Protecting people in eastern Ukraine from disaster risks

Ecological and industrial disasters affect millions of people every year worldwide, but much of their impact can be reduced through proactive measures and planning. The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, held each year on October 13th, aims to promote a global culture of disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness. It is also an opportunity to acknowledge losses in lives, livelihoods, and health, and highlight the progress being made toward reducing disaster risk.

Addressing disaster risks, such as the ones degrading the environment, is extremely relevant for Ukraine. Daily shelling in eastern Ukraine occurs in the proximity of chemical enterprises and critical water infrastructures and utilities such as water and heating mains, as well as assets. The flooding of coal mines, or wildfires, have the potential to trigger a large-scale ecological disaster, putting the population and economy of the region at risk. Capacity building via dedicated trainings, planning and provision of equipment of local communities, local authorities, first responders and other stakeholders are therefore essential to increase disaster resilience.

The ACTED-led 3P Consortium (Prevent, Protect, Prepare) – including its partners IMPACT Initiatives, Right to Protection, Ukrainian Red Cross Society, and the Danish Red Cross - have been working to reduce the vulnerability to these risks in eastern Ukraine since 2019. With support from the Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance, the European Union and UK Aid from the British people, 3P hasincreased the resilience toward disaster risks of more than 180 000 people so far through their activities.

The Head of the EU Humanitarian Aid office in Ukraine, Srdjan Stojanovic,said: “The European Commission is at the forefront of promoting disaster risk reduction and anticipatory actions. The EU invests in early warning systems and monitoring, and helps countries strengthen their national and local preparedness systems to respond earlier and better.”

In line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015- 2030, 3P partners work on three key aspects of disaster risk management:

Risks: National and local strategies for disaster risk reduction are key to reducing mortality and the numbers of disaster-affected people. The 3P Consortium, together with local authorities, has developed disaster risk reduction plans and strategies for accidents, catastrophes, pandemics, and ecological and industrial disasters for 5 raions in eastern Ukraine. In addition, the 3P Consortium is providing local authorities and first responders with equipment to build up their capacities to respond in an organized, informed, and quick manner to emergencies. Moreover, the longstanding conflict in eastern Ukraine has further compounded the vulnerability of people and systems, and evidence-based local planning and response capacity remains more important than ever. This is why, to increase local authorities’ and communities’ understanding of and preparedness to risks, the #3PConsortium developed 5 Area Based Risk Assessments used as basis for risks prioritization by authorities. These were developed and shared with the communities and local authorities as a background for risk management plan development.

People: The 3P Consortium is working with communities in eastern Ukraine to increase their resilience, preparedness, and capacity to cope with relevant hazards through emergency planning sessions and simulations. As a result, 37 communities of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, thanks to the participation of 400 people, have become more prepared against industrial and environmental threats.

A recent example of 3P’s work is the development of an educational online game on Family Emergency Preparedness (FEP), designed to increase the preparedness of those living in eastern Ukraine for emergencies. The goal of the game is to form a stockpile of necessary family items for a 2-week lockdown as well as a 3-day personal emergency bag and prepare a car in case you have to leave your home. This simulation aims to teach practical skills in an informative and playful way.

Law: Taking into account the ongoing decentralization processthroughout Ukraine where more resources and responsibility now fall to local government units than before, it is essential to continue conducting analytical research to adapt preparedness and response planning to the projected new administrative boundaries and responsibilities. This is why the 3P Consortium is conducting a study of strategic documents at national, regional and local levels against Disaster Risk Reduction aspects. As a result, 3P partners will develop strategies at all levels with respective planning, budgeting and prioritizing.

“The 3P Consortium is continuing to provide technical and planning support for eastern settlements and administrative entities, as started 3 years ago. Meanwhile, recent wildfires are showing a very important concerns from local residents with extremely severe impacts, exacerbated by climate change and degradation of the natural resources. These are priorities which have been not addressed for many years, with a high susceptibility to cause major disruption” said Benoit Gerfault, 3P Consortium Coordinator.

By reducing vulnerability and increasing the capacities of various stakeholders – such as local authorities, communities, and first responders – to identify, plan for, cope with, and mitigate risks, 3P Consortium members are on the right path to achieve their overall objective: to enhance local absorptive, adaptive, and transformative capacity of communities, and improve local authorities’ ability to understand, govern and manage disaster risks in eastern Ukraine.

Notes:

The 3P Consortium, formed in 2019, comprises a group of international and national NGOs engaged in Ukraine – ACTED, IMPACT Initiatives, Right to Protection, the Danish Red Cross, and the Ukrainian Red Cross Society. Under the leadership of ACTED, the 3P Consortium works to support the reduction of disaster risk vulnerability in eastern Ukraine. 3P partners are united by their desire to prevent, prepare and protect – the ‘3P’ – civilian populations and critical service systems against the risks of natural, ecological, and industrial disasters in eastern Ukraine.

