The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been working in Ukraine since 1993 on projects such as public administration reforms, sustainable economic development, energy efficiency and climate change mitigation.
When Russia’s war of aggression began in February 2022, GIZ rapidly took flexible measures to realign its work. Since then, the company has been supporting Ukraine on three levels. Firstly, it is helping to provide people with reliable supplies of essentials such as electricity, medicines and emergency accommodation, and it is also sourcing equipment needed for disaster management and the fire service. Secondly, it is looking ahead and facilitating efforts to begin rebuilding the country. And thirdly, GIZ continues to advise on reforms that will bring Ukraine more into line with the European Union (EU).
Rapid assistance for people in Ukraine
On behalf of the German Government, the EU and other donors, GIZ assists Ukraine in acute crisis management. This involves intensive dialogue not only with the Ukrainian Government but first and foremost with the municipalities. This gives people on the ground the swift, direct assistance they need most urgently. One focus of this work is maintaining the social infrastructure – such as hospitals, schools and community centres – as far as possible. As soon as the war started, GIZ supplied urgently needed materials to Ukraine. This included around 3,000 power generators as well as water tanks, tents and camp beds, along with mobile light towers, mini diggers and equipment that the municipalities can use to clear roads to secure the supply of provisions. GIZ is also procuring transformers for the transmission and distribution networks, plus measuring devices and replacement materials so the electricity grid can be repaired.
GIZ can take advantage of its network in Ukraine, which has been built up over the years and now covers all of the country’s municipalities, to ensure that the aid arrives reliably throughout the country. The company is in close contact with the relevant ministries, municipal and communal administrations, mayors and social services facilities to identify what people require most urgently. This rapid aid also benefits the many internally displaced persons. Right at the beginning of Russia’s war of aggression, for example, GIZ supplied about 300,000 internally displaced people in eastern Ukraine with staple foods, bedding and medicines. It also arranges accommodation and psychosocial support.
Alongside providing acute emergency aid, GIZ is also focusing on ways to assist in reconstruction. For example, it is helping Ukraine to keep its economy going even during the war. Around 1,800 small and medium-sized enterprises are receiving financial support, and GIZ is also advising them on accessing new markets and finding new customers. In addition, it works to identify safe locations for companies from areas that have been destroyed or occupied. This enables the businesses to continue operating and to safeguard jobs – which will stand them in good stead after the war too. GIZ also promotes vocational and technical education and training to ensure that young people still have the skills they require when they enter the labour market.
In June 2022, Ukraine became an official EU accession candidate. The Ukrainian Government is vigorously pressing ahead with the reforms necessary for accession – with support from GIZ. They cover aspects such as amending the constitution and legislation, removing trade barriers to enable the free movement of goods and services between Ukraine and the EU, and introducing measures to further enhance the professionalism of self-governance structures in the municipalities. Furthermore, GIZ provides advice on the European Energy Efficiency Directive. By doing so, it is already helping the municipalities to take EU standards into account when restoring buildings and reviving companies that have been destroyed or damaged in the war.