Implemented in 2014-2017 and managed by Solidarity Fund PL, the Polish-Canadian Democracy Support Program was a joint initiative and an expression of the will of both countries to support democracy in Ukraine. Launched in June 2014 (only three months after the Euromaidan events), the scheme aimed to engage Ukrainian citizens in creating efficient, trustworthy, and law-abiding democratic institutions, especially local self-governments and independent media. The project budget for three years was CAD 6.3M (with Canada contributing 2/3 of the funds and Poland 1/3).
The programme provided co-financing for 40 Polish-Ukrainian projects selected in open grant competitions which were carried out by Polish and Ukrainian partners (NGOs, local authorities, and media). Additionally, in 2017 six small projects of Ukrainian media received support and 58 seminars for consolidated hromadas were organised. The projects were complementary to Ukrainian reforms. Their objective was to support the process of merging of hromadas, creating their development strategies, strengthening the dialogue between the citizens and the authorities, stimulating the mechanism of self-governments’ social councils, and preparing self-government workers for their new duties. The projects also initiated the introduction of participatory budgeting in Ukrainian cities. Media-oriented projects included providing media assistance (e.g. investigative journalism, managing media business, raising awareness of self-government reform), material resources (i.a. for publishers and journalists forced out of Crimea and war-stricken Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts), as well as technical support (e.g. equipment for radio broadcasting to areas where Ukraine had lost control).
Canadian evaluation revealed that the Ukrainian beneficiaries of the programme considered it to be an innovative and flexible initiative, well adjusted to Ukrainian conditions. It was complementary to other Polish and Canadian programmes, such as the PLEDDGE programme implemented by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
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