Clean water for Eastern Ukraine (completed)

Project description

Title: Maintaining access to water for local residents and displaced persons in the Mariupol area (UNICEF)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Ukraine
Lead executing agency: Municipal administrations, regional and municipal water utilities
Overall term: 2016 to 2021


There have been armed conflicts between the Ukrainian military and separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine since 2014. More than 1.5 million people have left their homes due to the fighting to seek protection in other regions of the country, the port city of Mariupol and nearby towns among them. They and the 450,000 local residents live with the threat of renewed hostilities.

Everyday life for the internally displaced persons and the local population is fraught with challenges. Amongst these is the catastrophic water supply, which causes them enormous hardship. Even before the conflict, around 40 percent of water was lost due to outdated, broken and inefficient pipelines. The conflict has exacerbated the situation. Central water pipelines flow through contested territory and are repeatedly damaged, by artillery fire for example. Should replacement parts even be available, carrying out repairs puts the workers at great risk. Additionally, frequent power outages result in the drinking water supply being interrupted for hours or even days.


In the greater Mariupol area, the water supply has improved due to work on treatment and distribution of drinking water and repairs to the network.


GIZ is working to improve the water supply in the cities of Mariupol, Vuhledar and Selydove and the bordering villages with funding from the German Government. The project is implemented on behalf of GIZ by the United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF) based on a subsidy agreement.

The water utilities are receiving training to ensure the long-term provision of drinking water to the local people. For example, they are learning how to realistically calculate the amount of water needed and develop a strategy to avoid water loss. They are also rehabilitating the water system, replacing corroded pipelines and procuring new equipment for pump stations. This will enable them to reduce their running costs, save energy and increase supply security.

In order to improve access to drinking water in the villages as well as urban areas, the project partners are repairing local water sources and rehabilitating boreholes and wells where necessary. In particular, they are supplying water to kindergartens, schools and healthcare facilities to ensure children and young people receive clean drinking water. These measures are important for local people and internally displaced persons alike. They also contribute to the different population groups living peaceably together, groups that would otherwise be competing for the scarce resource of water.

The improved water supply resulting from repairs to the network, combined with proper treatment repairs and distribution of drinking water, reduces the pressure on the local population, including internally displaced persons to migrate.


Based on the successful cooperation to date, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has ensured the rehabilitation of public water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure, which has improved the water supply systems for over one million people in the ‘endangered areas’ in the administrative district (Oblast) of Donetsk, including around 180,000 children.

During the first 18 months since the project began, its interventions have produced the following results aimed at guaranteeing access to clean drinking water for the local population and the internally displaced persons:

  • Reconstruction of the municipal water supply systems was prioritised in the districts (raions) with a high risk of disruption in the water supply: Volnovakha, Marinka, Nikolske and Manhush. More initiatives to provide technical support to water utilities will be started at various locations. New water pipelines have replaced the severely damaged water system which supplies the cities of Selydove, Vuhledar and Volnovakha (all in the Donetsk Oblast). The 85,000 people who live there are already benefiting from increased supply security.
  • Hydraulic and electrical equipment was provided for the regional water supply companies Voda Donbassa and Vodakanals for the supply networks and pumping stations, along with treatment plans for the maintenance and repair work. The rehabilitation work already carried out at the pump stations in Olynka and Novomikhailivka has safeguarded the water supply for 500,000 people north of Mariupol and within the city.
  • A partnership agreement was signed with the implementation partner Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) to carry out WASH activities in rural areas. The rehabilitation of water supply systems in 28 municipalities and the maintenance of sanitary facilities – particularly in health and educational institutions – have been integrated into the agreement. A total of 105,000 people will benefit from this.

Additional information