Gleb Tyurin /
Village Renewal In Archangelsk







Village renewal technologies in Russia - aus der Habitat Best Practise Database und ähnlich auch beim CEECN

Institute for Social and Humanistic Initiatives (ISHI)

Table of contents of this page
Key Dates   
TRANSFERS [Approximately 400 WORDS]   


Best practice Village renewal in Russian North was created by NGO Institute of Social and Humanistic initiatives (ISHI) in the framework of few projects, which was estimated as having no analogies in Russia.

The aim: to stop overall crisis and destruction of villages by supporting community based system of local governance and bottom up initiatives.

We worked out and adopted technology, which allowed us to initiate the process of community bottom up development and make it grow broadly and strongly.

More then 40 local development groups (in Russian - TOS) appeared in 14 districts of Archangelsk region, consulting (organizational development, projecting, planning, accounting, taxation, etc.), creation of regional content of rural projects and establishment of links with local authorities allowed to start practical village renewal. 53 rural projects were implemented with economical effect of more than 670 000$, while only 59508$ invested. 88 social objects built or restored, 273 working places created (33 permanent). Projects were monitored and followed.

This success created absolutely new psychological situation, strata of active and self esteem people appeared and is growing. TOS is supported by local authorities and is recognized as important link between population and authorities. More than 500 publications prepared and issues of local development rise interest in the society.

Methodology of consultancy is developed. In 2004- 2005 this experience was brought more than to 30 regions of Russian Federation and former SU countries and attracted huge interest. Ideas, methodology of Local development work are accepted in many regions to be implemented there.

Key Dates    

1998 Our first steps (without financing)

2000 - 2003 Implementation of our main projects.

2001 - First few village projects implemented

2003 - 54 rural projects fulfilled

2004-2005 the technologies and paradigm of local development started to be spread and in many regions of Russia and former Soviet states


Break down of planning economy and transition to market lead to terrible ordeal in depopulated Russian Northern countryside, ceasing of production, poverty, infrastructure demolishing. Population is dying off (1–2 percent a year). It is followed by overall apathy and despair, alcoholism, growing criminality, drugs abuse, homeless children number. Situation is hardened by severe climate, isolation, absence of roads. Many villages have come to the very edge of total destruction and could disappear within a few years.


The priority of the Institute was to work with most vulnerable rural areas which were almost destroyed in reform times in order to help them to survive keep them alive and keep their culture. The biggest priority - bottom up community based initiatives.

One of the main reasons of the crisis is a disability and unwillingness of people to take initiatives and to adapt to new conditions, as they got used to live in a system where decisions were always taken by the authorities. But existing administrative system can’t provide it any more. In order to survive villages had to create new system of local governance, learn a lot.


The aim was to stop destruction of our villages by supporting community based system of local governance, local development (LD), rising accumulated human energy as the main force of development. The aims of the Institute were: to “open” society, bring development technologies there; promote the culture of dialog, joint decision making, provide They also had to support establishment of co-operation of TOS groups with authorities, their networking and spread information about positive experience of LD.


The work of the Institute started with its own recourses. Since 2000 it worked with grant support of Western Foundations (the main financial source, more then 50%). In 2000 -2001 a number of small grants, aimed at initiating development work in villages, studies were done. In 2001 -2003 3 big projects (Eurasia Foundation (USA), European commission) have been realized..

ISHI also attracted local resources. Archangelsk regional administration have been supporting its projects since 2000 till 2003, starting with very limited support in 2000. In 2002 the amount of Regional Administration funding grew up to 26300$ (750000 rubles) and remained the same in 2003. Most of this money went to finance village projects. Institute worked hard to get support from municipalities and since 2001 amount of it was growing steadily. It also went mainly to village projects. Most of techniques we developed by the stuff of the Institute but with some support of experts from abroad.


Institute arranged numerous round tables, discussions, meetings, trying to provide people with understanding what the reasons of crisis were, and what they could do with it. Then these people were supported in their attempts to unite with each other, form local development groups (organ TOS), get skills of joint action and managing groups.

The work was aimed on inspiring and empowerment them, getting new vision, understanding what and in what way they could do, to make their choice. It was difficult and fragile process of supporting new We-concept growth, rising of new values and relationship, which could set the wheel of self-reliance of local communities in motion.

Special seminars on projecting, planning, accounting, legislation, taxation, et we arranged. In 2001 village groups started to develop and implement their own projects which involved population of this villages (building water towers, bridges, ferries, clubs, elderly houses, market place on the road to sell local goods, starting pedigree sheep breeding and honey production; cleaning of river banks in an ancient city; doing forests rehabilitation, etc.)

After that Regional content of development projects, which turn into permanent. Experts of Institute monitored projects ensuring their success. They developed and adopted techniques of social consulting and adult education. Special attention was paid to specific women’s role, creating social awareness that women are the main force in renovation and encouraging their initiatives.

Institute was consulting and educating municipalities, trying to provide links between local development groups and municipalities, incorporating TOS into municipal system. Special municipal legislation on local governance was worked out by stuff of the Institute (in Russian, territorial public self government, TOS), which was adopted in most of municipalities.

Real regional network of TOS organs was developed; and Association of village renewal built up. Institute also arranged an information network, Agency and page on local development for rural district newspapers, produced hundreds of articles and programmes disseminating positive experience and success stories.


Results up to 2004

- System of bottom up community based governance (impossible few years ago) was established. More that 40 LD groups (TOS) appeared in 14 districts of the region.

- We proved that with minimised support LD can be very successful even in very marginal and ruined rural areas. 53 development projects implemented. While only 1 696 000 roubles (59508$) were invested, total budget was 6387347 roubles ($224117). Total economic output was more than 20 million roubles (about 670 000$). More then 1200 people actively worked (mostly as volunteers). It directly affected more then 18000 people.

