement Poll is conducted under the framework of the Enhance Non-Governmental Actors and Grassroots Engagement activity (USAID/ENGAGE), implemented by Pact. This report summarizes key takeaways from the poll, drawing from survey data collected in the autumn of 2021.

The survey gauges citizen awareness of and engagement in civil society activities, and citizens’ participation in and perception of reform processes in Ukraine. During the most recent survey, respondents were also asked questions on the fundamentals of state functioning, human rights, and financial literacy.

The data collection for the USAID/ENGAGE Civic Engagement Poll was conducted by the research agency Info Sapiens, in August – September of 2021. Field interviews were conducted with Ukrainian residents aged 18 years and older, face-to-face, in the respondents’ homes. The survey sampled 312 respondents and was designed in accordance with the distribution of the adult population of the Sumy oblast by age, sex, and settlement type according to the data of the State Statistics Service of Ukraine as of January 1, 2019. The margin of error of the sample is 5.7% (excluding the design effect).

Find more results from the Civic Engagement Poll:

Winter 2021    Summer 2020     Winter 2020   Summer 2019     Winter 2019    Summer 2018    Winter 2018    Autumn 2017  

You can download survey data and charts here.