Ensuring Access to Safe Drinking Water in Ukraine
Crimea, Ukraine - Ensuring access to clean drinking water is critical for human development in Ukraine and remains one of the most socially important issues because of its direct impact on the nation’s health. At present, Ukraine faces many challenges in providing safe drinking water to its population due to aging water supply infrastructure and limited water sources, weak capacity of local authorities to manage water resources, and lack of awareness of the importance of water supply and quality among the general population.
There are major problems with the water supply in Crimea: a shortage of safe drinking water, inefficient and unreliable system of water purification and disinfection, shortages of disinfection equipment in rural areas, and old and damaged sanitary and technical condition of the water supply system and pipelines. Over 50 percent of the water pipelines and distribution systems in Crimea require urgent repairs or replacement.
Since September 2010, IRD has worked to increase access to safe drinking water by improving water supply and quality in 15 targeted healthcare facilities in Crimea and the surrounding communities, thus ensuring access of vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, children, and the elderly, to safe and clean water. The project is rehabilitating the water sanitation units and pipes of the health facilities and outposts to provide clean water to patients, staff, and visitors. IRD, in collaboration with local authorities, conducted a thorough technical assessment of the facilities’ water supply systems and developed an improvement plan based on the findings.
The project is also undertaking activities that will improve the roles and responsibilities of authorities and communities in drinking water safety management. As many aspects of drinking-water quality management are often outside the direct responsibility of the water supplier, it is essential that a collaborative multiagency approach be adopted. This will ensure that all stakeholders—any agency with responsibility for specific areas within the water cycle—are involved in the management of water quality and can coordinate planning and management activities.
IRD is organizing roundtables discussions for representatives of raion- and village-level administrations, management of municipalities, and healthcare facilities. Seminars for heads of rural councils and heads of health outposts are being conducted to discuss safe water consumption, hygiene practices, and the influence of the environment on the health of community members. IRD is also conducting advocacy and community awareness work to increase the role of communities in prioritizing their needs and encouraging their participation in the decisionmaking process.
Over 15 months IRD addressed critical water supply needs in nine major hospitals and six rural health outpatient facilities of Crimea that were experiencing critical water problems. Now, 200,000 patients per year and 5,100 medical personnel working in these medical facilities have access to clean water.