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Ukraine is a sovereign state in Eastern Europe, the largest country in Europe by area (603,500 km2). The population of the country is near 42 million people, with 70% being urban population. Until 1991, Ukraine was a part of the USSR, and the majority of infrastructural objects of the country were built in the times of the Soviet Union. Nowadays, most of them are out of service or require reconstruction and development. However, they are exploited as long as their performance is satisfactory. The dilapidation of sewerage, water supply, and electricity networks creates serious risks for the local population in case of a disaster. The fact that a part of Ukrainian territory is controlled by Russia increases the risks. Thus, there is no recent data about the vitally important infrastructure, education, and medicine in the occupied territories. A brief review of the vitally important infrastructural networks in Ukraine shows major vulnerabilities in water supply and sewerage networks, insufficient development of the educational system and healthcare, which makes the country extremely vulnerable in case of a military conflict or natural disaster.

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Sewage

The sewage system in Ukraine is vulnerable to negative external factors. The coverage of water supply in Ukraine is rather high (83.3%) (OECD, 2016). According to Business Sweden report, 83% of Ukrainian water and drainage utilities are owned by local municipalities (Business Sweden, 2016). However, at least 35% of the sewerage networks should be reconstructed. Moreover, the coverage of sewerage networks is significantly lower and constitutes no more than 60%. While in cities more than 90% of the residents are connected to sewage systems, in rural areas many people leave in private houses and use primitive private landfills. As a result, their waste often pollutes the local environment. On the other hand, urban population as well as infrastructural objects are more vulnerable to malfunctioning of the sewage system.

Another risk factor for Ukrainian sewerage networks is the industrial liquid waste. Thus, it is estimated that about 80% of purifying systems on Ukrainian industrial enterprises require reconstruction (Unicef Ukraine, n.d.). The risk of toxic wastes leakage and local environmental disaster is rather high in some regions, particularly in Zaporizhzhia, Kryvyi Rih and other industrial centers of the country. Unless the situation is improved, poor sewage network poses a risk in case of disaster.

Water

The major part of Ukrainian territory has sufficient natural water supplies, including large and small rivers, lakes, streams, artificial water reservoirs, and artesian water supply. However, only 25% of fresh water supplies originate in Ukraine, while most of them come from the neighboring countries, namely Russia and Belarus (Unicef Ukraine, n.d.). The distribution of freshwater resources in the country is irregular: western and central-western regions are rich in natural water, while eastern and southern regions require additional water supply, especially for agriculture (Kovalenko, n.d.). More than 83% of Ukrainians have easy access to natural fresh water and have running water in the houses (OECD, 2016). However, water supply systems are mostly outdated. The main risks for the Ukrainian water supply are the high level of daily water consumption per capita and a lack of awareness of sustainable water use among the population. Furthermore, because of the lack of financing, local authorities prefer to fix leaks when they appear instead of undertaking total reconstruction. Consequently, the water supply system can react to minor challenges but can collapse in case of a serious disaster.

Electricity

Ukraine produces enough electricity for the internal needs and export. However, the electrical distribution systems are mainly located at the zone of risk. The country produces electrical energy on five nuclear power plants, a cascade of hydroelectric plants on the main river Dnipro, and numerous power stations. In addition, Ukraine generates energy from renewable energy sources, including solar and wind energy. Two main vulnerabilities of the Ukrainian energy system are the poor energy transporting system, especially in rural areas, and dependence on non-renewable energy sources.

The system of energy distribution in Ukraine was designed to meet the needs of the Soviet industrial sector. After the USSR collapse, the structure of energy consumption changed but energy distribution remained the same. The military conflict in Donbas in 2014 resulted in the shortage of coal delivery, which caused problems with energy production and central heating delivery in some regions (Kabash, 2014). Thus, in extreme conditions, the lack of electricity is possible in some regions.

Academics

The educational system in Ukraine is well-developed and includes preschools (kindergartens) for children aged 2-7 years, schools for children aged 7-16 (or 17), colleges and special schools for teenagers, and universities that provide high education. A teaching plan is developed before the start of each school year; hence, every teacher can continue working even during a military conflict when there is no danger for children’s life.

In most regions of Ukraine, the educational facilities are safe enough. However, in the zone of the armed conflict, the situation is different. Thus, Human Rights Watch reports that both Ukrainian Army and Russian-backed militants often use schools for military purposes. (Human Rights Watch, 2017).Although the organization structure of Ukrainian educational system is flexible, children cannot continue their education when schools are used for military purposes. Thus, in case of a military conflict or disaster, it is reasonable to avoid placing military objects in schools or in neighboring territories.

