Ukraine Needs Community-Based Rehabilitation and Reconstruction

Ukraine War

What Ukraine needs today above all is a large-scale, sustained, community-based rehabilitation and reconstruction effort, with added emphasis on nutrition, health, care for the ill and the injured, and many more sustainable livelihoods. So all well-wishers, real and fake ones, please send Ukraine medicines and medical equipment, generous economic support and construction material they may lack, but please keep your weapons and bombs in your own storages.

However large-scale, sustained and successful reconstruction and rehabilitation needs conditions of peace and a more or less unconditional, immediate ceasefire is the best way forward, while all contentious issues are resolved later at the negotiating table. The most important factor guiding the negotiations should be that nobody can take away the geography of two neighbors and they must learn to live in peace with each other. They have lived with peace, solidarity, many-sided relations in the past, and can certainly do so in future.

The assaults on Russian language speaking people in Ukraine earlier were instigated as a part of a very destructive agenda imposed from outside the two countries. The conditions in which the Russian invasion would become more and more likely were created by the same forces. The possibilities of early peace around April 2022 were sabotaged by the same forces. The Nord Stream pipelines were destroyed by the same forces. The weapons to make the war more and more prolonged and destructive have been most readily supplied by the same forces.

Once there is clarity about these facts, more and more people will be motivated to accept a path of peace and reconstruction as early and widely as possible.

Unfortunately there are reasons to believe that those who control Ukraine affairs today do not favor this agenda of very early peace and rehabilitation. It even appears likely that some powerful persons are making a lot of money in the midst of destruction and great difficulties faced by most people.

Hence it is important to find openings so that the yearnings of most people for early peace and large-scale rehabilitation/reconstruction effort can find more articulation and open campaign avenues, increasing possibilities of policy change and peace.

Rehabilitation and reconstruction should not be handed over to big construction companies; this should be led by local communities. Only then satisfactory results can emerge as communities have best understanding of their needs. Aid efforts should not come attached with construction contracts but instead aid for reconstruction should be provided without any conditions so that local communities can lead the reconstruction and rehabilitation effort.

It is also important to move in the direction of ensuring longer-term food sovereignty by making best use of the abundant resources for agricultural development and food production. Several foreign companies and local oligarchs have been trying to extend their control over the farmlands of the people of Ukraine. All such control should end and all farmland must remain firmly in control and ownership of small and medium sized famers and family farms of Ukraine. With land owned more or less equally by ordinary farmers and family farms, this can become a strong base for the economic recovery of Ukraine and for sustainable livelihoods of people.

In Europe there is high preference for organic and non-GM food and Ukraine can emerge as a big supplier of Europe with non- GM and organic food while many, many satisfactory sustainable livelihoods can be linked to this, apart from being linked to providing healthy food for all people of Ukraine.

It would be in the best of interests of Ukraine to find and follow an independent path of peace, reconstruction, rehabilitation and sustainable livelihoods instead of subordinating itself to the wider imperialist goals of any superpowers or their allies.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Protecting Earth for Children, A Day in 2071 and Planet in Peril.

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