GIZ: German tools for Ukrainian potential

Author : 112.UA 112.UA

Respondent : Sabine Müller

Source : 112 Ukraine

Sabine Müller, Regional Director for Ukraine and Belarus of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), which provides international cooperation services for different countries‘ development, throws light on projects to support Ukraine’s reform, German internships for Ukrainian students and cooperation between Ukraine and Germany. Exclusively for 112.International.
13:38, 24 March 2016

112 International

How many Ukrainians participate in your Programs annually?

Are there any preferences to cities of origin (in terms of helping to develop not capital regions)? Who is the main target audience of the Programs – ones who are planning to cooperate with Germany in future (this is a point of application request, am I right), but not for everyone who is interested in development? What are the key points of selection process?

Commissioned by the German Government, GIZ has been at Ukraine’s side during its process of transformation since 1993. The current priorities of Germandevelopment cooperation are: democracy, civil society and public administration, decentralization, energy and sustainable economic development. Furthermore, German cooperation with Ukraine delivers effective assistance to the health sector, particularly with regard to HIV and AIDS prevention, and helps foster its crisis response capacity.

The projects implemented by GIZ, on behalf of our clients, employ many different methods and instruments. Some of our projects, for example, “Support to public finance management reforms”, work mainly, but not exclusively, on the central level of the government. Therefore, most of the target groups are state employees working in ministries or government agencies in Kyiv. They are professionals in a certain area and are selected usually by their superiors to be the best to be trained on a certain topic. Last year in the framework of this project approximately 1,000 members of the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian civil society were informed about European standards of governance. Besides this, the decentralization of the tax system, supported by this project, means that municipal budgets are 35% higher in 2015 than they were in 2014.

Other projects work directly on the municipal level. As a result of the project “Reform of municipal services in Eastern Ukraine”, 600,000 citizens now benefit from more efficient services, transparent fees and improved working procedures. Seven inter-municipal cooperation (IMC) projects are resulting in annual savings of EUR 250,000 for 30 cooperating communities.

Around 1,850 households have benefited from the project’s “municipal development and rehabilitation of the Old City of Lviv” co-financing programs for the restorations of courtyards, balconies, staircases, entrance doors and windows.

GIZ advises Ukraine by using numerous proven tools for a more efficient and cost efficient use of energy. Several municipalities have developed action plans that have already cut their energy bills by 5-10%. The energy consumption of the refurbished buildings is 50% lower than before. With the assistance of the project “Establishment of energy agencies in Ukraine”, Odessa was able to establish Ukraine’s first municipal energy agency. Energy experts and administrative staff of national ministries and the city of Odessa undertook study trips to Germany. During these trips they visited wind energy and solar parks and took part in lessons on the development of business plans for energy efficiency projects.

Within the “Special Initiative Ukraine” the German Government via GIZ helps the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (DSNS) and the Ukrainian Red Cross to be able to respond better to emergencies and crisis situations. DSNS has already received a delivery of a large shipment of technical equipment. This has sufficed to equip around 20% of rescue workers and has already significantly reduced the health risk to firefighters involved in operations in the eastern oblasts. The 5,000 emergency service workers in the eastern oblasts Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia now have 12 modern all-terrain ambulances at their disposal. This improves the situation of internally displaced persons, and receiving communities in eastern Ukraine. For around 500,000 internally displaced persons and the local population this means better access to emergency medical care. 

We also implement projects oriented on young people as within the project “HIV/AIDS advisory services and institutional capacity building”. 3,000 school children took part in Fair Play activities during the first six months of 2015. 70 schools joined the initiative. The ‘Don’t Give AIDS a Chance!’ campaign has reached millions of Ukrainians, both through the media and at numerous major events.

These are just some results testifying to the impact of projects implemented by the Ukrainian government with German support. The key to successful cooperation is the desire of Ukrainian partners to make a change and to invest own time and resources into making it.

After taking an internship in Germany what were the most striking and interesting comments of your participants?

Last year 48 Ukrainian students were given the opportunity for an internship in Germany within the project “Internship Program of German Business for Ukraine”.

The German-Ukrainian Manager Training Program prepares executives from Ukraine for the business relations and economic cooperation with German companies - with success for both sides. Each year, about 65 Ukrainian executives participate in this practice-oriented training. A total of around 800 Ukrainian leaders from different sectors of the economy have completed the Training Program in Germany successfully.

