Small towns from both banks of the Nistru River have a sustainable development potential, but migration, population ageing and lack of jobs hinder the possibility to make the best use of it. This is the conclusion drawn by a group of researchers from both riverbanks, who have assessed the sustainable development potential of small towns from the Nistru River valley. The cooperation was organized in the framework of the EU-funded “Support to confidence building measures” Programme, implemented by UNDP.
Localities with up to 50 thousand inhabitants were included in the analysis: 9 towns from the right side of the Nistru River: Soroca, Floresti, Soldanesti, Rezina, Orhei, Criuleni, Anenii Noi, Stefan-Voda, Causeni, and 6 from the left bank - Camenca, Rybnitsa, Dubasari, Grigoriopol, Slobozia, and Dnestrovsc. Their potential was assessed on the basis of a series of comparable statistical indicators that were correlated with the global indicators of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
“The analyzed data and recommendations may be used by the local leaders to determine the most efficient forms and methods for planning public expenditures, making investments and reducing misbalances in social-economic development. The representatives of civil society could use the data-based diagnosis and the undertaken complex analysis of sustainable development factors in order to advocate and to draft local development project proposals”, mentioned Aurelia Spataru, project manager, UNDP Moldova.
The reported data reveal that all the analyzed towns on the left bank and 3 towns on the right bank (Criuleni, Orhei, and Stefan-Voda) register a large demographic decline. This is explained by the constant decrease of birthrate, increase of mortality rate and population ageing index, especially in Dubasari, Dnestrovsc, and Camenca. The positive natural population growth registered in the majority of other small towns on the right bank represents a development potential that still may be effectively used.
The economic development potential of small towns was analyzed based on manufactured production and population’s main income sources. Hence, the biggest value of manufactured production per 1 inhabitant is registered in Criuleni, Rybnitsa, Rezina and Anenii Noi rayons (between USD 3,188 and USD 6,721), and the lowest production value is registered in Soldanesti and Camenca rayons (with USD 137 and, respectively, USD 339). The monthly average nominal salary per employee in the small towns from the Nistru River valley varies from USD 174 in Stefan Voda up to USD 337 in Rybnitsa. At the same time, the monthly average pension accounts from USD 52 in Soldanesti up to USD 118 in Dubasari and USD 121 in Rybnitsa.
The life quality of people living in small towns depends on their health, living conditions, and equal opportunities they can benefit from when taking decisions. Thus, the highest mortality rates, including caused by cancer, are registered in Camenca and Dubasari towns – that are 1.5 times higher than the average mortality rates for the Nistru valley’s small towns. At the same time, Rezina encounts the highest infant mortality rate (18.6 cases per 1,000 live births).
According to the authors, the majority of people living in the towns from the Nistru River valley have access to housing. Nevertheless, while some inhabitants from Floresti benefit of 19.6 m² of floor space, the same indicator in Anenii Noi accounts for 33.6 m².
The authors have also revealed that the population from the analyzed area accounts for a different level of access to utility services. Thus, the highest rate of population’s access to natural gas facilities is registered in Anenii Noi, Criuleni, and Dnestrovsc (over 96%), while the inhabitants from Soldanesti, Camenca, and Stefan Voda are covered in the proportion of only 73-75%. On the other hand, the lowest rate of access to water pipes is registered in Soldanesti, Floresti, and Camenca. Access to sewerage and heating systems is ensured only for 4 out of 10 inhabitants in Slobozia, Camenca, Soldanesti and Dubasari.
Another aspect of data refers to the ecological situation. The highest degree of pollutants’ emission into the atmospheric air from stationary sources is registered in Dnestrovsc (618 kg per inhabitant – especially from the thermoelectric power plant), Rezina (113 kg/inhabitant) and Rybnitsa (92 kg/inhabitant). At the same time, significant differences are registered in ensuring the towns’ population with green spaces. While an inhabitant from Grigoriopol can enjoy in average 19 m² of green spaces, in Soroca there are only 1.8 m² per inhabitant.
The highest values of women share in the local public administration bodies is registered in Dnestrovsc, Grigoriopol, and Soldanesti towns (where one out of three mandates in Town Council is held by a woman). At the same time, in Causeni, Rybnitsa, Stefan-Voda, and Orhei the share of women in local councils is lower and varies from 4% up to 17.6%.
The authors have undertaken two rankings: the first one represents the assessment of the sustainable development potential (based on the sum of indicators’ ranking in seven areas of sustainable development), and the second one – assesses the balance between the components of towns’ sustainable development (representing the deviation of indicators in seven areas from the average values). Thus, Dnestrovsc town ranks the first in the sustainable development potential top, registering the highest values for industrial production, incomes, and living conditions indicators. Nevertheless, having the biggest demographic and ecological problems, this town cannot get developed in a balanced way in all the seven components of sustainable development. Moreover, Criuleni, Anenii Noi, Causeni, and Stefan-Voda towns, registering an average value for their sustainable development potential, obtained a high value for the balanced development between the sustainable development factors.
Note: Data of the National Bureau of Statistics and Statistical Service from the left bank of the Nistru River were used as evidences for the described report. Other 3 analytical papers covering both sides of the Nistru River and referring to soils degradation, inclusiveness of the educational infrastructure, and inequalities on the labor market will be soon published. The main aim of the grants’ program used for carrying out the four studies was to contribute to increasing data users’ capacities to properly and efficiently make us of the available statistical data. Special focus was put on fostering the dialogue between the researchers from both sides of the Nistru River.
The performed analysis reveals the objective differences of the development potential in case of the small towns from the Nistru River valley and suggests a clustering of the towns with similar sustainable development potential.
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