On the night of June 6, 2023, the dam at the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric power station in Ukraine, located on the front line, was partially destroyed, causing flooding as far away as the town of Kherson. SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL, present in Ukraine since the second phase of the conflict in February 2022, rapidly deployed its teams to help improve and restore access to drinking water for those affected.
The destruction of a Ukrainian dam
Located on the front line between the Moscow-controlled regions and the rest of Ukraine, the dam at the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric power station in southern Ukraine was partially destroyed on the night of Monday June 5 to Tuesday June 6, 2023. Nearly 18 billion tons of water poured into the region, causing severe flooding as far away as the city of Kherson.
The dam was intended to secure the water supply to large swathes of Ukraine in the Dnipro, Zaporijia, Kherson and Crimean Oblasts. For the time being, Ukraine and Russia are blaming each other for the partial destruction of the dam.
A human and ecological catastrophe
More than two weeks after the explosion of the Nova Kakhovka dam, the damage is already considerable. “A monumental humanitarian, economic and ecological catastrophe”, commented the UN Secretary-General. The exact number of victims is still uncertain. Thousands of people have had to flee the floods, leaving them homeless.
In addition, the water supply to a large part of Ukraine is compromised: downstream, due to water contamination caused by the flooding of industrial sites and the destruction of wastewater treatment plants; and upstream, due to the stoppage of pumping stations using the reservoir.
The region’s ecosystems have been seriously disrupted. Massive pollution resulting from the dumping of garbage, agrochemicals, and other hazardous materials, as well as the flooding and deactivation of sewage and wastewater treatment systems, is to be expected. This situation is likely to contaminate the soil, fauna and flora, posing a major threat to life and natural habitats.
A large-scale humanitarian response
Faced with the partial destruction of the dam, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL was quick to provide humanitarian aid to those affected. Teams on the ground distributed bottled water, hygiene kits as well as basic necessities, and facilitated the evacuation of people trapped by the floods. At the same time, our teams began distributing water by tanker. This emergency response, which is still ongoing, is complemented by rapid needs assessments in these areas.
Five water treatment facilities, each capable of producing up to 40,000 liters of drinking water per day, and six 10m³ water storage tanks have also been made available to SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL by the Veolia Foundation. This equipment is helping to improve and restore access to drinking water for those affected.
Drinking water is one of the most essential needs. While rapid responses have been deployed by many humanitarian actors in the main urban centers, response capacity in secondary towns remains very weak. For these reasons, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL is now focusing on flooded areas in the south of the Kherson and Mykolaev oblasts, in secondary towns and rural villages with populations ranging from 500 to 2,500 people. This will enable them to be supplied with drinking water.