Could you please tell couple of words about Ukrainian characters that participate in Fit for partnership with Germany?

In the Manager Training Program of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy “Fit for partnership with Germany” entrepreneurs and managers with several years of management experience take part. They work at companies which are interested in business contacts and cooperation with Germany and other EU-countries. Most of them are private-sector small and medium sized enterprises. The participants are young, motivated, very well trained, with solid economic background, foreign learned, focused on problem solving, open to change, and usually English-speaking. They want to lead companies, are looking for opportunities in Ukraine and with the EU, are hungry for knowledge, are receptive for mediation of "western" values, and are focusing on globalization and economic change in their own company and country.

Does something make them different from those participants from other countries?

Participants from all countries are of the same mindset. They must be oriented towards change and are usually open to operate in new markets especially in Germany and the EU. They are disciplined, open-minded, and pragmatic, have a realistic picture of their chances and risks, and are under pressure to modernize. They possess great improvisational talent and a strong ability to adapt or modify.

If we look in a prospect of a current economic and politic situation, how would you characterize those participants?

They are nevertheless positive, hopeful, motivated to support their companies to grow and develop and make the most of the situation. They have the so called entrepreneurial spirit.

How would you evaluate the cooperation situation between Ukraine and Germany? Are there any changes, comparing today and before?

In the last two years cooperation between Germany and Ukraine has increased. Germany is providing a lot more financial and technical assistance than a few years ago. In 2015 government negotiations between Germany and Ukraine were held for the first time in four years. At these negotiations the amount of assistance and the key areas of cooperation were agreed upon. As a result, the foundation for German-Ukrainian development cooperation is more solid.

The motivation of the German Cooperation is to support Ukraine in establishing the conditions that help to increase the quality of life of Ukrainian citizens. Transparent and citizen oriented government agencies and efficiently used public finances contribute to that.

And there is a further point and question to be made on reforms in Ukraine, adopting of new laws that facilitate Ukrainian integration in the European society (FTA, visa-free regime). Something was done in pro-European democratic direction but much more to be done. Is it about mentality (taking / given bribes) because we know perfectly well – that there is a system that hardly can be changed, it’s a matter of time, maybe, generations – it’s like a snow bowl. Everyone is forced to suite the frames if they want to make business and be a governor. Since these two things are integrated.

I think it is both a question of mentality and a question of structure. The structural circumstances can be changed by for example adopting new laws or establishing new procedures. Other structural circumstances (e.g. salary of government officials) are harder to change, but may be changed over time. Mentality is probably also an issue, but from our experience it seems obvious that the majority of people want changes. 

This is the reason why German Cooperation is contributing to establishing functioning institutions that guarantee everybody the same chances of participation. And to go even a step further to not only guarantee them, but also enable the people to use them. The new law on state financing of political parties is one step in the right direction.

What is the main message that you would like to give to current and future generations of young entrepreneurs and policy makers? From yourself, your experience, and that directly come from GIZ principles?

When the government acts transparently and visibly tries to improve the situation of the people, it creates trust. Assigning to everybody, equal rights but also equal responsibilities is the key to a prospering society. 

Please share with us the plans of GIZ for 2016. What shall we expect from GIZ?

The German Government will continue supporting reforms in Ukraine. As mentioned earlier, for the first time in four years, government negotiations were held between the Ukrainian and German governments in November 2015.At the moment GIZ is implementing 23 projects in Ukraine. The next government negotiations are planned to be held in summer.

About GIZ: The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is a global provider of international cooperation services for sustainable development. The company has more than 50 years of experience in a wide variety of areas ranging from economic development and employment, energy and the environment to peace and security. GIZ supports the German Government, primarily the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and many other public and private clients in more than 130 countries, helping them to achieve their objectives in the field of international cooperation. Apart from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), our biggest client, GIZ also works on behalf of other German federal ministries, state-level governments, and local authorities inside Germany, as well as international clients. The largest of those clients are the European Union (EU) and the Australian and British development agencies AusAID and DfID.

GIZ is supporting Ukraine's reform efforts. We are operating in Ukraine on behalf of five German ministries (the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy). Other clients are international organizations, such as the European Union, the UK Department for International Development (DfID), and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). GIZ is working with some 150 national and international staff members at around 20 locations. There are also 30 integrated and returning experts operating directly in the Ukrainian administration and in the country’s chamber of commerce and industry, universities and NGOs.

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