In Their Own Words: Delivering Water to Conflict-Affected Populations in Eastern Ukraine during COVID-19

Published: Aug 13, 2020 Reading time: 3 minutes
In Their Own Words: Delivering Water to Conflict-Affected Populations in Eastern Ukraine during COVID-19
© Foto: People in Need

Dmitriy, an aid worker from eastern Ukraine, joined the People in Need (PIN) Ukraine team in 2018 as a WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) engineer. Before PIN, he was working in a local water utility company in Sloviansk, a town in eastern Ukraine. 

But when the armed conflict began in Donbas, he started wondering what he could do to support people suffering from a lack of access to water within the conflict-affected settlements in the conflict zone, and he finally decided to start working as a humanitarian worker. Currently he is working with PIN on a project funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

Why did you choose a career with People in Need?

I live in Sloviansk with my wife and daughter, and I didn’t leave it when the conflict started. I know very well the problems people face in the conflict area. I noticed that humanitarian organizations started supporting local people in need of humanitarian assistance. People in Need was the biggest one in Sloviansk providing different types of aid. I saw the PIN logo on boxes with aid, on leaflets, and on cars, and I was curious about whether it is possible to become a part of the PIN team. So, I applied for the position of engineer and joined the PIN WASH team.

What issues are you fighting, working in the field?

There are a lot of issues related to access to clean water in the settlements in Donbas. The water supply system is often damaged due to the fighting and thus needs rehabilitation. In some villages, there is no centralized water supply and people rely only on the wells and drinking water delivered by PIN. For example, in Pisky and Opytne, two frontline villages close to the Donetsk airport, there is no running water at all and there is no chance to rehabilitate the damaged pipes due to their proximity to the fighting area. We deliver water to such locations by trucks. Water supply is very essential, especially now, with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Are there any challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic that you have had to overcome?

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Ukraine, I didn’t realize how serious it was in the beginning. With the quarantine measures, there were certain changes in operational processes. Field trips were limited and we now have new regulations in place regarding how to work during this period. But I quickly adapted to the rules and I’m continuing my work with passion.

Has your work in the humanitarian sector changed you in a way?

Yes. Now I work with many people, meeting our beneficiaries, communicating with partners and other actors. This work taught me to listen to other people; I became more attentive. Besides that, my work provides a good opportunity for self-development and I feel confident in what I’m doing.

Has COVID-19 affected your social life as well?

I’m quickly adapting to the new challenges. So, I don’t feel major issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. I definitely care more about my family, my personal hygiene, and about the people I visit in the field, and I use all the measures like social distancing, wearing a mask, using disinfectants and more. But for me this is not a big deal.

Autor: Alyona Budagovska, PIN Ukraine Communications Manager

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