Local Democracy and Resilience in Ukraine: Learning from Communities’ Crisis Response in War

Regional focus: Ukraine/Eastern Europe

Time: October 2023 – June 2024


Amidst the devastating impact of the full-scale Russian invasion, Ukraine has retained its sovereignty. Enabled by decentralization reforms from 2015-2020, local self-governance bodies have played a crucial role in Ukraine’s resilience, offering essential services and backing defense efforts. This phenomenon is puzzling in light of conflicting evidence about crisis management in decentralized states. This research aims to comprehend the relationship between local self-governance and democratic resilience, spotlighting participation, equity, transparency, and accountability as factors influencing conflict resilience on the local level. The research outcomes will shape recommendations for international development practitioners and policymakers. While employing a mixed-methods approach, the study involves quantitative analysis of original local authority surveys and qualitative analysis of online interviews and focus group insights. By building upon prior surveys conducted in the pre-war time in 2021 and in the first year of the full-scale invitation in 2022, this research uniquely tracks the evolution of local democracy’s role in resilience.

Research questions:

  1. How do municipalities’ roles and conditions for local self-governance change during an interstate conflict?
  2. What has been the role of citizen participation & equity, transparency and accountability structures in local decision-making processes during the interstate conflict?
  3. What are important factors to consider for international actors engaging in international cooperation for conflict resilience at the local level?


Dr. Oleksandra Keudel (PI), Assistant Professor, Kyiv School of Economics

Dr. Oksana Huss (Senior Researcher), University of Bologna

Myroslava Savisko (Research Coordinator), Project Manager, Kyiv School of Economics

This research project aims to support ICLD’s municipal partnerships in Ukraine and other countries in Eastern Europe during and after its implementation.

Related research projects:

  • Keudel, O., & Huss, O. (2023). Polycentric governance in practice: The case of Ukraine’s decentralised crisis response during the Russo-Ukrainian war. Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice, 1(aop), 1–26. https://doi.org/10.1332/25156918Y2023D000000002
  • Rabinovych, M., Brik, T., Darkovich, A., Savisko, M., Hatsko, V., Tytiuk, S., & Piddubnyi, I. (2023). Explaining Ukraine’s resilience to Russia’s invasion: The role of local governance. Governance, 1(20). https://doi.org/10.1111/gove.12827

Other ICLD research from Ukraine:

Project Area
Inclusive leadership and governance
Sustainable Development Goals
16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions