Karyna Litvinova is a fellow of the EU-funded Eastern Partnership Civil Society Fellowship Programme. She is a member of the E-Democracy Support Group the ‘Reanimation Package of Reforms’ and a co-author of an online course on digital social activism. Karyna is also the editor-in-chief of the digital blogging community Digitle.
For some time, the young woman was involved in academic research in the areas of international diplomacy and conflict science. Later, when she had a baby, she had the motivation to do something to make the country more pleasant to live in.
“I got interested in issues of citizens’ participation in decision making, their possibilities to influence local development,” says the activist.
Karyna started researching the issue and got involved with the team of the Innovation Development Centre, which promotes e-democracy tools and electronic services that can improve the lives of those living in the communities, towns, settlements and villages of Ukraine.
The essence of the project is to show people everything that electronic services, petitions and addresses can do, starting with the simplest things such as registering with day-care services.
In order to include as many communities as possible, more knowledge, experience and funding was needed. Karyna therefore decided to apply for the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Facility fellowship.
“In order to apply for the EU project, we developed a project proposal with a clear implementation plan. In order to do that, I researched the electronic services available in over 700 communities at the time. Then, I showed all the services on one national map, so that people could see everything at once. The third stage involved cooperation with representatives of the communities interested in developing electronic services,” Karyna explains.
Karyna and her team applied in March 2018. They managed to get €5,000 for the development of the project.
“However, in reality, in this case the money is not as important as the EU’s comprehensive support,” Karyna emphasises.
She says that thanks to the programme she managed to get involved with a network of activists from the six Eastern Partner countries, leading to several meetings being organised where she could speak with her colleagues and share experience, which was very useful and important.
The project received constant support as well: “We were submitting reports during the year on how we were moving forward, what we were planning to do. And we always received advice and support. There were thematic trainings, meetings, so that we could improve our work.”
In addition, the fellowship allowed fellows to have a mentor or choose an internship in another country to see how things are done there and exchange experience.
“We have created an online platform which unites state officials so that they are able to see the database of electronic services available in Ukraine,” Karyna says.
In total, there are 350 services in Ukraine and activists have posted information about each one of them.
“Our system also allows [users to] see what services are working in every town, assess them and leave a comment,” Karyna explains.
The project managed to cover all 700 communities that were there at the time. Also, thanks to the programme and the project, Karyna and her team managed to get support from various partners.
“We organised hackathons where we shared experience and came up with IT solutions which can help the community to solve its problems,” Karyna says.
She is convinced that decentralisation will definitely give Ukrainians a chance to live better, and says electronic services help development to happen as quickly as possible.
Author: Uliana Bukatiuk
This story was first published by the EU Neighbours East project.