Windows, water, and dance: Supporting the conflict-affected in eastern Ukraine

Windows, water, and dance: Supporting the conflict-affected in eastern Ukraine

Jun 3, 2020

After six years of conflict in Donbas, the situation in eastern Ukraine remains precarious. Fighting has paralysed the historically productive region’s economic and agricultural activity, forcing people from their jobs and severely damaging the health and wellbeing of local inhabitants. 

The psychosocial impact of the crisis has been particularly devastating, as a range of factors – such as fear of shelling and landmines, family separation, limited access to basic services, and stress related to unemployment – have upended the lives of millions.

To support beneficiaries in the conflict-affected areas in Donbas, People in Need (PIN) implemented a multi-sectoral emergency and early recovery assistance project funded by UK Aid from the UK government. More than 68,000 people were supported by this project.

Repairing the footprints of war

During the project, PIN installed windows in the homes of families in non-government-controlled areas (NGCA) and government-controlled areas (GCA), helping people in Donbas better guard against the elements during the cold winter months. Some 400 families benefited from the program. “During the bombing, our two windows were completely taken out,” says Ivan Stepanovych, who lives with his wife in a multi-story building in Novoluhanske, a village on the contact line. “For two years we lived in the dark, with windows boarded up. Thank God there was an organisation that helped.”

Water supplies in many locations along the line of contact (LOC) have also been disrupted by fighting. To address this issue, PIN helped rehabilitate water systems in NGCA and GCA communities, including the drilling of wells in the frontline settlements of Novhorodske and Popasna. These activities, which benefited more than 50,000 people on both sides of the LOC, have contributed to the general improvement of sanitary and hygienic conditions in homes, schools, and preschool facilities.

A reason to dance again

In addition to infrastructure improvements, PIN has supported communities along the LOC with opportunities to socialise. For instance, we helped rehabilitate the Svitlodarsk Cultural Centre, which was partially damaged in 2015 by shelling. Today, the centre is once again being used for dancing classes for local children.

“It was very difficult to remain in the town because the bombing was very heavy,” says Valerii, the head of the cultural centre. “People used to stay in the basements for a long time. The town was empty. Parents took their children and left. And thank God, now many of them are back and again have the opportunity to visit dancing classes.”

The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine entered its seventh year in April. Although the conflict has faded from the headlines, the crisis continues. There are over 5 million people affected by the fighting, and a staggering 3.4 million of them are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Author: Alyona Budagovska, PIN Ukraine Communication Manager