People in Need helping in dam-flooded regions of Ukraine

In the wake of the Kakhovka dam flooding, the Czech government and NGOs have joined the humanitarian aid effort. The Czech Defense Ministry is preparing a consignment of tankers for the distribution of drinking water, life vests and water pumps and the Foreign Ministry has earmarked 10 million crowns to assist the humanitarian effort. NGOs are also pitching in. I spoke to Petr Štefan from the largest Czech charity organization People in Need about its response to the crisis.

Petr Štefan | Photo: Czech Television

“We responded immediately to the needs of the people in the villages which were flooded. Even as we speak we are distributing drinking water in two villages on the right bank of the Dnipro River. In the coming days we want to deliver emergency water storage tanks and we are planning to distribute 1,000 hygiene kits among the people affected. This is based on the needs articulated yesterday by the Ukrainian authorities.”

People in Need has been helping in Ukraine since the war started, so you have a presence there, you have contacts there -is it difficult to get to the area to deliver supplies?

Photo:  Roman Hrytsyna,  ČTK/AP

“We managed to do it, because we are doing everything in coordination with the local authorities. We do not go somewhere randomly. We always coordinate with the local authorities and react to their needs, because they are the first responders, they know the area and everything is based on their invitation and their needs. So we do not have problems accessing this area, because the aid is closely coordinated with the local authorities and we can go and help them with the things they are not able to secure alone.”

What is the situation on the ground like where you are helping? What are the immediate priorities?

Photo: Evgeniy Maloletka,  ČTK/AP

“When it comes to the Kakhovka dam breach then the first priority is definitely drinking water. The authorities are requesting 500,000 liters of drinking water per day. So that is the top priority. Then the water tanks, that I mentioned, but we are also giving psychosocial support to the people who were evacuated from the area. And in the long-term period, once the water level subsides, we are planning to help with the restoration of the flooded areas, for instance we will help with digging boreholes or repairing water pipes and so on.”

Has this crisis changed your immediate priorities in Ukraine?

Photo: ČTK/AP/Uncredited

“It didn’t much, because our priority is still in the eastern part of the country where the humanitarian situation is very critical due to ongoing fighting along the frontlines. We are continuing all our existing programs which are focused on deliveries of basic humanitarian aid along the frontlines. We are also distributing cash to the people, so that they can buy what they need most. We are helping to repair houses. We have already repaired over 8,500 houses damaged by shelling since the war begun. So all our programs remain on track. Just now we are shifting our attention to this response as well because it is critical and the aid is needed immediately.”

Is there a collection that people can contribute to – I assume you would advise them against travelling to the region to help –or are you looking for volunteers?


“We are not. We have an experienced team there. On the ground in Ukraine we have over 300 employees or colleagues and the team is settled and prepared to respond, so we are not looking for volunteers at the moment. We are buying everything locally, so there is no need to buy anything. We have what we need in our warehouses and we are distributing the goods to the locals.

As for how to best help, we would really appreciate contributions to our SOS Ukraine Emergency Appeal  -people can find it on our website and can contribute whatever sum they can afford to give. And we can guarantee that this money will be used in response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.”

Photo: ČTK/AP/Uncredited
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