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Delivering safe drinking water against all odds in eastern Ukraine

By Kusali Nellie Kubwalo

Donetsk region, Ukraine, 16 April 2017 – Over the last three years Roman Pleshkun has made more than 1,000 water deliveries to communities affected by the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

Roman Pleshkun, ADRA Field Coordinator hands over bottles of water to a villager in Sopine, Volnovakha raion in Donetsky region in Ukraine where fighting has interrupted the water supply. - UNICEF Ukraine / Ekaterina Voloshina / 2017

Roman is a field Coordinator, working for ADRA, a Non Governmental Organisation that has partnered with UNICEF to provide safe water and sanitation services to affected communities.

“We have been attacked so many times, I am not afraid anymore. I have seen people around me being killed, but the fact that I am alive means I have to continue delivering water to those who need it,” he says.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine - now in its fourth year - has resulted in the steady deterioration of life. Approximately 1.7 million people are internally displaced, families have lost their incomes and access to basic resources like safe water can be cut off at any time.

Roman is delivering 4,800 litres of water to Sopine village in the region of Donetsk, just 5 kilometers from the contact line, a line that divides government and non-government-controlled areas and where fighting is most intense.

Roman Pleshkun, ADRA Field Coordinator explains the water distribution process and assures the villagers of continued supply of water with support from UNICEF. - UNICEF Ukraine / Ekaterina Voloshina / 2017

The water supply has been cut off for almost a year in Sopine. A few months ago it resumed but is unsafe to drink. When Roman’s truck pulls up, people in the community are relieved.

“I was running low. The alternative is to buy but there is no money, I do not have any money to pay for drinking water,” says 85 year old Galina Datsyuk.

Roman starts by explaining that each person will be given 15 Litres and also assures the villagers of continued supply. He says that with support from UNICEF, ADRA will be providing the village with safe water, will soon be installing a water tank and replacing rusty and damaged pipes.

Villagers from Sopine, Volnovakha carry safe water home. 300 villagers received 2.5 Litres of water per person. - UNICEF Ukraine / Ekaterina Voloshina / 2017

With support from the Government of Germany, UNICEF has supplied 2.5 million people in conflict-affected regions of eastern Ukraine with access to safe drinking water and sanitation by building two major pump stations and 15 sewerage pump-stations. Over 170,000 litres of water has been delivered to areas where water has been interrupted due to fighting.

Roman also delivers hygiene kits and meets local authorities to negotiate the safe passage and protection of water and sanitation supplies when fighting intensifies and access is compromised.

“I hope this conflict ends soon, people deserve peace. We deserve to lead a normal life,” he says.



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