ІТ Approaches to Support Local Council Operations in Muzykivska Consolidated Community

Co-Authors: Liudmyla Pogribna, Local Council Secretary at Muzykivska CC; Ashley Bravo Garcia, CD PCV, Peace Corps Ukraine; SocialBoost and the National Democratic Institute, USAID DOBRE partners. 

The Muzykivska community, which was established in 2016, later consolidated with Skhidnenska village, when community residents started exploring ideas for a new website. The goal was in part to help establish a strong connection between the two communities, which are a far distance from each other. Muzykivska Village Council had had its own website since 2010, but had not been updated very often; its complex structure prevented most staff from actually working on it. 

In 2017, Muzykivska consolidated community (CC) joined Cohort#1 of the CCs participating in USAID DOBRE Program and became one of the pilot projects to implement the DOSVIT website platform, created by DOBRE partner SocialBoost. Close cooperation with SocialBoost specialists facilitated the building of a brand new website which could be easily updated and accessed, thus serving as a useful communication tool among local governance representatives, CC residents and partners. 

When the new website launched, the Village Council staff pointed out several essential advantages of it including:  

  • The ability to more easily publish documents of various types.
  • The improved organization of forms through links and tags.
  • The removal of the need for hard copies of documents.
  • The accessibility of information at any time.

Vitaliya Rtischeva, Finance Specialist from Muzykivska Village Council, explains: “It has an easy to follow structure – and there is an opportunity to quickly locate a necessary document just in a few seconds. It allows plugging in a wide range of applications related to e-democracy and accountability. There is a huge opportunity to plug in other critical services, such as participatory budgets and ProZorro, an online platform that ensures open access to public procurement in Ukraine. This website helps underscore the community capacity among investors and partners. It is truly a convenient resource to learn more about the CC, to know what goes on here through recent news updates, as well as to utilize available electronic services (Hromadsky Project, DOBRE.Pytannia and Dosvit).”

As it turned out, the work with the platform is not difficult and does not require a lot of time. Moreover, currently at the Muzykivska CC Local Council Website the following components are publicized:

  • news updates - 587 (link);
  • documents - 2,011  (link);
  • projects - 4  (link);
  • Google analytics audience –1251 (on average per month);
  • website subscribers - 5,737.

Liudmyla Pogribna, Village Council secretary, coordinates the data updates and posting at the website. She says:

“I find it very convenient to independently post the data on the website, including the information that I come across or create. Even at the stage of approval with the Head of the village, I can post the draft order without passing it down to another specialist. I have an individual system of document titles, which I could not be able to build on my own if not working with the website. Every day I update the existing structure of the online documentation – I add another tag or additional description along with the titles of specific resolutions. I have worked in detail with all the Local Council session resolutions concerning land and typed in the names of applicants. Now by searching his or her name, everyone can find a relatable document. I like our website for its features, allowing me not to be the main information delivery manager at our Local Council.”

Notably, in 2018-2020 Community Development Peace Corps Volunteer Ashley Bravo Garcia served at Muzykivska CC Village Council and collaborated with counterparts in the field on efficient website optimization. Ashley emphasized that with Google data analytics, one could easily access concrete information about the website audience. Other innovative aspects of the analytics include:

  • More details: what day of the week has the most website visits (Mondays). It also provides a great visualization of their primary audience (women in the 25-45 age group).
  • Close monitoring: insights from Google Analytics account coincide with those from the Council's Facebook page. The data is checked on a monthly basis to monitor any trends in the engagement of the target audience and pinpoint what type of content they interact with most.
  • Consistency:  keeping the website up to date to establish its reputation as a reliable and official primary source.
  • Outreach activities: critical notifications for the CC. For example, a Citizen Budget is on its second year, and residents are familiar with the concept of the program and outreach method.

In addition, local governance representatives are actively working on the visual identity of the CC. In this regard they

The website functions as the platform for an extensive amount of actions and plans. Through the standard colors and techniques, they connect all available communication outlets such as CC Facebook pages, CC websites, CC Youtube Channels and others.  

Liudmyla Pogribna adds: “I plan to make the CC informative presentation more active, though not imposing; logical, though not super official; aesthetic, though energy efficient. Transparency, working with open data and statistical procedures are the strong points that will definitely attract potential investors.”

Also, inspired by the national campaign by USAID DOBRE partner, the National Democratic Institute project “Women are 50% of Ukraine's Success” during the quarantine, in Muzykivska CC they implemented own large-scale project, "Women are 50% of Muzykivska CC Success." They conducted interviews with nine women who are active in the community and published the interviews on the CC website. Local residents were interested to learn the opinions and achievements of the heroines.

Alina Misiura, Head of Skhidnenska School, said: “I really liked the format of the interview. I was the first participant and expected to hear standard questions related to my work. However, putting aside the cliché, in my opinion, the questions encouraged respondents to open up more as personalities and became more interesting for the readers.”

The implemented information initiative became “the first milestone” and helped inform the planning of other interesting activities. The Village Council specialists promote the new website opportunities more: for instance, under the quarantine conditions it became typical to submit petitions online, so for local youth they prepared a positive and encouraging video instruction. Within the current year, they plan to launch the E-petitions application.

However, once again, it is important not only to explain to the residents how to technically utilize this application, but what Local Council future steps are while considering the submitted proposals, and how the active community members’ engagement and IT-approaches will enhance the  CC development, in general.

This story was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Global Communities and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.