Surviving harsh Ukrainian winter

Surviving harsh Ukrainian winter

Winter is not mild in Ukraine. In some parts of the country, the temperatures can drop below -20 degrees Celsius. Millions of Ukrainians live in damaged homes or buildings without sufficient protection from harsh winter conditions. Especially people living in the cities have a hard time keeping warm with many power outages happening daily. 

“I dare sad stories, harsh images from places where the war has raged. But there is hope in the form of smiling people and the desire for restoration and a return to at least a little normal life,” says Josef Koláček, ADRA Czech Republic’s humanitarian aid coordinator, that took part at the ADRA Czech Republic’s monitoring visit to Ukraine.

The most significant problem people in Ukraine face are the damaged infrastructure and the related limited supply of energy. People in rural areas, who are less dependent on electricity, cope better with power outages. During the summer, they started preparing for the upcoming winter months. They collected wood and, stocked on food, bought generators. 

“Disruption of services in the city has a much greater impact because everything is more interconnected here. For example, damage to an electrical transformer can immediately stop the water supply to an entire neighbourhood. Ukraine has a centralised system dating back to the Soviet era. That means that entire neighbourhoods in the main centres rely on a single power plant for heat, hot water and, in many cases, electricity,” explains Andrej Arvensis, ADRA’s humanitarian worker who was also a part of the team visiting cities such as Bucha, Irpin, and Borodanka.

Neighbourhoods with apartment buildings high as 25 floors, like in the capital, are hard to live in, with a limited supply of heat, water and electricity. ADRA is working hard to provide warming places in the Donetsk region where people can shelter from freezing temperatures.

As we reported, power generators are currently the most needed equipment in Ukraine. With the enormous demand, they are also becoming unavailable on the market. The needed items are also various heaters, winter clothes, power banks, candles, and sleeping bags.

ADRA Czech Republic, ADRA Ukraine and ADRA International will help local people cope with the coming winter as best as possible. They are working on a significant wintering project to support families. Wintering refers to works that improve or provide insulation and heating in a shelter. Insulation interventions can include insulating walls and ceilings to repairing or replacing windows with double-glazed ones with a higher insulating value. They are also replacing damaged radiators, boilers and heaters. 

Not only buildings but also solidarity is rebuilding. “When we went to Ukraine at the beginning of the war, there was chaos and a feeling of uncertainty and fear. Now, it’s more about determination, bravery and trying to help each other. People have not given up and are trying to live their daily lives. What impressed me was the mutual solidarity, which is huge,” Arvensis concludes.