3P Consortium Partners:

ACTED http://www.acted.org - is a French humanitarian organization present in 39 countries and supporting over 16 million beneficiaries worldwide. ACTED works to save lives and support people in meeting their needs in hard to reach areas. ACTED first responded to the crisis in Ukraine in 2015, with its partner IMPACT through the REACH Initiative. In 2017, ACTED also started implementing emergency preparedness and contingency planning activities jointly with local authorities in conflict-affected areas. Today, ACTED provides a variety of humanitarian and development assistance in Ukraine including emergency cash distribution to cover basic, food security, and winterization needs of the most vulnerable; early recovery and economic stability activities such as livelihood grants and women’s economic empowerment; and capacity building support to CSOs and local authorities within the framework of decentralization.

IMPACT Initiatives https://www.impact-initiatives.org is a leading Geneva-based think-and-do tank. Together with sister organization ACTED and UNOSAT, IMPACT launched the REACH Initiative in 2010, which provides granular data, timely information and in-depth analysis from contexts of crisis, disaster and displacement to feed into evidence-based aid response and decision-making. Since 2016, the REACH initiative has been leading annual interagency humanitarian needs assessments to inform the Humanitarian Needs Overview and Response Plans in Ukraine. IMPACT–including through REACH –also provides continuous information management and geographic information systems support and capacity building to humanitarian agencies and clusters. IMPACT has been providing capacity reinforcement and technical support to local authorities in eastern Ukraine since 2016.

Right to Protection (R2P) – is a Ukrainian not-for profit organization. R2P is dedicated to protecting refugees who find themselves in Ukraine due to dire circumstances. R2P ensures the protection and human rights of other vulnerable migrants -the conflict affected, the internally displaced (IDPs), the stateless, the undocumented and those at risk of statelessness. R2P's key programmatic strengths are legal assistance, monitoring, advocacy as well as government and civil society capacity building. R2P has approximately 150 staff members working across Ukraine.

Danish Red Cross (DRC) https://www.rodekors.dk is part of the Red Cross Movement, which operates in over 190 countries and has more than 11 million volunteers. DRC provides aid particularly in areas with very limited access and complex crises in more than 30 countries over the world. Present since 2014 in Ukraine, DRC worksin close partnership with the Ukrainian Red Cross Society (URCS), and together have been addressing humanitarian and social needs in more than 15 regions of Ukraine through psychosocial support, cash assistance, and winterization response activities aiming at greater social cohesion. DRC is supporting branch, volunteer and youth development of the URCS, as well as enhancing preparedness and response capacities.

Ukrainian Red Cross Society (URCS) https://redcross.org.ua/en/ is the largest national humanitarian organization in Ukraine. The main aims of URCS’s activities for more than 100 years has been to ensure human life protection, prevention and mitigation of human suffering during armed conflicts, natural disasters, catastrophes and accidents; support public healthcare services; and assist public authorities of Ukraine in their activities in the humanitarian field. This is achieved unbiasedly, without any discrimination based on nationality, race, gender, religion, language, class or political convictions. URCS is constantly present on the Line of Contact, supporting the population with different activities including humanitarian aid distribution, first aid trainings, psycho-social support and supporting activities for/with local communities. URCS also actively engages with ICRC operations in eastern Ukraine.

EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) https://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en The European Union and its Member States are the world's leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by disasters and crises. Through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department, the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs.

UK Aid https://www.ukaiddirect.org/ Funded by the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, UK Aid Direct supports small and medium sized civil society organisations to deliver the Global Goals. The Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), which supports the 3P Consortium’s work, was launched by the British Government in 2015 and uses a whole-of-government approach to find creative solutions to meet the most complex national security challenges and promote international peace and stability. The CSSF operates in over 80 countries and territories, delivering more than 90 programmes and combines Official Development Assistance (ODA) and other, non-ODA funding sources. This gives the fund a broad geographic and thematic reach. The CSSF works to build peace and stability in countries at risk of instability as well as in regions suffering from long-running conflicts.

USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) https://www.usaid.gov USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance provides life-saving humanitarian assistance—including food, water, shelter, emergency healthcare, sanitation and hygiene, and critical nutrition services— to the world’s most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach people. BHA is the lead federal coordinator for international disaster assistance, harnessing the expertise and unique capacities of other U.S. government entities to effectively respond to natural disasters and complex crises around the world. BHA takes a holistic look at humanitarian aid, providing assistance before, during and after a crisis— from readiness and response to relief and recovery. This includes non-emergency programming that is foundational to linking humanitarian assistance to long-term development and the journey to self-reliance