To rebuild and return people home: the USAID DOBRE Program helps communities overcome the consequences of war

The USAID DOBRE Program is helping 74 local communities in ten oblasts of Ukraine overcome the consequences of Russia’s military invasion. As part of its Emergency Response Project, the Program promotes the active restoration of critical infrastructure and the organization of more efficient operations of public utilities and communal enterprises. Between November 2022 and the end of December 2023, partner communities received more than five million dollars in assistance through emergency response activities. Each community identified its highest priority projects in cooperation with the Program’s specialists. Thanks to the Program’s assistance, community resilience centers were provided with the necessary equipment, mobile kitchens, and generators. At the same time, places of compact residence of internally displaced persons were equipped with household appliances, heaters, furniture, and bedding. The Program’s partners have reinforced the work of community utilities with specialized heavy equipment to help restore the essential infrastructure, including damaged water supply networks. In addition, schools have been properly equipped with shelters so children can study on-site instead of online. These are just a few examples of the effective contribution of USAID DOBRE to communities’ resilience.

What challenges are communities facing on the spot today, how is DOBRE support helping them, and how are they using the equipment they have received? This was learned in communities in Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Chernihiv oblasts.

The Starosaltivska community: for people to return to the community, housing and social infrastructure need to be restored

Kharkiv Oblast is one of the most hard-hit regions of Ukraine. It is bravely resisting the enemy and, unfortunately, still subject to massive Russian missile attacks.

Therefore, it is no coincidence that the USAID DOBRE Program supports perhaps the largest number of territories in this region, namely 19 local communities. One of them is the Starosaltivska community. In the first days of the full-scale invasion, the community was occupied by Russian troops and ended up under siege. Constant shelling and rocket attacks destroyed 70 percent of the buildings: infrastructure, administrative buildings, schools, kindergartens, private houses, and apartments in high-rise buildings. There was no gas, water, or electricity. Only 300 people remained under occupation in Staryi Saltiv. Due to the constant shelling, many residents had no choice but to evacuate. Currently, 1711 residents live in the village.

The community was fully de-occupied in September 2022. Restoration work is still underway. The main school, administrative building, outpatient clinic, roads, and housing for residents are being repaired. A significant part of the funds for the reconstruction is provided by the state. Various international organizations and charitable and humanitarian missions also support the community.

According to Mr. Anton Palei, head of the Starosaltivka Military Administration, the community has many years of experience working with a reliable partner, the USAID DOBRE Program.

In October last year, the DOBRE Program provided a community with a dump truck worth about $95,000. This vehicle helps the community to carry out reconstruction work. For people to return home, it is necessary to rebuild institutions and housing, fully restore the work of utilities, and provide quality services. Therefore, cooperation with USAID DOBRE is very important for us,” said Mr. Anton Paley.

The authorities use the dump truck to transport building materials, such as wooden beams and boards, provided as humanitarian aid to residents who rebuild their damaged private homes. The vehicle is constantly busy removing garbage from natural landfills and construction debris from the adjacent territories of apartment buildings in Staryi Saltiv, where emergency reconstruction work is underway. It also delivers firewood for heating medical and social facilities that are also being repaired. The truck is also helping to restore the central street water supply system. Thus, the tipper is actively involved in solving problematic situations in the community.

In the Kharkiv region, as part of the emergency response, USAID DOBRE also provided the Balakliyska community with an emergency repair vehicle with a 7-seat cabin and tools for prompt detection and elimination of accidents on the community’s heating networks, namely motor pumps for draining dirty water, gasoline cutters, drills, perforators, cordless screwdrivers, chainsaws, and generators. For example, the Malynivska community received an excavator from USAID DOBRE, which is already helping to restore the local water supply system.

In total, 12 communities in the Kharkiv Oblast received special machinery, equipment, tools, and generators worth more than one million dollars.

The Vasylkivska community: successful education at school thanks to safe shelter

USAID DOBRE cooperates with five partner communities in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast under the Emergency Response Project.

For example, in the Vasylkivska town community, the Program helped to equip a shelter for Lyceum No. 1, the area’s hub lyceum. It has 634 students. Children can meet with their teachers and communicate with their classmates every day in school. And all thanks to the fact that the educational institution has a good and reliable shelter. By the way, twenty children from Pokrovske, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, are also studying here, as the school in their village was destroyed by rocket attacks last August.

The USAID DOBRE Program was the first to respond to our request and helped us arrange the shelter back in the summer of 2023. The fact is that we did not use the basement, although we made sure it was clean and dry. The building itself was built 43 years ago. We have overhauled classrooms, corridors, and utility rooms, but there was no need to repair the 900-square-meter basement itself. With the outbreak of war, we must take care of the safety of children, so our community found an opportunity to repair the shelter, and the USAID DOBRE Program provided equipment and materials,” said Ms. Lyudmyla Falko, principal of the Kotsiubynskyi hub lyceum No. 1.

