Ukraine Acted

Interview : Strengthening local capacity and emergency preparedness in Ukraine

After years of fighting in Ukraine, 17.6  million people are in need of humanitarian aid, and many more are vulnerable to war-related risks, such as air raids, bombings, or prolonged utility service cuts and blackouts. Protecting communities from these risks and building local authorities’ capacity to protect civilians is essential.

 

As the lead agency of the 3P Consortium (“Prevent, Prepare, Protect”), ACTED with support of the European Union, works closely with local authorities, civil protection departments and social institutions to provide targeted capacity building and technical support. ACTED also provides essential equipment, such as tents, fire suits, mobile water heaters, power batteries, as well as bomb shelter renovation materials.

We met Andriy Goncharenko, 3P Consortium’s Project Manager, to learn more about the work being done to protect and prepare Ukrainians for emergencies.

What is the objective and scope of the project ?

The main objective of the “Reinforcing Civil Protection and Preparedness for Conflict Escalation in Ukraine” project is to improve the overall readiness of the Dnipro, Odessa, Chernihiv and Vinnytsia Oblasts to respond to war-related emergencies. Specifically, the 3P Consortium consisting of ACTED, IMPACT Initiatives, and the national  NGO “Right to Protection” is to assist local authorities in improving civil protection infrastructure, including basic rehabilitation of bomb shelters, provide material assistance to the local branches of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU) and civil protection authorities at the oblast, municipal and territorial community levels.

The 3P Consortium also intends to prepare evacuation and emergency response plans jointly with local authorities and provide support for the purchase and installation of public warning systems, as well as design, purchase, and disseminate information and education materials related to emergency preparedness and war impact readiness.

What are the specific emergency preparedness gaps that need to be addressed in Ukraine ?

Based on the experience gained during the implementation of humanitarian projects in Ukraine since 2015 and especially since the latest war escalation in February 2022, ACTED has identified several issues that need to be addressed and assisted by international donors. The number of available bomb shelters and their condition are inadequate to protect people. Moreover, the population often lacks the basic knowledge and skills to provide first aid to injured or sick people, and access to important information on the location of shelters, medical facilities, firefighting entities, etc. is limited. Warning of threatened air raids or missile strikes could not be provided, because many territorial communities (hromadas) didn’t have the necessary equipment or capabilities. Although there were some mass evacuation or emergency response plans designed by local authorities, they were never publicly distributed or were outdated or unrealistic. ACTED is attempting to address all of these issues with the current EU-funded project.

How will this project improve the readiness to respond to war-related emergencies ?

The project includes the provision of various material assets (equipment, tools, tents, etc.) to local authorities and SESU.

ACTED provides material support to SESU in Dnipro March 2023

Community members receive trainings in first aid and psychological first aid. This synergy is expected to significantly improve preparedness for emergencies and hostilities caused by the escalating war. The warning systems provided by ACTED should also provide the local population with early warning of potential threats. The printing and dissemination of information, education and communication materials, as well as the broadcasting of educational videos on television and social media, will enable people to access relevant information and better respond to emergencies.

ACTED conducts first aid and psychological support training in Vinnytsia February 2023
ACTED conducts first aid and psychological support training in Vinnytsia, February 2023

How does the project plan to engage local authorities and civil protection entities and build their capacity to manage risks ?

ACTED’s preparedness team has project officers in all four oblasts covered by the project. We have been able to establish a successful collaboration with local SESU branches and many local authorities at different levels: from the oblast to territorial community (hromada) or village. We can succeed only if the local authority is cooperative and interested in receiving assistance from the 3P Consortium in the field of civil protection and emergency preparedness.

Our collaboration should not be limited to material assistance ; communication, advice and training are also important elements of ACTED’s work with local authorities.

Andriy Goncharenko

What type of intervention is planned to prepare local communities for risks and mitigation measures ?

Members of the 3P Consortium provide different types of training to local communities and individuals. ACTED conducts first aid and psychological first aid trainings and provides people with access to necessary information. IMPACT trains local civil protection officials in emergency response mapping, geographic information systems and evacuation route planning. Right to Protection provides training and consultations on raising awareness of international humanitarian law and protection standards, as well as addressing the needs of vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities, the elderly, people with limited mobility, women, children, etc. All of these efforts are expected to improve the level of preparedness for emergencies, natural disasters and war risks.

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