Activists: GoEast initiative to enhance institutional and communication capacity of Eastern Ukrainian NGOs


The GoEast initiative – Global Office project has been launched in the east of Ukraine. Its goal is to build a powerful network of active NGOs in the eastern cities through the support of existing projects and the establishment of the partnership between them. This was announced by the initiative participants at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. There are plenty of NGOs in the east, but many of them lack systematic work, efficient programs, qualified specialists, development strategy, and financing. GoEast’s goal is to help them become more professional and efficient.

“We have realized that short-term activities do not have a long-lasting effect. Therefore, we decided to develop a major project to help civil society and local NGOs to be more efficient and more capable. We are confident that we cannot bring activists from Kyiv or other cities and do something from outside – our goal is to make civil society on the ground stronger, so that NGOs can independently raise money, create projects and implement not only short-term but also long-term projects,” said Mustafa Nayem, co-founder of Global Office, People’s Deputy of Ukraine.

The project covers government-controlled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The GoEast team has developed a projects map and explored the situation in each of the cities they intend to work in: which projects are in operation, what are the needs and challenges. “Over two months we traveled to 17 cities, talked to 80 organizations and initiative groups – 125 people altogether,” said Svitlana Kolodiy, GoEast Initiative Coordinator. They were primarily interested in organizations engaged in development projects – non-formal education, or creation of public spaces and communication platforms, and broad profile organizations.

According to the survey, among the projects that non-government organizations would like to see above all in their cities are schools of media literacy and English language, creation of public media – high-quality alternative Internet media, projects intended to inform people living in the gray zone (print media, radio), business schools, vocational guidance projects, legal education and legal aid, as well as support for people who have been in captivity. Their main needs are the attraction of funds, organizational development, the attraction of personnel, high-quality communication and building of partnerships with colleagues from the region.

GoEast will help non-government organizations build a model that best suits the needs of each specific NGO, establish communication to attract new colleagues, new target audiences, and establish contacts with other public organizations. “15% of organizations have already informed us about their willingness to do partnership projects. So far, NGOs have focused on developing a joint project in three cities – Kramatorsk, Sloviansk, and Kostiantynivka,” said Svitlana Kolodiy. “–  Our strategic vision is a network of contacts between different cities and a platform for sharing their experiences.”

The main areas of activities for the next year include individual work with NGOs, holding five local thematic forums for NGOs in Kramatorsk, Lysychansk, Sloviansk, Mariupol, and Pokrovsk, as well as a program for the exchange of students between higher educational institutions from different regions. We have already agreed on implementing a pilot project involving the 3rd-4th-year students of Uzhhorod National University and Mariupol State University. “This is one of the most influential ways to break stereotypes about each other,” Mustafa Nayem emphasized.

GoEast will also cover the activities of interesting projects from the east of Ukraine. “We take on the function of communicating the activities of these organizations. Although there are effective promising projects, nobody knows about them because of the lack of communication. The lack of communication with Kyiv and the lack of understanding what is happening in the regions result in the disorientation of donors and dissatisfaction of projects,” Mustafa Nayem said. Svitlana Kolodiy added that some of the NGOs in the east have developed their own efficient practices that could be useful to colleagues from other regions of Ukraine.

The organizers stress that GoEast will stay out of politics. “This project, like all Global Office projects, will in no way relate to politics. And I promise that we will use these projects neither in political campaigning nor in promoting some political interests,” Mustafa Nayem said.