On September 14-15th, Ukrainian and foreign experts discussed the principles of restoring Ukraine and the water industry. For the eighth time, representatives of Ukrainian water utilities, authorities, business industry, and specialized international organizations gathered in Lviv for the main event of the water industry, Lviv Eco Forum 2023. The event was attended by over 270 participants.
As the Utility Platform currently supports and coordinates 13 solidarity partnerships and an aid campaign for Ukrainian water operators, it was also present at the forum. Paulina Spiller described the work in the solidarity partnerships with Ukraine in her virtual presentation at the Forum: 14 water operators in different regions of Ukraine have entered partnerships with German water operators under the Utility Platform. Another three partnerships are currently in preparation. One operator partnership between Dresden and Lviv was already established before the beginning of the war. However, most operator partnerships in Ukraine are "solidarity operator partnerships", which emerged during the war. Due to the current situation, the focus is on procuring the necessary technical equipment as well as the required know-how to support Ukraine in restoring critical infrastructure.
This year's Eco Forum in Lviv was being held under the motto “Let's Restore Ukraine Together”. The event was organized by Ukrvodokanalekolohiia, the Association of Water Companies of Ukraine, with the support of UNICEF in cooperation with the Lviv Environmental Foundation and Lviv City Council. Oleksandr Butenko, Deputy Minister of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine, emphasized at the event: “Today, our priority is to develop the water supply industry. In wartime conditions, we are focused on helping the affected cities and enterprises. We have stable communication with all international donor agencies. I am grateful to all international partners for their support”.
To provide additional support to Ukrainian water companies in times of war, the Utility Platform supports an aid campaign. Since January 2023 German water operators can send goods to Ukraine free of charge via the logistics partner "Go Local". Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is carrying out this campaign together with the German Association of Local Utilities (VKU). It is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Since the beginning of the campaign, 41 German water operators have taken part in the call for donations. A total of 39 packages of goods consisting of 1439 goods were donated to 53 Ukrainian utilities. A sign of great solidarity with Ukraine! Transformers and generators top the list of donated goods with 31 percent, followed by water technology, vehicles and other transport-related goods, as well as protective gear.
Examples of the partnership work between German and Ukrainian water operators include visits from Chernihiv and Sumy to Oldenburg in Germany, a laboratory course for female workers from Lviv, Ternopil and Nadvirna in Dresden as well as aid convoys from Dresden to Lviv with urgently needed technical equipment, such as generators and chemicals for treating drinking water. Within the Ukrainian partnerships visits are realized only in one direction to Germany, which does not put a strain on the partnerships. All partnerships also live from virtual meetings to exchange as well as on procurements.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been working in Ukraine since 1993 on projects such as public administration reforms, sustainable economic development, energy efficiency and climate change mitigation. When Russia’s war of aggression began in February 2022, GIZ Ukraine rapidly took flexible measures to focus its work on supplying essentials like electricity and medicine, rebuilding the country and advise on reforms to become more into line with the European Union (EU). GIZ Ukraine was also present at the Lviv Eco Forum.
On top of the 14 solidarity partnerships between German und Ukrainian water operators, the Utility platform also supports partnerships with utilities in Jordan, Tanzania, Zambia, and South Africa. Central for all these partnerships are regular mutual visits for collegial advice at eye level, and exchange on important topics such as non-revenue water, chemicals, sludge management but also topics like general management.
The Utility Platform, who is advising on and supporting the initiation and implementation of the partnerships, is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and implemented as a cooperation project between Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and Engagement Global with its Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW). The development and implementation of the Utility Platform is carried out in cooperation with the German Association of Local Utilities (VKU) and the German Water Partnership (GWP).