In particular, linoleum, chairs, a portable charging station, water tanks, heaters, metal shelving, blankets and beds for the medical office, and other important equipment amounting to about $22,000 were purchased and delivered to the school. 

Vasylkivka’s educational institution has already had a positive experience with USAID DOBRE. In 2019, a STEM center was opened based on the Hub lyceum No. 1 in cooperation with the Program. The center offers lessons and clubs in biology, geography, chemistry, computer science, and physics. The school’s students win various competitions thanks to innovative teaching methods and modern equipment. In particular, last year, two students, Valentyna Kravchenko and Daria Nosach (physics teacher — Ms. Yulia Atamaniuk), won third place in the regional competition “Outstanding Scientists and Their Discoveries” Student Karina Varakuta (Ukrainian language and literature teacher — Ms. Lyudmyla Taranenko) won first place in the Taras Shevchenko International Language and Literature Competition.

USAID DOBRE also helped the Pokrovska community’s Gymnasium No. 2, which got damaged from shelling. Uniting efforts with the Program, the community replaced 41 windows and three door blocks last year. Unfortunately, the children of the Pokrovska community will not be able to return to school until after the war because of the danger, so the educational process goes online.

In total, the communities of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast received equipment and materials worth more than $500 thousand.

The Novhorod-Siverska community: special machinery and equipment to restore and improve the quality of services for people

Chernihiv Oblast has been under occupation since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. As soon as the area was liberated, USAID DOBRE continued to work with Ukraine’s eight northern communities.

The Novhorod-Siverska urban community is one of the largest in Chernihiv Oblast, comprising 85 settlements. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, it has been under occupation and repeatedly shelled. As a result, 39 buildings (educational, healthcare, and infrastructure facilities) and more than 260 residential buildings have been destroyed or damaged. Five facilities and 55 residential buildings have already been restored.

After the de-occupation, USAID DOBRE resumed working with our community, and we jointly identified the needs for the Emergency Response Project. At that time, our task was to set up heating and catering facilities in case of emergency, specifically for residents of apartment buildings. Therefore, the USAID DOBRE Program provided us with a large tent, a generator, heaters (Bullerjan-type), and a field kitchen. We also reinforced the work of the stationary heating point with beds, heaters, and water tanks, while the utility companies received power tools,” says Ms. Liudmyla Tkachenko, head of the Novhorod-Siverska community.

At the end of December last year, the community received a new wheeled tractor with attachments worth about $54,000 thanks to the USAID DOBRE Program. Today, this essential equipment is being registered at the State Service of Ukraine for Food Safety and Consumer Protection in Chernihiv Oblast. Soon, the tractor will help eliminate the consequences of breakdowns in the water supply system, which, unfortunately, is outdated and needs to be modernized. The special equipment will be used to clear the rubble of destroyed buildings during missile strikes, to fill and level dirt roads, and to remove snow.

The Koryukivska community, which is on the list of areas of possible hostilities, received 400 meters of insulated steel pipes, three water supply pumps, and three automatic control systems for these pumps from the USAID DOBRE Program to repair its heating networks. The community plans to modernize its heating and water supply systems.

The total volume of assistance for eight communities in Chernihiv Oblast is about $550,000.

The communities most affected by the full-scale invasion will be assisted

In 2024, the USAID DOBRE Program will complete the implementation of the Emergency Response Project.

First and foremost, we will support the communities most affected by Russia’s full-scale invasion. Our experts have studied their needs together with the communities. In particular, the communities of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Chernihiv, and Kharkiv oblasts will receive 12 excavators, a water treatment plant, three vehicles for emergency repair teams, and generators,” said Brian Kemple, USAID DOBRE Chief of Party.

Under the Emergency Response Project, the USAID DOBRE Program plans to deliver equipment worth about one million dollars to communities in 2024.


The USAID Program, “Decentralization Offering Better Results and Efficiency” (DOBRE), is a nine-year program, implemented by Global Communities and funded by the United States Agency for International Development. DOBRE has worked closely with 100 consolidated communities (CCs) in ten Oblasts of Ukraine to help them realize the benefits and meet the challenges brought by decentralization. DOBRE provides technical and material assistance to CCs to help them govern openly and accountably and meet the needs of their citizens; and supports citizens’ active engagement in decision-making and policy making. DOBRE’s support encompasses strategic planning; spatial planning; financial management; public service delivery; local economic development; capacity building; good governance practices; and gender- and youth-responsive policies.

In the period 2022 – 2025, DOBRE will be working directly with at least 60 CCs of Ukraine to help them cope with the consequences of the war, recover and rebuild, and resume their trajectory of positive, sustainable development. Partners with Global Communities in the DOBRE Program Consortium include the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center; the Foundation in Support of Local Democracy, and the Malopolska School of Public Administration at the Krakow University of Economics, Poland.