Trash

Solid waste management is Ukraine is poorly developed. Ukrainian enterprises recycle paper, metal, glass, and a few other types of waste materials; however, there are not enough recycling plants in the country. In addition, the shortage of recycling plants is exacerbated by the lack of motivation to sort solid wastes and low environmental awareness among the population. In the urban zones, sanitary tracks collect trash from households and transport it to landfills. The most popular method of unsorted solid waste management is the use of open landfills, which are often illegal or overloaded. Thus, 30% of more than 6,000 of existing open landfills are uncertified (Business Sweden, 2016). The country also exports a part of sorted solid waste, especially metal and plastic that can be used for recycling. In case of disaster, solid wastes will further collect in open landfills.
Local authorities try to improve the situation with trash management. For instance, i 2017, the Ukrainian government adopted the National Waste Management Program until 2030. The main goal of the program is to increase the level of solid waste reuse. Nevertheless, nowadays, a natural disaster or military conflict can cause transport collapse and exacerbate the trash problem in cities.

Medical Support

Reviewing medical support, it is necessary to focus on the readiness of the local healthcare system to react effectively in case of military aggression or natural disaster. The problems with water supply and sewage can cause epidemic. Additionally, the immunization level is low; the best coverage is for polio immunization (90%) after a 2-year campaign. In general, the average immunization level in the country is 30%, with 10% coverage for hepatitis B and 3% for diphtheria (“WHO and UNICEF estimates of national immunization coverage”, 2017). Ukraine also reports about high levels of HIV-infected patients and drug-resistant tuberculosis.

On the other hand, the ongoing conflict in the East stimulates the development of military medicine. Since the beginning of the military conflict in Donbas, Ukraine actively cooperates with other countries in the area of medical support. The result of this cooperation is an increase in the number of trained medical instructors, paramedics and other staff. In addition, Medical Rehabilitation Trust Fund created by NATO trains new experts in physical and psychological rehabilitation (NATO, 2015). Ukraine also makes use of some new technologies, especially in wound surgery and prosthetics. Therefore, despite some negative tendencies, Ukraine has sufficient medical support.

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Safety

The situation with safety in Ukraine is currently undergoing unprecedented structural change. After the revolution in 2014 and Russian invasion of Crimea and east of Ukraine, Ukrainian citizens organized themselves into different groups, including volunteer militia to funds. Ukraine cooperates with neighboring countries to improve the fire security service and implement the police reform. As a result, the security level constantly increases on the government-controlled territory.

However, a part of Ukrainian territory is not controlled by the national government, and the safety level is different there. Although there is no comprehensive and reliable data on the security level on the Crimean Peninsula annexed by the Russian Federation, there are numerous reports about human rights violation.

The territory controlled by the military formation on the East of Ukraine possesses a low level of safety. Military leaders can support the basic systems such as water and electricity supply, sewage, medical services, etc. However, according to Human Rights Watch (2017), there is massive gun and drug trafficking, human trafficking, illegal alcohol and tobacco production, and other criminal activities on the territory. The organization reports that at least 18 people are held in secret detention (Human Rights Watch, 2017). Thus, these activities can spread to the neighboring regions.

Others

Ukraine is the largest European country by area. It has a well-developed transport system, including land roads, railways, and air and water transportation. However, poor quality of roads prevents fast mobilization and shipment of resources. Furthermore, river transportation is not developed, which makes it is almost impossible for the emergency crew to move from one region to other fast. Thus, in case of an emergency, it is necessary to rely mainly on local recourses, including staff and equipment.

The main risk for the safety in Ukraine is the military conflict in the eastern part of the country. Thus, insurgents control the territory that used to be the industrial center of the country. The region of Donbas is known for coal production and high concentration of metallurgical and chemical plants. Now many of these facilities are out of order and create the risk for non-occupied territory. Liquid chemicals and toxic wastes from these plants can pollute the air and fresh water. For example, there is a treat of a chlorine leak in the water purifying facility in Donetsk (Zwijnenburg, 2017). The renewal of hostilities will increase the risk of disaster. Thus, it is reasonable to control the possible sources of contamination.

Conclusion

Ukraine is a highly-urbanized country with more than 70% of population living in cities. As a result, it is vulnerable to the sewage network, water and electricity supply malfunctioning in urban zones. Many networks are outdated and they can hardly resist disasters. Despite the poor solid waste management, it can hardly cause a catastrophe. The educational system and medical support can renew their functioning in quickly. The main problem in Ukraine is a low safety level. Criminal activities and human rights violation on the uncontrolled territories cannot be stopped by the national government at the moment. Mobile brigades can help to stabilize the situation in Ukraine in case of a large-scale military conflict. However, the local government should reconstruct water supply and sewerage networks and increase population awareness.

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