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 has increased the resilience toward disaster risks of more than 180 000 people so far through their activities.
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 3P Consortium 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 process throughout 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.
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Lisa Hastert, EU Humanitarian Aid Regional Information Officer: Lisa.Hastert@echofield.eu