24 March, Kyiv- In just one year, Ukraine’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has shrunk by almost 30 percent, and up to half the country’s energy infrastructure has been destroyed. On a visit to Kyiv, United Nations Development Programme Assistant Secretary-General and Crisis Bureau Director Asako Okai said averting the energy crisis, demining key areas and removing debris caused by destroyed buildings were critical steps for the country’s recovery.
“The war has reversed 15 years of progress in Ukraine and pushed poverty levels from five to 24 percent. We cannot wait for the war to end – we must invest now in Ukraine’s resilient recovery and reconstruction to prevent millions more from cascading into poverty, hunger and destitution,” said ASG Okai.
In the past year, it is estimated some 1.4 million houses have been damaged or destroyed, 5 million people have lost their jobs, and more than 180,000 square kilometers of land – an area four and a half times the size of Switzerland – maybe contaminated with mines. Compounding this, it is estimated that up to half the country’s energy infrastructure has now been destroyed, leaving whole communities without heat, light or water.
ASG Okai reaffirmed UNDP’s commitment to work with the Government of Ukraine, and partners, to provide this critical development support.
In response to this escalating energy crisis, UNDP is urgently procuring specialized energy equipment, funded by the Government of Japan, to keep the electricity flowing. This includes five high voltage autotransformers which will help to provide energy to 4.5 million people to keep the lights in their homes and businesses; gas turbine for electricity generation for Kyiv, over 1000 generators and power banks to power schools, hospitals, fire and police stations around the country.
As the lead UN agency on mine action, UNDP is supporting the State Emergency Services of Ukraine to spearhead emergency clearance efforts, providing both training and protective equipment to deminers. To date, 350,000 items of mine and unexploded ordinance have been cleared, ensuring safety for almost 3.5 million people. However, it is estimated that Ukraine will not be freed of explosive remnants of war for decades.
The estimated cost of reconstruction and recovery for Ukraine is $411 billion. In tandem with its mine action support, UNDP is focused on scaling up debris removal so that emergency workers can access communities. The organization is also analyzing the damage using machine learning algorithms, data scans, remote sensing and drone image analysis.
“It is thanks to the contribution of our valued donors that UNDP is able to respond quicky and effectively to the greatest needs of the Ukrainian people. However, much more needs to be done. Greater support is urgently needed to scale up our combined efforts to respond to the country’s vast recovery and reconstruction needs. Together, we must stand with the Government of Ukraine to build the foundations of a brighter future for Ukrainian people,” said ASG Okai.
About UNDP in Ukraine: UNDP has been working in Ukraine for three decades and despite continuing attacks has remained on the ground throughout the conflict, supported by 400 team members – the majority of whom are nationals of Ukraine. We remain committed to supporting the people in Ukraine for years to come.