- System of open access to financial support via Regional Content was established.

- Dozens of concrete problems solved. 88 objects (clubs, bridges, ferries, medical centers, water towers and pipeline, parks, market buildings, facilities for tourism, stadiums, wells, etc.) have been build or restored. 14 working institutions, co-operatives started, 33 permanent and 240 temporary working places created. 9 historic and cultural objects (bell tower, merchant mansion, churches, old houses, etc.) were preserved, few historical collections created, 3 museums (expositions) opened.

- New strata of activeness appeared. Part of population united, got self esteem and believe in own forces, inspiration, changed their point from “give us” to “let’s do”.

- Association of village renewal is founded, network is growing.

- Most local authorities support LD and allocate more financial support every year. They provide local communities with bigger responsibilities. TOS is recognised as important link between population and authorities. Regional and lastly some federal politicians express interesting in this experience.

- Broad information field on LD is created. More than 400 publications and programmes prepared. More that 200 000 people have been informed about LD.

- Own methodology of consultancy and adult education worked out.

That is not all.


Lessons about mechanisms of change (while there were others).

- Even one person can sometimes cause significant changes. It is possible.

- Real changes and development are to do with interaction and efforts of many people (community). It is based on common identity (We-concept), combination of values, norms, attitudes, which “programs” people’s behaviour. Most of it is unconscious. Positively oriented identity is the pivot of development.

- Local development can be put as common search of sense. We-concept created by free will summing up of wills, senses turns community into a synergetic complicated self-arranging system (which obtains many times higher abilities then its parts separately) And it gives people energy, forces, abilities, inspiration, which they could not even dream about.

- Positive “We-concept” allows community to use resources excluded by administrative and commercial approaches. In many cases community based economy (while having bitter limitations) provides very high efficiency, when much equity is gained with less cost and destruction of resources. Even most poor communities have enough resources for development. It works in different cultures but it is especially important for poverty reduction in poor areas.

In certain conditions even with very little money and resources (almost nothing) people can do provide real changes in their community and could be rather effective.

- This kind of development is a continuous and complicated process with the center of responsibility placed inside the community, but it needs support from outside (financial, legislative, informational, consulting). Special tools and techniques can catalyze and assure this process. These social technologies is a very important part of development process, it is impossible to promote it without them.

- LD should correspond with the interests of the existing elite, which should be interested in it and require it. So it should be aimed on local elites, willing to promote social and economic changes, promote innovative development. Otherwise it will meet huge difficulties.

TRANSFERS [Approximately 400 WORDS]    

Transferability: This section applies to all those who are submitting their practice for the Dubai International Awards. In this section, please describe how your initiative has benefited from the experience or expertise of other practices. Describe how your initiative could be replicated. If the process of replication has commenced, please indicate when and by whom.

The experience of ISHI can be taken as informal part of LD movement, which started in 60-70th in the West and now broadly developed in many countries all over the world. It developed the Russian version of LD concept which is relative to international experience but is acceptable for Russian soil.

It is highly transferable, as it never brings fixed approach. It is a combination of methods of work with variables of entire necessities, forces, resources, human energy and sense, which could build new social identity (We-concept) and establish its inside and outside partnership. It is social consulting technique especially valuable as it worked even in very marginal and ruined rural areas being able to demonstrate very high results with very limited resources.

This experience was many times transferred in Archangelsk region (bigger than France) in 14 municipalities (with very difficult conditions).

Since 2004 ISHI was working hard to share and spread this concept and technologies in many regions of Russia and CIS countries. The aim was to spread it in a way which can attract regional and municipal authorities interested in innovative rural development. The series of articles was prepared, a big number of letters sent, arranged personal meetings with managers on different level. Afterwards seminars were arranged with financial support of local authorities or some other partners, like Open World program, which helped to arrange seminars in the Far East, ARO program, which arranged a seminar and work in Tomsk region, School of Public politics which helped to arrange seminars in Central, Northern Russia, Sibiria,etc. Institute of Sustainable communities-Chabarovsk, which arranged education for people from municipalities and trainers working with local initiatives in many regions of the Far East. Some seminars were arranged by municipalities.

  • Seminars on local development were carried out for people in Pskov region, Leningrad region, Murmansk region, Kirov region, Kostroma region, Perm kray, Tambov region, Kaluzhsky region, Karelia, Tver region, Yaroslavl region, Tomsk region, Buriat autonomous district, Chakassky autonomous district, a number of municipalities of Chabarovsk region, Amursk region, Yakut republic, Kamchatsky region, in Armenia, etc.
  • The result is that the pilot projects on rural development with the technologies developed in Arkhangelsk region are started in Leningrad region and Tver region.
But we consider it very important that it will develop also in Archangelsk region and we ask for support.


Has this practice been supported by a municipal, regional or national public policy or legislation? If so, please describe briefly. Similarly, have any policy changes or new laws been enacted as a result of this practice? If so, please, describe briefly.

The experience of LD, created by ISHI in Archangelsk region, caused development of legislation in Archangelsk region on municipal and regional level: special laws were adopted. More to say, a new law on territorial self-government is going to be adopted soon.

This experience was studied in Russian Government and Ministry of economic development of Russian Federation and it was highly estimated there. It attracted much attention in State Duma (the Russian Parliament) and the Council of Federation, which addressed Administration of Archangelsk region with their special notes and letters concerning Archangelsk experience of local development raised by ISHI.

But we believe that Dubai Award can play very important role in assuring this experience and it will be very important not only in Russia, but in many other countries.