USAID/ENGAGE Special Newsletter: Missing out on Opportunities? Despite Potential Benefit, Citizens Are Skeptical About Engaging in CSO Activities or Supporting Them Financially

“A single man is a crowd, and a crowd is a single man,” Democritus, a Greek philosopher, once said. This famous wisdom may raise debates, but no one would deny the importance of collective opinion. Understanding citizens’ voices gives us a better chance to gain their trust and develop priorities. What do Ukrainians do for their communities and the state? What do they expect from others? Do they have basic civic literacy? You will find the answers to these and other questions in the recent wave of the Civic Engagement Poll. In this special issue of our newsletter, we picked several findings to show you the main sentiments of the Ukrainian people. Be the first to engage and check the latest insights!

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Local priorities or national goals? Our poll revealed that Ukrainians more eagerly engage in the lives of their communities than in the activities of CSOs or state-level forms of democratic participation. While 36% of respondents joined various community events, 19% were involved in the activities of CSOs during the last 12 months. 10% participated in the creation of a housing, block, or street committee or joined its work, 7% of the citizens walked out in a peaceful protest, and 6% flagged infrastructure problems to a local government or participated in a public hearing. Citizens’ participation in addressing issues of national significance is the lowest. An equal share of 1% of the Ukrainians discussed bills at the national and local levels or reported corruption to the Prosecutors` office.

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The culture of giving in Ukraine. Does it exist? The latest findings of our poll give us a glimpse of hope that the desire to help others is not alien to our fellow citizens. 22% of respondents made any donations during the past 12 months. Church (66%), street beggars (63%), and the army (60%) are top recipients of citizens’ voluntary financial contributions. 11% of the citizens donated to civic initiatives. The majority of the respondents opine that rich people (58%), businesses (49%), and the state (49%) should provide funding to CSOs. Ukrainians acknowledge that citizens should also be involved. Thus, 44% of respondents think that citizens whose interests civic initiatives represent should fund it. The least number of respondents (9%) believe that foreign governments should be the source of funding for CSOs.

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Ukrainians draw a sharp line between reform priorities for the state and themselves. According to our respondents, corruption (50%), the crisis in the Donbass (42%), and poverty (37%) are the top three areas that require reforms for Ukraine. When it comes to reforming spheres that are important for their families, Ukrainians prioritize poverty (47%), access to healthcare (36%), and unemployment (34%). When talking about corruption, Ukrainians demonstrate a certain inconsistency. A sweeping majority (91%) agree that it is necessary to remove corrupt officials from their office, but 66% of the respondents believe that if one can resolve an issue with a public servant using a reward, most people in Ukraine will try to take advantage of this. Another 59% believe that bribery is an integral part of the Ukrainian mentality.

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While Ukrainians are generally aware of the fundamental rights, structure of power, and budgeting procedures, respondents are confused about the mandate of the local government. The majority of citizens are aware that Constitution contains the formulation of the fundamental rights of Ukrainians (84%) and know that people are the source of state power (57%). On the other hand, only 25% correctly named local bodies of executive power. The respondents also stumbled on the question regarding the legal authorization of peaceful assemblies. The share of those who think that local authorities must greenlight a demonstration constituted 62%.

More data

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