Ukraine

WASH Cluster Ukraine Alert Bulletin, 01 September 2021, Issue 16

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Situation Report
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KEY WASH NUMBERS: MIDYEAR 2021

• 693,000 people reached by WASH activities: 36% of the 2021 HRP target.
However 90% of people reached live in GCA areas and only 10% in NGCA.

• 586,000 people benefited from hygiene activities aimed at COVID prevention.

• 86, 000 people received support from WASH recovery activities.

• 33 of 34 COVID-designated hospitals in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts received improved hygiene support at least once 3-months

WATER REPAIRS: ACCESS ISSUES

• Repair access is limited for at least 14 locations along the Line of Contact.

• Lack or limited access to the water infrastructure increases risks of water stoppages, environmental pollution by sewage, or putting water workers’ lives at risk.

• This issue is prevalent for both Donetsk and Luhansk oblast.

• The next issue of the WASH Cluster Bulletin will highlight access issues for repairs.

2021 MIDYEAR WASH INCIDENTS ANALYSIS: TRENDS AND DEVELOPMENTS

In the first half of 2021, the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine continued to affect access to safe drinking water and sanitation services to 3.1 million of more than 5 million people already worn down by seven years of military actions. In six months, the WASH Cluster identified 13 incidents on both sides of the Line of Contact, which is the lowest number of incidents, for first half of the year, since the monitoring system was established in late 2016. However each incident is important, and each risks the lives of water workers.

The number of incidents between January and June, 2021, was only around a quarter of those in the first half of 2020: only 13, compared to 48. For comparison, during the first of half of 2017, there were 79 incidents.

The recent trend is stable: the number of water infrastructure incidents in the second half of 2020 was the same as the first half of 2021 (13 in both cases). In short there have been far fewer incident recorded since the new ceasefire agreed on 27 July 2020, and that ceasefire has continued, largely, to hold in early 2021. However, if we consider actual hits of water and sanitation infrastructure than the stats are less optimistic.

To support the data on the actual number of security incidents, the WASH cluster also measures any negative impacts, in terms of the number of people for whom water was stopped, and the duration of each stoppage. In the first six months 2021 there were 466,000 people-days of stoppages, compared to the same period in 2020, when there were 3,900,000 people-days of stoppages.

In most cases, individual water stoppages have been short. However if prolonged stoppages were experienced, WASH Cluster partners would find it impossible to cover the gap in such a highly populated, urban setting. Allowing 15 liters per person according to the Sphere Standard, 466,000 people would require nearly 7,000 tons of water to fill the gap: the equivalent of 700 trips for a large, 10 ton water truck. In Ukraine, stopped water leads to stopped, urban heating; increased risks of water-related diseases; and risks that an urban population might leave the affected area. Clearly, then, it is far preferable to prevent such water stoppages.

During the first half of 2021 there were two key geographical zones, where there were the most incidents.

  1. Near Toretsk (GCA) and Horlivka (NGCA) there were five incidents. These put at risk the Sieverskyi Donets-Donbas channel, a key water source for the region, the Horlivka Waste Water Treatment plant (WWTP), and the drinking water pipeline from Horlivka Filter Station to Toretsk town.

  2. Close to Avdiivka (GCA) and Yasunuvata (NGCA), five incidents mainly affected to 1st Lift Pumping Station of the South Donbas waterway (1st Lift PS of SDWW) and pipelines to Verkhnetoretske village.

For the first time since record began, in 2016, the Donetsk Filter Station (DFS), did not experience any incidents (however, already one incident already happened in early July)!

The WASH Cluster would like to highlight two of the most critical individual risks during the first half of 2021:

• On 8th January 2021 (see Incident report #277) a repair team from Voda Donbasu water company was repairing pipelines in no man’s land, near Toretsk city, when they experienced small arms fire and they also believe they were under attack by grenade launcher(s). This incident represents a severe level of risk of injury to the civilian workers, and could have prevented repairs to a critical water pipeline which ensures access not only to drinking water but also heating, for the people of Toretsk city, during the winter. That incident was one of several in the same area, which led to the actual stoppage water supply, in January for 9 days, for Toretsk city, which has a population of 46,000.

• On 7th and 8th May 2021, in a second very worrying group of incidents (see Incident report #282 and Incident report #283) the water supply of 3.1 million people in Donetsk region was put at great risk by repeated shelling of a key water conduit. The Siverskyi Donets—Donbas channel, supplies water to the whole Donetsk region for both sides of the Line of Contact. The pipelines themselves received direct hits.

In conclusion, the WASH Cluster notes that people are almost always affected on both sides of the Line of Contact wherever incidents occur, due to the shared nature of those same water systems. Ceasefires seem to be effective only for short periods of time. Nevertheless, the overall trend for WASH-related security incidents is down on previous years, and has been fairly stable since July 2020.

Regardless that the number of incidents reduced, the WASH Cluster strongly emphasizes that even one incident of shelling, sniper fire or explosion of mines is an unacceptable risk to workers and could risk the stoppage of water supply to the whole region. The physical safety of water workers and critical infrastructure are essential to avoid a dramatic deterioration of the humanitarian situation .