Since 1991, more than 500 rural settlements and townships in Ukraine have ceased to exist. The village “extinction” trend is accelerating with each year. What is the reason for such a pattern and do people live in the Ukrainian countryside today?
About 18 villages and townships disappear every year in Ukraine.
According to the information on the State Statistics Committee of Ukraine website, as of January 1, 2016, in Ukraine (excluding the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol) there are 28,385 rural settlements and 885 townships. In 1990, there were 28 804 rural settlements and 927 townships. We can see that the number of rural settlements has decreased by 419 units, and townships by 42. In total, 461 rural administrative units disappeared from the map of Ukraine in the last 26 years. 461 rural administrative units divided by 26 years = 17.73 rural administrative units disappearing every year. However, this statistical information, de facto, may be diminished or not valid.
If we take into account the study “Number of villages in Ukraine and regions in 1991-2013”, conducted by the portal “Week.UA”, we will receive even more striking results – since 1991, 641 rural settlements have disappeared from the map of Ukraine, including 40 townships and 601 villages. What we have: 641 rural units divided by 22 years = 29.1 rural administrative units disappearing every year. The fact remains – villages in our country are disappearing. Unfortunately, they are disappearing at a tremendous pace.
During the May holidays, the author had an opportunity to visit Ukrainian villages in different regions, as well as to view a large number of video polls of the village dwellers of our country. In general, the situation is identical in almost all regions. The author divided the observations into three blocks: social situation, infrastructure and population’s moods.
I’ll quote one of the village dwellers: “The pension is 1100-1200 UAH. Survive if you can, especially when you have high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.” The other woman said, “Getting to a doctor from one end of the village to the other by foot takes at least an hour. And then, when you arrive, they say, “Grandma, there’s nothing we can do help, go home and die. The other resident commented, “We have so many disappointments. But what are we supposed to do? And only God knows whether it will ever get better.”
The situation is similar in most villages: there are no buses, shops, schools, kindergartens, clubs and places of leisure. There is no gas, and even if there is, the villagers cannot afford to buy it. There are also no normal roads, and people definitely don’t own cars.
Young people are trying to go to work in the city or abroad. Only large farmers and their families remain. The older people, who are over 30-40 years old, often say that it is better not to live at all and save money for the “main costume” and funeral services. After all, the conditions are too harsh for people to survive. Just think! People say these incredibly disturbing things at the age when they are full of life. And this is not an exception, but a common thing.
The search for explanations
While communicating with older generations of village dwellers, I quite often heard an opinion that such situation in the village is beneficial to the state andcompanies large companies. People believe that a technology of village genocide was pre-programmed and is introduced in order to minimize the number of villages and rural population. That way, fertile lands and territories can be sold to monopoly farmers or foreign investors and able-bodied people can be used as cheap labor. People say this is a new type of economic expansion.
Young people stand against such a dull scenario of social conspiracy. They say that the village loses its competitive ability and attractiveness for young people. From the economic point of view, there are no prospects in the village: good job offers, interesting places of leisure and infrastructure. Young people are not interested, as they don’t see their development and the future of the village as a whole. There is also an explanation of the process of village “extinction” from the standpoint of globalist tendencies that says: not the natural economy and working in the field, but IT-technologies and intellectual work in the office are in demand. Therefore, young people see their future in the city or abroad.
Unfortunately, nowadays there are no effective state programs for development or reformation of villages, and the process of disintegrationof rural communities in Ukraine continues.
Village dreams disappear. Families are moving. Many years of tradition remain on the pages of history books.
Dmytro Duma, specialist in strategic communications at the NGO “Institute for Democracy and Social Progress”
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