Population – 9,458
Women – 4,951
Men – 4,507
Children under 18 – 1,159
Retired – 2,726
People with disabilities – 405
Internally displaced persons – 315
The municipality encompasses 65 settlements – 64 villages and Narodychi township as the administrative centre (2,978 residents) – and is divided into 5 starosta districted.
In Zhytomyr oblast, Narodychi was at the forefront of the decentralization reform: it was established in 2015 through amalgamation covering the entire territory of former Narodychi rayon.
The municipality stretches on the beautiful banks of the Uzh river.
The present-day Narodychi township has existed since the middle of the 16th century. However, archaeological finds point to the presence of settlements in this area as far back as the times of the Stone and Bronze Ages.
In a more recent history, this land witnessed the dramatic events of the Second Winter March of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, also known as Lystopadovy Chyn or ‘November uprising’, which was the efforts to support insurgency against the Bolshevik occupation of Ukraine in October – December 1921. The insurgency movement was particularly inflamed by Russia’s seizing Ukrainian grain and the manmade famine deliberately orchestrated in Ukraine by the Bolsheviks. In one episode, 329 captured fighters of the Ukrainian People’s Republic army, who represented almost all contemporary oblasts of Ukraine, were executed by shooting on 21 November 1921 in Bazar village, which is now part of Narodychi municipality.
In 2000, a memorial was erected in Bazar village with the funding raised by the UK nationals of Ukrainian descent, including the descendants of the Winter March fighters who managed to emigrate as way to escape soviet repressions.
After the 1986 meltdown at Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the area of today’s Narodychi was designated as mandatory resettlement zone. Although the resettlement was not carried out officially for a number of reasons, a big portion of residents left. Even today, one may find villages with only a handful of people actually living there.
As a rural community, Narodychi does not have major enterprises, and its land is both the key resource and the principal challenge. A considerable part of soil is contaminated with radionuclides, which prohibits any farming activity. At the same time, land plots suitable for agriculture are leased to agricultural companies, making it the main source of local revenues.
The municipality stretches over the territory covered by numerous waterways and woods. Woodwork industry is one of the most dynamically developing economic activities here. The municipality’s sprawling network of motorways provides connection to the oblast centre and Ukraine’s capital. All this makes it attractive for potential investments.
The Drevliansky Natural Reserve
The natural reserve is located within the boundaries of Narodychi municipality, to the north-east of Narodychi, alongside the Uzh river and smaller rivers Loznytsia, Osliv and Zvizdal that feed it.
The natural reserve covers large areas of forests contaminated with radionuclides, meaning that this is the area of mandatory re-settlement, divided by smaller swaths of what used to be the farmland. For over 30 years after the Chernobyl catastrophe, the area has been evolving with no human interference. Now it is the habitat for more than 800 plant species, many of which are under the protection of the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. There are also species that are threatened with extinction and included in the European Red List.
Community and war
“On 24 February 2022, at about four in the morning, villages in the northern part of Narodychi municipality were hit by artillery and air strikes. This is the day when the life of every Ukrainian changed – ushering a new phase of life, a new countdown. Every inhabitant in Narodychi community, adults and children, instead of ‘good morning’ woke up to the words ‘the war has broken out’, – remembers Olena Chipak, head of economic development and investment sector at the local council.
From the very first days of war, several villages appeared under Russian occupation. It was through the territory of this rural municipality that the Russian troops were marching in their offensive from Belarus towards Kyiv. Residents of Radcha, Nova Radcha, Davydky and Hrezlia had to face and experience all the horrors and atrocities of occupation. Many peaceful residents were tortured and died; multiple houses were looted. Because of relentless shelling, people had to be buried in their own backyards or lawns. In Davydky, every second house was reduced to rubbles. The roads were littered with burnt cars and crushed enemy’s vehicles and machinery. Some villages still remain cut off because all the roads and bridges around are destroyed.
On 6 March, Viazivka village sustained shelling and strikes when the enemy launched its attack from the air. As a result, five non-residential buildings and the Church of the Birth of the Virgin Mary, Ovruch and Korosten diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were destroyed.
On 19 March, in the morning, Russian occupiers carried out another air raid on Narodychi causing fire in the local forestry. The strikes also destroyed the granary – the fire broke out and the roofing and floor structures of more than 500 square meters were consumed by flames.
Heavy fighting left some settlements without electricity and gas, on the verge of humanitarian catastrophe. There were acute shortages of food and medicines. During their retreat, Russian occupiers left behind minefields on large areas of land. Many residents were evacuated to relatively safer places in Zhytomyr oblast and further in Ukraine, some found shelter abroad.
After the war outbreak, the activity of local self-government in Narodychi municipality was suspended because of the military threat and occupation of part of the municipality. Until the situation became stabilized, the key responsibilities for the viability and reconstruction were placed upon Oleh Yarmoliuk, head of Narodychi military administration. Before the war, Oleh Yarmoliuk had been the secretary of Narodychi local council. Even under occupation, healthcare and municipal sector continued to operate.
After de-occupation by the Ukrainian Armed Forces on 4 April, the key task of the military administration was to restore peaceful life in community. It was essential, for example, to resume bus service between villages and to mount pontoon crossings in place of destroyed bridges.
Currently, the municipality is taking stock of damages and destruction caused to private property, social and industrial infrastructure. As of today, the inventory contains 700 sites, among which 47 sites of social infrastructure and about 50 residential buildings are completely demolished, and rest require repair and capital reconstruction.
The municipality is addressing the issue of humanitarian relief to affected population and vulnerable groups.
Vision for the future
The overarching priority for the community is to improve the ecological situation, which is currently a major constraint for the economic growth. Restoration of nature in the exclusion zone would unlock new possibilities for the development of tourism and renewable energy.
The municipality has also set ambitions to develop high-quality healthcare and education services, culture and sports infrastructure, and to create enabling environment for small and medium business and human capital development.